July 27, 2009
Do You Have Trouble Finding Things In Stock at Your Local Stores? Introducing Milo, the Merchandise Search Engine
As we are already more than ten years into the Information Age and the internet, search engines keep coming up like mushrooms after a rain storm. Some are general and others are more specific. Perhaps you need a particular item and you are constantly frustrated because when you need to buy an item it is out of stock at your local big box store. Well, there is a search engine for you too. Introducing Milo — the search engine for shoppers and people who like to know ahead of time before something is in stock at their local stores. Milo is the newest of the search engines out there and is still in beta testing.
Milo works by having a large choice of your large chain store names and it will browse the inventory of all the sponsored stores inventory to find what store near you has that item you are looking for in stock. The search engine itself is very simple to operate. When you first log on the site, you will find your home city and a search bar. Furthermore, you will see below all the store names that Milo will search for your item, and you can even specify a particular store name if you wish to do so. What’s even better, the service is free and you do not need to register or sign in.
To date, Milo has 13 store names available for searching a product. Furthermore, next to each store logo you will see a caption showing the location of the nearest store in or near your city. The stores, who’s inventories Milo can browse, include Lowe’s, JC Penny, Home Depot, American Eagle, Barnes & Nobles, Best Buy, BevMo, Ikea, Borders, Guitar Center, Staples, Office Depot, Nordstrom, Sears, Macy’s, Micro Center, Radio Shack, Target, Wal-Mart, and EBGames. Note, however, Milo is still undergoing public beta testing, so in the future the list is likely to grow.
Using the search engine is also quite simple. Suppose you are doing some landscaping and you want some landscape lighting to accent certain parts of your landscaping, such as specimen trees or bushes, water features, etc. In the search bar simply type “landscape lighting” and a whole list of stores and varieties of different landscape lighting will come up. Landscape lighting may be a too broad term, so you may want to narrow the choice of what type of light you are looking for. After you made the query, you will notice below the search bar a whole variety of choices. For example, you may want to see what is in stock in all the stores. As default, Milo will have the check box by all stores check marked. Next to the all box, you will see a box next to other stores that carry some of the top brands of lighting fixtures. For landscape lighting, you have the option to search the inventories of either only Lowe’s, Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, or you can click on the hyperlink that asks you if you want Milo to show more and all the stores that have linked to Milo will show up.
If you are knowledgeable about the different store names, you should be able to know which stores sell what. For example, Best Buy is a store chain that mainly specializes in consumer electronics and appliances. Obviously there is no sense in looking into that store’s inventory. Lowe’s and Home Depot, however, are stores that specialize in home and garden products, so these stores are the more sensible to look up.
For other products you can also search for a specific brand, but that does not apply to home & garden merchandise. You can also choose the price range that you are looking for.
Now, let’s go back to the search. You will notice that “landscape lighting” is too broad of a search for you and you want the low voltage landscape lighting. With just landscape lighting, you will find that you will find other light fixtures as well. What will happen if we narrow the search down to “low voltage landscape lighting,” or “solar landscape lighting?” If you narrow the search down to just “low voltage landscape lighting,” you will find that all the low voltage or 12 volt lighting fixtures or whole sets that are available in your location and the stores that have these items in stock. For example, in Michigan City, IN, there are two stores that have low voltage lights in stock. These stores are Wal-Mart and Lowe’s, and besides Michigan City, you can also find items in other stores near Michigan City. The items that are in stock in the Wal-Mart or the Lowe’s in Michigan City will appear at the top of the list, but if you scroll down, you will see items in stock in stores that are in towns near Michigan City, such as La Porte, Valparaiso, Chesterton, or even as far as South Bend or Chicago.
Other helpful features on Milo are maps that are provided by Google Maps which show your location and you can also find the stores that are listed in your search where the product you want is in stock.
Milo is the brainchild of the child prodigy, Jack Abraham, who named the search engine after his beloved dog, Milo. Jack Abraham started his career in computers and technology at age 13, when he started working with data extraction encoding and processing mechanisms for ComScore. Mr. Abraham also worked on behavioral targeting strategies for Microsoft and Drugstore.com. Another one of Mr. Abraham’s achievements is the development of the automated arbitrage system for eBay. Mr. Abraham is currently studying at the Wharton School of Business, where he will be graduating magna cum laude with a customized degree in Technological Entrepreneurship, which is a merger between business and computer sciences. When Mr. Abraham graduates, he will receive the title of Joseph Wharton Scholar. Mr. Abraham still works at Milo as the company’s CEO.
Another cofounder of Milo is John Evans, who is a seasoned entrepreneur and has founded several other companies before founding Milo. Mr. Evans also worked at J. P. Evans, Inc., which is a small software company with a seven-person staff, where he ran all operations. J. P. Evans was also founded by Mr. Evans and builds custom solutions for various technical problems and has some Fortune 500 companies among its clientele.
The third cofounder of Milo is Ted Dziuba, who is casually known as the company’s minister of defense and works on the company’s Python code. Mr. Dziuba joined the founders of Milo after hearing about them from Pressflip, which is a machine learning company in which Mr. Dziuba was also a cofounder. Mr. Dziuba is also one of the cofounders of Google.
Milo’s investors include ICBT Capital Partners and Youniversity Ventures, along with several individual investors, who are Keith Rabois, Len Lodish, Jawed Karim, Kevin Hartz, and Dr. Magin Abraham.
ICBT Capital Partners is actually a privately owned hedge fund that invests in both public markets and high growth private equity funds. ICBT is based in San Francisco, California.
Youniversity Ventures is a vc firm that seeks business students or young entrepreneurs who have an innovative product and are in the internet and consumer industries. Besides providing entrepreneurs with the necessary capital, the people at Youniversity also provides mentorship, expertise, and the contacts that are vital to get the business up off the ground and in flight. Youniversity Ventures is located in the Twin Cities in Minnesota and invests in the geographic location of the Twin Cities and the Bay Area in California. Some of the entrepreneurs that Youniversity Ventures has backed include the founders of Paypal, Youtube, Linkedin, and others.
For more information about Milo, click here.