Month: July 2007

iRazoo: Human-Powered Search Engine With Prizes

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Okay incentivized search is not new, but it usually was a bugus engine asking people to click and share some minor income. The newly launched engine iRazoo seems to be a different model (not unique), though it has some initial detractors over at Digg.

The engine is human-powered. As the site explains:

“A person goes to the iRazoo website and uses it to perform a search query. The search engine produces it’s search results. The user then clicks on a search result. The resulting website that comes out of the click is opened up on another web page. That web page has the header of the original iRazoo search engine with the resulting website page beneath it. That header has the following wording “Do you recommend this site, yes or no.” If the user clicks yes, that website url is placed into a database and is cross-indexed to the search term the user entered. After the url and keyword have been recorded by the database, then the next time a user goes to the search engine and types in the same search term, a “user recommended” heading will show in the results page with the indexed url shown below. These “user recommended” results will be shown above the regular search results that are returned by our regular search engine.”

Whether this has legs only time will tell. Mahalo – another human powered engine – seems to be struggling. ChaCha has a live chat session where you can ask someone for help. This human touch seems to be a popular notion right now.

StartupHouston interviews Neal Verma with iRazoo

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I recently had the privilege of interviewing Neal Verma, one of the founders of iRazoo, a search engine that uses Web 2.0 and the power of its user community to provide more relevant search results to all users.  iRazoo is a Houston-based company that just launched their site about 2 months ago and Neal brought me up to speed with all of the great things going on there.

Startup Houston (SH): How did iRazoo get started?
Neal Verma (NV):  iRazoo got started based on ideas I’ve had about how to create a better search engine. The need to create our solution was because of the irrelevant and large quantity of results returned by current search engines. Most search engines today return millions of results that are irrelevant or manipulated by Search Engine Optimization marketing companies. When most users come to a search engine they have a specific question and are looking for a specific answer. What happens though is that each user has to go on a treasure hunt to find the one result, among thousands or millions, that really answers their keyword query. In this treasure hunt that user is seeking the answer that is like a piece of gold. iRazoo will provide search results that help users strike gold quicker.

SH: What do you think the odds are for iRazoo at this stage of the search engine game?
NV: The real question here is can a small band of guys uproot a big gorilla? The answer is yes. It’s already been done. Yahoo used to be king and now Google is. Relevancy won in the end of that race and we can be even more relevant using human intelligence and collaboration. Our goal is to have 99.9 relevancy within the first 3 search results. Google’s stated mission is to organize all of the info in the world. iRazoo’s mission is not only to do that, but to also increase its relevancy and timeliness. We are getting closer to this goal every day.

SH: What difference does having user intelligence and collaboration make to search results?
NV: The problem with having search results be algorithm-based is that there are limitations with having a software program determine relevancy. A computer may be able to figure out keyword frequency, but a computer can never figure out “usefulness.” For example, a web page with the word “dog” on it a hundred times might get high search results, but is not useful to anybody if it doesn’t actually contain information that is relevant to people who might visit that site.  Another advantage of the iRazoo system is that it is a very democratic system. People come together to push the cream to the top and a business that truly serves consumers performs well. The same is true of search engines.

SH: How is iRazoo different from other search engines?
NV: iRazoo is a people-powered, points driven search engine. It allows people to vote yes and no. People can actually put a result that is negative by voting that a certain search result is not relevant to what they were searching for. iRazoo also provides incentives for people to vote on search results. Users can earn credits towards prizes, based on their level of participation.  Finally, with iRazoo, you can hover over the thumbnails of the search results, and see a mini version of the website, vote on it, and then click out of the window, all without leaving the search results page. This feature is another example of how we are trying to helping people find the most relevant results in the least amount of time.

SH: Who do you picture as the perfect iRazoo user?
NV: Most of our demographic falls into the 16 – 34 age range, because most of the people in this range are used to user-generated content. This range of people are also more likely to use and share information for the good of the group and are also attracted to communities that incentivize them.

SH: What has been your biggest challenge operating a startup in Houston?
NV: There have been a few challenges. One is getting the word out. We’ve been trying to tell everyone we know about our service to try and get people on board. Another challenge has been trying to educate people to the concept, because a lot of people are used to the current search model. If the world was full of Hundai’s and you are trying to introduce a Mercedes, it may take time for people to appreciate all of the added value that you bring. Finally, another problem in Houston is that there are not a lot of well-known high-tech companies and not a lot of people that are knowledgeable of the high-tech or internet space since Houston is such an energy-focused city. One of the funny comments from the article (seen here and here), made the comment that we were bringing the Silicon Valley to Houston. People got excited. When we launched we got about a thousand comments

SH: What’s next for iRazoo?
NV: We plan on growing the company and working on a number of partnership deals. We also plan to expand our offerings and become a full fledged portal in the future with never-before-seen features that will improve the user search experience.

SH: Is there anything else you think people should know about iRazoo?
NV: Well, first, all of our features are patent-pending, including our hover feature for search results, and second, we think that there is an evolutionary process going on with search engines and we plan on coming out on top

Well, it’s exciting to see next generation technology companies that are doing great things in Houston and we wish iRazoo the best of success.  To visit their site and see what all of the buzz is about, go here:

Update:  Paul R. La Monica with CNN Money also did a post yesterday talking about iRazoo and other social search engines!  You can view the article here

iRazoo Latest to Launch Human-Powered Search Engine

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iRazoo is a new social search engine that is looking to promote human-powered recommendations the foundation of its service.

As a registered member, you can perform a search and recommend (yes or no) a site that you’ve checked out. iRazoo aggregates search data from the top engines and provides a thumbnail preview image of each result. Once you click on a search result, the webpage will be pulled up within an iRazoo iFrame. This is where you choose whether or not you recommend the site, and can leave a comment as well. Any recommended sites will appear above the regular search results when you perform a search, along with any comments a user has left. You can also browse through the recommended sites, though it doesn’t appear as though you can do a specifi search within recommended sites just yet.

iRazoo seems a very concerned with encouraging site activity, as you earn reward points for performing searches and commenting on sites. These points can be exchanged for merchandise such as an iTunes gift card or a digital camera. You can “shop” through prizes and add them to your wish list, reminding you that you’re working towards a goal in using iRazoo’s search engine. You can also add an iRazoo banner to your website, or install the search plugin into your browser toolbar. With your iRazoo account, you can keep track of your prizes as well as your recommended sites. While you can see sites that have been recommended, along with the number of users that have recommended it, you cannot see the username, or view others’ accounts.

Social Search Engine iRazoo Launches

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It’s good to know that there are still some entrepreneurs who are trying out their luck on the monopolized search engine industry. Take the case of iRazoo, a new social search engine that was developed by four entrepreneurs from Houston.

Frustrated of the search results they get from the current search engine giants, the four web entrepreneurs backed with technology backgrounds developed their own social search engine-iRazoo, which is launching today.

iRazoo and so it claims is the “world’s first people-powered, points driven, search engine”. What sets it apart from other social search engine is that it gives users the opportunity to register and earn points everytime they use the iRazoo search engine.

Yeah I know it sounds like Jason Calcanis’ Mahalo, also the world’s first human-powered search engine. But unlike Mahalo, iRazoo does not let its members filter the search results but rather let the members recommend or not recommend a search result.

Ok. From the words of the iRazoo founders, here are the benefits of using the search engine:

  • You get excellent search results (we aggregate all the data from the best search engines on the planet!)
  • You get to help further refine our excellent search results for others as well as benefit from other’s refined search results
  • You get points for each search you perform, each website you recommend/not recommend, and each referral you make
  • Best of all, you get to exchange your points for fantastic prizes!

If you have time, and feeling generous enough to help a start up company get some groove, try out iRazoo. You might get some reward for using it, although those rewards are not that great, still it’s still worth the time you spent searching and rating search results.