StartupHouston interviews Neal Verma with iRazoo


iRazoo.com seeks to beat Google in the Relevancy Race 

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 Chron.com 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:  http://www.iRazoo.com

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

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