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Forget the Front Office: Pay Rent at the Grocery Store – Houston Style Magazine


Nova Asset Management and RealPage work together to change the game

Houston, TX (November 18, 2015) — Research shows that the most effective way to beat temptation is not having to face it in the first place.

By the end of 2013, Neal Verma realized that his company, Nova Asset Management, was going to lose about $40,000 during that year to employee theft. The situation was discouraging. When tenants would come in to the rental office to pay their monthly rent, some brought cash or blank money orders.

“We have good people at our sites, but the temptation of cash or blank money orders was simply too great for some employees — they filled out the blank money order and deposited the money into a personal account,” Verma said.

As President and co-founder of Nova Asset Management, which owns and manages more than 6,000 apartment units (including Cedar Branch Apartments and Green Oak Village Apartments) throughout the Houston metropolitan area, Verma knew there had to be a better way. When he started researching options, he and his team considered developing a vending machine that would accept rent checks, but the development process would be long, expensive and involve time and energy-consuming trial and error.

After Verma explained this dilemma to an associate at RealPage – the property management software leader – the company approached him with the opportunity to beta test a new system. Starting in early 2014 and using RealPages’ eMoney Order system, Nova Asset Management uses a third party system to save money — and alleviate temptation. Renters now pay their rent at any of the 24,000 retail stores in the RealPage system.

“I think that it’s a good system for people that do not have Internet service at home. It seems to be faster since all you do is give the coupon, and they process your payment quickly,” says renter Xochlit Rendon.

Under the new system, payments are not received at the front office; instead residents pay rent and fees at their choice of convenient third-party outlets like grocery stores with which RealPage had partnered.

“Many of our residents were already accustomed to paying things like their utility bills at these stores, so it was a natural transition,” Verma said. “The day we flipped the switch, everything changed. Before, we were losing anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 to theft every year. We completely shut off the ability to pay rent and fees at the front office, so the risk of theft or robbery went to zero overnight.”

The eMoney Order system enabled residents to pay only the amount owed to store clerks. With a clear audit trail of every payment, there was no longer any room to manipulate payments. Unauthorized credits given at the sites also came to a sudden halt. An authorized person at the home office approves any requests for credits or concessions. But the bigger savings were measured in hours.

To set up the system, Verma said the cost and time commitment was minimal.

“The results from using a third-party offsite payment system have been remarkable in every way,” Verma said. “The cost to transition an apartment complex into the new eMoney Order system only took about $300 per complex. Time-wise, we were able to make the switch in less than two months per complex.”

“eMoney Order is a fantastic service for both residents and our property management clients,” said Matt Davis, senior vice president of payments at RealPage. “Residents no longer have to purchase money orders and bring them back to the front office when they can just make a simple cash payment at a nearby convenient retail location. And the properties reduce the risks and hassles of handling cash or money orders onsite. It’s truly a win-win solution during rent cycle.”

Since Nova Asset Management began using eMoney, the company hasn’t lost any rent money to employee theft. Plus, previously the company employed 17 bookkeepers. Each bookkeeper was spending about 80 percent of his or her time processing payment. Now, they are spending only 20 percent of their time on bookkeeping, which allows them to do many more things. The bookkeeping savings added nearly $200,000 annually to Nova Asset Management’s bottom line.

“Through attrition, we have also reduced our headcount as we now have some smaller properties without a bookkeeper and other properties that share bookkeepers,” Verma said. “All in all, we’ve saved a lot of money because of this system. It’s a win-win for us and our tenants.”

Founded in 1991, Nova Asset Management manages apartment properties and office buildings in the Houston area with over 6,000 apartment units and numerous office buildings currently under management.

RealPage, Inc. is a leading provider of comprehensive property management software solutions for the multifamily, commercial, single-family, and vacation rental housing industries. These solutions help property owners increase efficiency, decrease expenses, enhance the resident experience, and generate more revenue. Using its innovative SaaS platform, RealPage’s on-demand software enables easy system integration and streamlines online property management. Its product line covers the full spectrum of property management, leasing and marketing, asset optimization, and resident services solutions. Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Carrollton, Texas, RealPage currently serves over 11,000 customers worldwide from offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. For more information about the company, visit http://www.realpage.com.

Vacancy Rates Linked to Oil Industry Downturn – Houston Energy Insider


It is hard to miss all of the new apartment complexes that have been popping up all over Houston recently. Given the oil industry’s continuing downturn, it is fair to question who is actually moving into these new residences. Certainly there are multiple industries that make up the economic system that is Houston, but oil has been and still is the foundation that fosters major growth in the city. Hence, when the oil industry is suffering, many other industries find they are considerably affected as well.

The increase in vacancies for Houston apartment complexes has been worrying some businesses involved in the apartment rental business. Neal Verma, owner of Nova Asset Management Inc., has recognized a growing problem accompanying the drop in oil prices: the layoffs and lack of new jobs are causing people to drop their rental agreements because of a fear that they will fail to pay rent. Verma’s company owns many properties that have been affected by the downturn. Verma usually finds his vacancy rates to be around 5%, but in recent times, that figure has climbed to 8 or even 10%.

On the other hand, Verma states that in times like these one can usually find bargain buys for apartment complexes. Consequently, during oil booms the prices of apartments can skyrocket to ridiculous amounts. Verma is confident his firm will make it out of the crisis in good standing, but knows that there are rough times ahead for the foreseeable future. For now, he is increasing the fee paid for referrals, and investing more heavily in marketing in local areas. He hopes that this will be sufficient to ride out this downturn.

Houston apartment owner sees occupancy slide with price of oil – Houston Chronicle


Occupancy rates at Nova Asset Management’s well-leased portfolio of 16 apartment complexes in Houston are starting to slip amid sustained low oil prices.

The Houston-based owner and manager of 6,000 local apartment units is just starting to see the effect of the slowdown in Houston’s economy from energy layoffs, said Neal Verma, president and co-founder of Nova Asset Management.

About one-quarter of the portfolio is Class B, with rents for one-bedroom units averaging $850 a month. The complexes are typically between eight and 20 years old.

“In the B class properties, a lot of tenants do have some kind of connection to the oil and gas industries,” Verma said. “We used to have 100 percent leased. Now we’re seeing 95 percent leased.”

At a 300-unit Class B property, 15 people normally move out each month. In the last three months, that’s crept up to between 20 and 30 vacancies, Verma said.

Three-quarters of Nova Asset Management’s portfolio is comprised of older Class C properties with rents averaging $600 a month.

The Class C properties, which frequently house construction workers, may lose some tenants as the pace of new office building construction begins to taper off in areas such as the Energy Corridor and the Galleria. The Class C occupancy rate has dipped below 98 percent, but has been close to 100 percent recently, Verma said.

“A lot of those jobs are finishing, but no new construction is happening in Houston,” Verma said.

Nova Asset Management recently collaborated with property management software firm RealPage on a new way to collect rent payments. Tenants pay using eMoneyOrders at area retail stores.

Multifamily company launches new payment method to curb thefts – Houston Business Journal


Neal Verma once had a problem on his hands.

On the first day of each month, Verma’s apartment residents brought hundreds of dollars of cash to Verma’s front offices to pay their rent. Some even brought in blank checks and money orders because they didn’t know how to write English and relied on employees to fill them out, Verma said.

With upwards of $100,000 in cash, blank checks and money orders coming in, thefts and robberies became an issue. Some employees succumbed to the temptation of blank checks, depositing them into their own bank accounts. Hold-ups and break-ins were common.

“It’s a rampant problem in the industry,” Verma said.

The president of Nova Asset Management rents apartments to predominantly Hispanic residents, many of whom deal primarily with cash and don’t use a bank. Houston is the second-most “underbanked” city nationally with 40.6 percent of the population who don’t have a bank account, according to the government.

As a result, Verma used to accept cash and money orders at each of his 16 apartment complexes — Class B and C properties located primarily on the west side of Houston. Founded in 1992, Nova Asset Management is a Houston-based multifamily company that owns and operates about 6,000 apartment units across the Bayou City.

Verma estimated he was losing about $40,000 each year. So he explained his dilemma to RealPage Inc., a Carrollton, Texas-based multifamily company that provides property management software and services to apartment owners and managers.

Realpage (Nasdaq: RP) had been thinking about this problem, too, and came up with a new payment method — called eMoney Order — that allowed users to pay their rent at any of the 24,000 supermarkets, drugstores and convenience stores in RealPage’s eMoney Order system across the country.

Instead of bringing cash or money orders to the front office, residents would pay their rent when they went grocery shopping. It’s similar to the way Reliant Energy allows residents to pay their electricity bills at their local supermarket.

Verma agreed to test RealPage’s solution, and began rolling out the eMoney Order system in each of his properties in 2012. After three years, all of Verma’s properties use the system.

It took several months to teach residents about the new payment method, but they adapted quickly, Verma said. Now, none of Nova Asset Management properties accept cash or money order, and as a result, thefts and crime fell dramatically, Verma said.

“Our theft and crime has gone down to zero,” Verma said. “It’s really worked out for us. It’s been totally transformative for our industry.”

Houston apartment vacancies climb as energy, construction layoffs mount – Houston Business Journal


Neal Verma started noticing them a few months ago — move-out notices that blamed layoffs as a reason. They trickled in, one by one, into his 16 apartment properties — Class B and C complexes located primarily on the west side of Houston.

“The oil slump is definitely affecting us,” the president of Nova Asset Management Inc. said. “ It’s a huge hit to the multifamily industry.”

Founded in 1992, Nova Asset Management is a Houston-based multifamily company that owns and operates about 6,000 apartment units across the Bayou City.

Most of Nova’s apartment communities average about 300 units. Typically, Verma said he sees about 15 move-outs a month — and about a 5 percent vacancy rate — due to regular attrition: tenant changing jobs or moving to a new city.

However, in recent months, Verma says he’s getting an extra 10 move-outs a month, pushing his vacancy rate closer to 8 percent.

As oil prices plummet to near seven-year lows, energy companies are laying off IT workers living in Nova’s Class B properties. And as new office and multifamily development cools, contractors are laying off construction workers living in Nova’s Class C properties, Verma said.

“We have a lot of tenants working for oil and gas and construction. A lot of them have been let go,” Verma said. “This greatly affects our bottom line because now you’re talking 25 vacancies at each property, which will add up to a couple hundred units. It’s extremely worrisome.”

Verma is starting to do more marketing to attract new residents to replace those who are leaving. He is putting up more fliers in restaurants and businesses and advertisements in newspapers and online portals. He also plans to double his incentive for resident referrals from $200 to $400 per resident.

There’s a silver lining to the oil slump however, Verma said. As vacancies mount in Class B and C properties, there may be opportunities for companies like Verma’s to purchase properties on the cheap, he said.

During the energy boom, apartment properties — even a Class C complex with a 30 percent vacancy rate — were being listed at $40,000 to $50,000 per unit, “a ridiculous” price, Verma said. He expects prices to come down to perhaps $20,000 per unit during the oil slump, he said.

“We’ve been in this industry for a long time, so we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs,” Verma said. “This doesn’t faze me. We’ll hunker down and do the best we can and see what we can do to fill out our properties. It’s going to be time to buy apartments again.”

Technology curbs theft of rent checks – Houston Chronicle


Houston apartment owner Nova Asset Management is using technology to solve a problem that was costing it $30,000 to $50,000 a year: theft of rent payments.

“We would have all types of theft with the night drop-off,” Nova president and co-founder Neal Verma said. “We even brought in mailboxes you couldn’t break from the outside. People would use fishing wire and a piece of gum and would literally go and fish a money order out. We tried everything under the sun to prevent it. It was like a never-ending nightmare.”

The company eliminated this source of loss by changing the way it collects rent at more than 6,000 apartments units. Tenants at its 16 local apartment complexes no longer drop off checks or money orders at the front offices. Instead, they can do so at thousands of retail stores where they might already be shopping.

Verma said he had considered creating vending machines to accept payments but knew it would take time and money to set them up. After explaining the problem to an associate at RealPage, a publicly traded property management software firm near Dallas. The firm said it had already been working on a solution.

RealPage asked Nova Asset Management to test its RealPage eMoneyOrder service, which, after some fine-tuning, is now widely used by property managers across the country, according to RealPage.

Since early 2014, tenants of Nova Asset Management’s complexes have had an option to make real-time cash payments for their rent at 24,000 retail stores such as H-E-B, Fiesta, Wal-Mart or Ace Cash Express that have partnered with RealPage. The rent rolls come up on the stores’ computers, and payments such as rent, water and late fees are applied and pushed out to RealPage, which credits the charges on Nova Asset Management’s rent roll ledger.

The cost to tenants is $2, or about the same as a money order in many cases. Residents still have the option of paying online by check or credit card. It cost Nova Asset Management a few hundred dollars per complex to set up, plus a small ongoing fee.

“I think that it’s a good system for people that do not have Internet service at home. It seems to be faster, since all you do is give the coupon, and they process your payment quickly,” renter Xochlit Rendon said in a statement through Nova Asset Management.

Matt Davis, senior vice president of payments at RealPage, said in an email that while most renters in the U.S. use checks or automated payments for their monthly leases, “there is still quite a significant resident segment that wants to pay in cash or money order.”

While the financial services industry refers to these consumers as “unbanked” or “underbanked,” Davis likes to call them “cash preferred.”

“For this sizable group of tenants, the process is costly and laborious,” Davis said. “First, they must go to a location that sells money orders and purchase one or more to cover the cost of their monthly lease expense. Money orders can be very expensive if you buy them at your credit union or bank, or cheaper if you buy them at the post office. Some retailers place limits on the amount you can buy, so a resident might need to purchase multiple money orders to pay their rent and utilities.

“After successfully purchasing the money orders, the resident must return them to their property office. This process can be costly, time-consuming and can result in lost money orders and unpaid rent.”

Nova Asset Management estimates the change has also saved the company nearly $200,000 in administrative costs. Bookkeepers who used to spend 80 percent of their time processing payments have been freed up to do other tasks and can manage more than one property.

Nova Asset Management, which was founded in 1991 and manages office buildings as well, has bought and sold 20,000 apartment units in Houston. Its 16 complexes average 300 units with an average of 750 square feet each.

From about 2000 until 2014, money orders were the most popular payment method at its Class C properties, which are typically complexes that are at least 30 years old and make up about 75 percent of its portfolio, Verma said. Before that, most tenants at those complexes paid their rent in cash.

Rents at Nova’s Class C properties average $600 a month for one-bedroom units, Verma said. The other 25 percent of the portfolio is Class B properties, which are frequently between 8 and 20 years old and in better locations than the C properties, he said.

iRazoo Selects BigString to Provide Trackable, Recallable, Self-Destructing, Non-Forwardable, Non-Printable, Non-Savable Email Features for its Users


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iRazoo (http://www.iRazoo.com) has selected BigString Corporation (OTCBB: BSGC) (http://www.BigString.com), the free email service that allows senders to track, recall, change and destroy their emails after they have been sent, to be the backend email service provider for the search engine portal.

Beginning TODAY, iRazoo’s users will be able to sign-up for a free iRazoo.com email account. Using BigString’s patent pending technology, iRazoo will provide its users email functionalities that no other search engine portal offers. Those functionalities will allow iRazoo email members to be able to send trackable, recallable, non-forwardable, non-printable, “Mission Impossible” style self-destructing emails, as well as up to a 10 minute video email.

“iRazoo and BigString share two commonalities that make this partnership a natural fit: we have the same direct competitors and a common goal to become leaders in our respective industries by providing unique and usable features that Google and Yahoo do not offer,” said Neal Verma, CEO of iRazoo. “By iRazoo partnering with BigString, we are able to provide a one of a kind, distinctive service as a value-add for our users.”

“BigString’s new, free email account features are now available to social networks, portals, search engines, online dating, social media, affiliate networks and many other web sites through BigString’s private label email hosting and co-branded email hosting solutions. Our unique email solution allows our partner iRazoo to offer its users a new email functionality that helps it further differentiate its service from its competitors,” said Robert DeMeulemeester, Executive Vice President and CFO, BigString Corporation. “The stickiness of BigString’s unique email features can help iRazoo increase their traffic, page views and advertising revenue, while they focus on what they do best.

BigString is setting the new standard in what users want from their email service, by not only offering unlimited storage space, but smart features and unique functionalities that can be utilized for both personal and business webmail use.

About iRazoo
iRazoo Inc., owner and operator of iRazoo.com, is a user recommended, points driven, search engine. iRazoo’s patent-pending technology refines search results from multiple search engines with user interaction for improved relevancy. In addition to highly relevant search results, users accumulate points which may be redeemed in iRazoo’s reward’s program.

About BigString
BigString Corporation, owner and operator of BigString.com, is a provider of user-controllable email services. In addition to permitting users to send trackable, recallable, erasable, self-destructing and video emails, BigString’s patent-pending technology allows emails and pictures to be rendered non-printable or non-savable. This can be done before or after the recipient reads it, no matter what Internet service provider is being used. BigString’s product offerings include free email accounts for individuals, professional business email solutions and email marketing services. BigString Interactive, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of BigString Corporation, operates an interactive entertainment portal that contains live streaming audio and video programming.

Forward Looking Statements
Statements about the future expectations of BigString Corporation, and all other statements in this press release other than historical facts, are “forward looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. BigString Corporation intends that such forward-looking statements shall be subject to the safe harbors created thereby. Since these statements involve certain risks and uncertainties and are subject to change at any time, BigString Corporation’s actual results could differ materially from expected results.

For iRazoo:
Neal Verma
neal(at)iRazoo-inc.com

For BigString:
Robert DeMeulemeester
732-741-2840
rdemeule(at)BigString.com

iRazoo Selects Dynamsoft SourceAnywhere for VSS to Eliminate Data Corruption for Remote Developers


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Dynamsoft Tool Boosts Uptime for Startup by Solving Productivity Challenges

VANCOUVER, BC–(Marketwire – October 31, 2007) – Dynamsoft Corporation today announced iRazoo, Inc., the user recommended, points driven, internet search engine, has implemented SourceAnywhere for VSS. iRazoo selected SourceAnywhere for VSS, a remote access add-on tool for Microsoft Visual SourceSafe, as part of their version control system in order to solve data corruption problems stemming from using Visual SourceSafe (VSS) over HTTP.

SourceSafe was designed for small teams in a LAN environment. Since it is optimized for internal users rather than for web access, many remote developers experience low performance, security and data corruption when trying to access Visual SourceSafe (VSS) database over the internet. Because the corruption issues are recurring, many remote teams are drained of valuable development time.

“SourceSafe 2005 worked fine on a local setting, but it doesn’t work very well over the internet,” commented Neal Verma, Founder and CEO, iRazoo. By implementing SourceAnywhere for VSS, iRazoo’s remote development team was able to focus on development instead of corruption issues. “With virtually no downtime, we have seen an overall improvement in productivity. We were able to get back on track because of Dynamsoft,” stated Verma. In fact, with corruption problems solved, iRazoo has saved approximately $6,000 a month in time and productivity is elevated.

SourceAnywhere for VSS, which is recommended by Microsoft as a remote access and cross platform solution to Visual SourceSafe (VSS), was created with four core objectives in mind. These include performance, to deliver the fastest remote access possible over TCP/IP; security, to apply a fail-safe approach to moving code assets across the Web; multi-platform support, to provide broad platform support and integrate with the industry’s most popular OS and IDEs; and SourceSafe GUI similarity, to ensure easy integration for developers. SourceAnywhere for VSS also dramatically reduces the chance of Visual SourceSafe (VSS) database corruption by first sending the files to the SourceAnywhere for VSS server and then operating the Visual SourceSafe (VSS) database through the LAN.

Pricing and Availability

For more information about the pricing and availability, please contact sales@dynamsoft.com or visit http://www.dynamsoft.com/Products/SAW_Overview.aspx.

About Dynamsoft Corporation

Every year, thousands of customers turn to Dynamsoft Corporation for world leading version control and issue tracking technologies. At the core of these technologies are well thought out and properly executed products that align to today’s development needs while offering dramatic improvements in development flexibility, speed, reliability and security. This, in turn, helps development teams build better quality products on time. Dynamsoft Corporation version control tools are used globally by thousands of developers including Apple, EMC, Fujitsu, GE, HP, 3M, HR Block, IBM, InfoSys, Intel, Olympus, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Samsung, Siemens, Symantec, Philips, Verizon, Unisys and others. For more information, please visit http://www.dynamsoft.com.

SourceAnywhere for VSS is a trademark of Dynamsoft in Canada and other countries. All other trade names and trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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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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