“SentioSearch.com” is a social network that connects decision-makers with mentors who will give them the best chance to make good decisions and minimize regret.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Brazell’ regarding his start-up “SentioSearch.com”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “SentioSearch.com” is all about?
SentioSearch is a social network that connects decision-makers with mentors who will give them the best chance to make good decisions and minimize regret.
Mentors are selected using a number of matching algorithms based on the latest research in psychology.
Mentors are rewarded by tracking the influence of their advice on decision-makers and decision-makers are rewarded with better decisions and more happiness.
2. When has “SentioSearch.com” been founded? And what stage is “SentioSearch.com” currently at?
SentioSearch was founded in 2008. The last several years have been spent primarily doing research in the psychology and decision-theory fields.
We have also sent out a number of surveys related to people’s various decisions and their corresponding happiness.
The start-up is currently in private beta and will be released in public beta by the end of August.
3. What is “SentioSearch.com”’s business model and how does it work?
The model is to build a solution which helps users connect to the right mentors and make better decisions.
If users feel the site is both beneficial and entertaining they will continue to use it and we will ultimately release a non-invasive advertising model.
I want to stress that this will not be possible unless we cater to users first.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
The team consists of four people:
Me, Jonathan Stuart, Keith Aumiller, and Jake Embree.
I met Jonathan while in school.
I contacted him about doing some research for sentiosearch and we have been working together since 2009.
I met Keith and Jake through Craigslist job postings.
I liked Keith’s background in psychology and technology and we began working together in 2011.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
There is lot’s of information and advice available online.
We empower our users by making sure they get access to the best mentor advice for them and their specific decision.
We cut through the clutter and help users make better decisions more easily.
We also try to make the experience of getting advice both fun and rewarding.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “SentioSearch.com” achieved so far?
We started allowing people to pre-register for our public beta approximately 3 weeks ago.
We will not publish growth stats until we are up and running in public beta.
However, we have seen significant interest through pre-registrations.
I think the interest is primarily coming after people view some of our promotional videos.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “SentioSearch.com”’s competitive advantage over them?
Other services such as Quora or yahoo answers, try to provide people with the best advice by having the community vote up answers which they feel are the best.
SentioSearch aggregates and displays mentor advice that is customized and optimized for each individual user.
We believe what works for most people is not good enough.
We believe users should get exactly what works for them.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle we faced was that I had no programming background prior to launching the company.
Since launch, I have had to teach myself several programming languages in order to become a more effective manager.
Now the development cycle is much quicker because I can propose and check solutions which are more inline with our current technological framework.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Most people do not understand the science of happiness.
It is often counter-intuitive and confusing.
Because of this, some people view happiness as simply an outcome of good luck rather than an outcome within our control.
People spend, on average, almost 1 hour per week doing nothing but dwelling on their regrets.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We are solving a big problem. Despite all the advances in technology, people today are not any happier than they were in 1974.
We finally have the technology and the science to help people make better decisions and, ultimately, achieve greater happiness.
As long as we always build things with the user experience in mind, I think we will succeed.
11. If “SentioSearch.com” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
Possibly opening up additional channels of communication between mentors and decision-makers besides what we currently have available on our site.
Our current system does not allow for direct communication between the two. Sentiosearch acts as an intermediary.
We aggregate the relevant mentor advice and present it to the user in a digestible way. We might try to expand on this dynamic a bit.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “SentioSearch.com” based on?
The finding that despite advances in technology, people today are not any happier than they were in 1974. I thought, “How can this be?”
I love technology, I love the internet, they should be making our lives better.” So, I decided to figure out a way to try and make that happen.
If google can make self-driving cars, then sentiosearch should be able to make a system that empowers people to make better decisions.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
Communicating your idea is more difficult than you think it will be.
We have spent a lot of time trying to work on our various pitches and we still find communication difficult.
I would recommend taking the time to answer the questions: what problem are you solving, how are you solving it, and why that way better than existing methods.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
The challenge 6 months from now will be the same as the challenge today.
How do we continue to build a system that helps people make better decisions?
Hopefully, we have more users to consider and so the scope of the problem will change but we always want to focus on building the best experience for our users.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Our system leverages a scientifically heralded but widely underutilized decision-making technique called surrogation which has been shown to reduce affective forecasting error (read: regret) by up to 63!
Imagine if you could reduce your regret by more than half! That is what we are offering our users.
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
It is mainly through word of mouth.
We were featured on betalist and betabait in order to find some additional beta testers but our growth will be mainly social and organic.
We have a facebook page and a twitter page which will become more active after we launch.
We also participate in strategic communities such as quora and others.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
We are not currently available in Public Beta but our target customers are anyone who feels overwhelmed by the decisions they are facing.
This could be someone who is doing online research and is overwhelmed by the millions of results they get after a google search or someone who feels they deserve custom advice that can’t come from any existing online tool.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
New users will hopefully come from word of mouth recommendations.
We always put user experience first so our hope will be that if we take care of our first users they will want to recommend us to others.
We have an internal goal to respond to every single user email as quickly as possible.
The goal of SentioSearch is to help users achieve more happiness so if we arent actively addressing our user’s questions/comments/concerns we are failing.
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
We will really start analyzing user feedback when we release in public beta at the end of this month.
In response to some of our initial communications, prospective users have expressed interest in trying the site.
We have heard a lot of people express frustration with current online decision aids such as traditional search engines (google, bing, etc) and traditional Q&A sites (yahoo answers, quora, etc).
20. How are you going to scale?
Our model is one that scales directly and even improves as new users come on board. When a new user comes on board the pool of mentors and decision-makers grows.
This only improves user results and user experience.
We will not need to make any adjustments to user experience we will only need to make changes on the infrastructure side (more servers and the like).
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The biggest missing feature is the site itself.
Many people have heard our value proposition and are incredibly anxious to use the site.
They will not have to wait long since the site will go live at the end of August.
We will send invites to a selected group of early adopters and then open the site up to the public shortly thereafter.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We already have a great group in Bangalore who we work with on selected projects.
We would probably develop a closer relationship with them if we continued to expand internationally.
We see lots of opportunity in India and have been really pleased with the experiences we have had interacting with people there.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
I think we could be as big as the number of internet users.
Everyone faces hard decisions, everyone needs help with these decisions, SentioSearch can help.
We would hope to achieve massive scale by focusing on the user experience.
As long as we are trying to solve big decision-related problems for the user I think we will be fine.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We are mainly looking for UX designers but we always have openings for amazing people passionate about solving big problems.
Anyone interested can contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to send your resume, samples of your work, ideas you have been thinking about, or good jokes you have heard.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
Currently we are being bootstrapped and not looking for funding.
This could change if the user base grows but currently we are looking to prove out the concept before taking any outside money.
We are always willing to talk to potential partners. Preferably existing communities looking to provide their users with some decision-making tools.
Potential partners or investors could reach us at email@example.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Don’t give up until you have launched the product you envisioned.
There will be so many challenges and frustrations but if you stick it out, you will not regret it.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Thank you for reading.