CompareFounders3What does your company do?

Compare Metrics helps consumer brands engage their online customers better.  We combine explicitly defined shopper preferences with online learning algorithms to personalize the navigation bar of the Ecommerce display on the fly.

How did you start the company?

I was researching semantic web technology at Stanford and wanted to implement a better search engine.  One cannot compete against Google so I had to take a different approach.  One way to get the project off the ground is to have other people pay to solve the problem so we came up with a business model of selling sponsored attributes.  What we found is that customers will pay to find the order in which their customers use search terms to find a product.  We then incorporated that process into a faceted search navigation tool for ecommerce sites.

I fell in love with the vision of improving digital discovery while conducting research into semantic search systems at Stanford. While there, I realized that the best way to improve search was not solely through a better algorithm but rather better data and user experience. During my time at Bazaarvoice where I was a product manager for big data and analytics initiatives, I saw just how valuable data can be in transforming the lives of not just consumers but also the teams that develop and maintain the ecommerce sites that they use. As I got to know the methods and operations of these kinds of ecommerce teams, I noticed just how much pain there was around managing a large site’s navigation – and in fact, I noticed more importantly that while many of the teams were limited by technology, they were in fact much more inhibited by their access to well-formed, structured data that matched how their customers thought. Once I had saved up enough money to not starve for 10 months, I left BV to set out in creating the worlds most powerful product decision engine – backed by relevant, adaptable data.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up?

Building an advisory board that knows the enterprise space and how to sell into it.  We found some of the best in this space – Brett Hurt, Sam Decker, and Russ Somers – and invited them to join our board.

Also, finding technical developers in the semantic search space is a key issue.  We need a high level of scalability to make our program work.

Aside from that, learning how to strike a balance between specific client needs versus industry pain points is one of the most difficult tasks for any enterprise software company – particularly one where the existing infrastructure is just so fundamentally broken. We’ve found that nearly every discussion with clients about the pain of managing and optimizing site navigation leads to 10 new ideas for product capabilities and roadmap initiatives. Keeping that list focused and aligned with the highest priority initiatives is critical to success.

What is your company’s mission?

We’re building a marketing technology company to help people make better decisions.

What need does it fulfill?

We help customers find what they are looking for even when they don’t know exactly what they are seeking.  We improve the Ecommerce user experience through improved search and navigation by letting customers use their own words and descriptions that matter most in making their decision. Through this experience we can build better taxonomies and help our customers put the right attributes into their Ecommerce system.

What are your core three values?

Humility, passion,  innovation, hustle, and laughter.  We have a photo of a sloth in an astronaut suit which we call the slothstranaut.  If you can see the humor in that then you’re a potential candidate to work with us.

Hustle is also so core to how we view our day to day lives. We try to encourage our employees to stretch themselves daily and do the best work of their careers.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs today?

Seek mentorship and work hard to find people who can advise you.

What resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

The best resource in book form I found is Peter Drucker’s “The Practice of Management“  Drucker emphasizes the importance of a paying customer.  So many companies today are building businesses without a customer in the process.  It’s important that someone pay for what you are offering.

Company at-a-glance

Year established 2012

Number of employees 30 fulltime, 16 part-time

Industry E-commerce