At at time when verticalization of just about everything seems to be the au courant startup strategy, FindTheBest is going against the grain by going after multiple verticals to be the comparison-shopping engine for every product and service, from car seats, to dry dog food to incubators and accelerators.
Think of it as the Kayak for the 1,000 other decisions in your life, or the next-generation Consumer Reports, only a lot more comprehensive and data-driven.
Apparently, it's a strategy that's working.
FindTheBest, which powers comparison-search for several hundred publishers, announced Tuesday that it's raised $11 million in financing, led by New World Ventures, Montgomery & Co's venture arm, with participation from existing investors Kleiner Perkins, as well as Kevin O'Connor, founder and CEO of FindTheBest.
The new funding brings the company's total round to $17 million, since the company was founded in August 2010.
"We want to enter a lot of new markets," said O'Connor, in an an interview. The company soft launched in four countries, including Spain and Korea, and hopes to be in 10 by the end of this year. Additionally, FindTheBest wants to expand the number of products it offers comparisons for. At the moment, the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based startup offers price comparison search in nine verticals, such as health, education, electronics, software and business/finance. Within those verticials, it can make 600 comparisons.
Those comparisons are either accessed via the company's owned and operated sites, such as FindTheBest, Findthecompany, Findthecoupon, and Findthelisting, or some 100 publishing partners, such as VentureBeat, TechCrunch and Golf Digest. Across its own sites and publisher partners, the company's pages are being visited by 22 million visitors, with about 70% of the traffic coming from their own sites.
Right now, FindTheBest generates most of its revenue from advertising. There's also some money generated from lead-generation or sponsored listings. So if a nursing home wants to be listed at the top of a search, it will pay up for that top spot. Companies like Yelp, Zillow and Shopping.com make about 10 to 40 cents in revenue per visitor, said O'Connor. That's what the company is shooting for in terms of monetization in a few years, he said, without sharing what the company is doing today.
So where does the company get data? FindTheBest doesn't scrape the content from the Web. Rather, it works with third party-databases that it licenses. The company will also go straight to manufacturers and get specs into their system. In other cases, they'll work with a company's proprietary database and help them organize it to build product lists. FindTheBest also has its own rating system, called SmartRating, which its proprietary rating system that incorporates external expert ratings along with its own quantitative ratings (for example, acceptance rate for colleges or talk time for smartphone). The ratings are similar to Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic.