Vator Box

5

Is Filtrbox the way to filter out Web noise?

Chris Shipley helps us evaluate the media-monitoring service

Innovation series by Bambi Francisco Roizen
March 30, 2009 | Comments (2)
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/793


This week, we look at Filrtbox, a startup that lets you monitor media sources and filter out what's most important to you. In this segment, Chris Shipley, who's mentored thousands of startups as co-founder of Guidewire and DEMO executive producer for 13 years, is our guest host. Shipley joined Ezra Roizen (digital media investment banker and Vator Box regular) and me to analyze this monitoring tool. 

Here are our observations and advice:

- Ari Newman, Filtrbox founder and president, does a nice job defining who his customers are and the business model. One suggestion for Newman is to set up the pitch by describing the problem he's trying to solve. Often the best pitches start off with a problem statement.

- There's some controversy about a freemium business model, particularly during today's economic environment where some investors are embracing companies that can charge right off the bat. But Shipley, Roizen and I believe the freemium model is one to pursue, as long as the free service is fully complete and useful, and not an anemic version of a real product. Filtbox's basic service allows you to search for up to five topics or filters. Beyond that, a person has to pay $10 a month to use the service. While charging for value is a good model, Filtrbox might want to expand the filters to engage the user more and get them hooked on using the service.  As Roizen said: “I haven’t gotten enough out of the relationship to want to do that [pay] after having a limited experience because of the five filters.” The $10 tollbooth is a fine model. The question is whether the tollbooth comes up too soon.

- Filtrbox appears to be focusing on too many constituents. It’s targeting marketing/brand managers, sales professionals, and investors. For marketing professionals, there appear to be a number of services out there already. Radian6 helps PR and ad agencies capture the buzz around their brands. BuzzLogic captures the same buzz and tries to insert itself into that buzz to lift its clients presence or image within the chatter.  Clearly, there is a need for such services. To compete effectively with startups focused on one constituent, Filtrbox may want to focus on just brand/marketing managers, rather than sales professionals or just purely sales professionals, but not both. Both require different needs. Going after both will result in not being able to satisfy either very well. Helping sales professionals generate leads requires a different set of tools than what marketing professionals need to build their customer's brand and image.

- Filtrbox might want to consider some useful features, such as tools to prioritize information or tools to provide “related” topics for each filter. For instance, if you suggested that you’re interested in “Vator” as a search, you might want to see related information about  “Entrepreneur.” In other words, having relative taxonomies could improve the service through recommendations. 

- Filtrox should consider going deep into a vertical to make a really useful product that charges $100 per month. Filtrbox should figure out a price point for a high-quality product. And, the pitch should be: If you have this tool, you won’t be fired.  


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Twelvefold Media
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Description: Twelvefold Media (formerly BuzzLogic) is the only emotive-based media company that helps brands target, reach and persuade engaged audien...
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Filtrbox
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Description: Discover what your customers are saying about you on Twitter, social networks, blogs and news sites. Filtrbox monitors conversations on m...
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chris Shipley
Co-Founder & Chairm...,
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Ezra Roizen
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Comments

Mark Evans
Mark Evans, on March 30, 2009

Very useful review of Ari's business. As Chris said, state the problem you solve up front and ultimately, bite off one vertical at a time.


Ari Newman
Ari Newman, on March 30, 2009

This is great feedback and these are topics we discuss every day. One of the challenges we have is that Filtrbox offers a new way to discover and consume timely information, which delivers value to a number of markets. FWIW, our goal is not to build another buzz monitoring tool (there are plenty), rather to empower a broad audience with a new approach. We realize that with this, comes the risk of being too broad and shallow (as suggested in the review). We agree, and have been experimenting in different markets to see where we can deliver the most value. I agree with the comments on needing to focus on one market and be GREAT at it, this is something we are now moving towards, and you'll see these changes in the service and our messaging in the coming months. We've got some exciting things on our product roadmap, so stay tuned. We'll keep updating our page on Vator!

Best,
Ari


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