Alternative search engines? Why do we need them when we already have Google, Yahoo, Bing? Any list of significant search engines will invariably include these three heavyweights but also on the search engine map are Duck Duck Go (“the search engine that doesn’t track you”), Dogpile (preceded Google, faded into obscurity in the 1990’s, but due to its crosslinks i.e. it searches several big search engines and directories at the same time it is back in favour) and Yippy (for more hard to find and obscure content defeating traditional spider web functions).
One new entrant is nothing but bold in its vision. Enter the recently launched Pricesearcher. The site is currently in beta phase. Pricesearcher is the brainchild of its CEO and founder Samuel Dean (the man who brought us Beonscreen – the UK’s number 1 website for TV show participation). Sam is evangelical about Pricesearcher, a search engine, 4 years in the making, whose mission is to provide access to the world’s prices across any vertical, product, good or service. The company raised a cool £1 million in its first fundraising round and has recently closed its second.
In this exclusive interview with Sam, we talk discovery, genies and what it’s like to be tired but wired.
DRIVE® – what makes an entrepreneur tick?
Your business – tell us about your business in 25 words or less
Pricesearcher is a search engine just like Google, the only difference is, we only search prices.
Who was your first customer or client?
The first client we had was World Of Books.
If time and money were no object what would your company look like?
There are many answers for this one! Time and money are precious, especially for start-ups, so having them as an unlimited resource would change everything. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and have challenged my immediate answer multiple times to see if there was a better way to answer the question.
I like to think and dissect the thinking into many parts, always looking to challenge and debate. So this has question has been a great one for me to trigger that thinking….
My first answer still stands as the right one for me. Pricesearcher, with unlimited time and money, wouldn’t change.
Pricesearcher will always be driven with the same mission it was created for – To provide access to all the world’s prices across any vertical, product, good or service. The only look that matters to me is that, before the world buys anything, the world always ‘looks’ to check Pricesearcher first.
(We’d of course spend more to support the core KPI’s of the business but that’s all pretty standard).
What is the most important thing you are currently working on for your business?
Our most important endeavour right now is to introduce the world to Pricesearcher. Making sure we’re reaching the right people and spreading the message of how they can work with Pricesearcher. We’ve been named as one of the biggest e-commerce marketing channels in 2017 for retailers so ensuring that we live up to that is really important.
View Article – The next big marketing trends in 2017
As a search engine we’re free to list on and the potential to drive ‘shoppers/buyers’ to retailers is enormous. Evangelising this message is our Priority One!
What do you think the biggest change in your industry going to be in the next 10 years and how are you preparing for it?
I’ve got to say that we’re entering into the era of the unknown right now. Technology is advancing at such a pace that it’s virtually impossible, I believe, to predict the next 2 to 3 years. If I look at the industry at the highest level, which is the ‘Retail’ sector, perhaps the biggest change will be how store based retailers use technology to meet the needs and rapidly establishing habits of the tech enabled shopper.
The main change, for me, is going be about ‘discovery’. I’ll give one example of how discovery is important by taking a peek into the fashion world.
Technology has driven down the cost of goods to consumers. If you consider the price of ladies’ fashion compared to that of 10 years ago there is one significant change that’s taken place and its tech that’s made it happen. e-commerce has enabled new brands to emerge and compete for spend by selling goods at a cheaper price. With mantras of ‘direct from the manufacturer’ ‘no middle man’ ‘ we pass the savings on to you’ etc…so with that in mind, you have new sellers, stepping forward throwing their hats into the ring because tech has enabled them to do so.
To sell clothes you no longer need a shop based presence. So with more sellers competing, the next greatest challenge is attracting the buyer to your products and this is where tech has really come into its own. To be discovered is to be found and the way we are found is through content. The sellers message / advertising has to be pushed out constantly over a 24/7 period, as one way or another we’re always online.
Pricesearcher has a responsibility to play its part in this process with great purpose. We are preparing for the future by providing all retailers of any size an equal opportunity to be discovered, without the barriers of cost. With the advance of tech and the rapid growth of online content, we believe in the stability of an unbiased platform that shoppers can rely on for finding the best price and sellers can work with long term, without burning budgets.
Have you had to raise finance for your company and if so, how did you do it?
Plan > Outreach > Meeting > Present > Wait > More Waiting> Feedback > Adapt > Outreach > Meeting> Negotiate > Agree Terms > Legals > More Legals > Sign > Launch
What is your “why”?
We believe retailers and sellers of all sizes should have a platform to display their products to the world, with ZERO barriers to entry. For our users, wherever they are, should have unparalleled choice to discover products, prices and services that meet their needs.
How many hours do you sleep at night and does anything keep you awake?
Sleep was not a great friend of mine. In the early days of Pricesearcher I would be working during the day and working again in the evening until very late. When the opportunity came to work on Pricesearcher full time I would find myself waking at 0900 and working until 12 – 1 in the morning. It was an all-day affair and I seemed to always be working. After the business got its funding, the biggest change I made was to address my sleeping habit.
After much research, the evidence I uncovered, pointed towards the time I had to wake up in the morning. So, from Dec 1st I gradually pulled back 15mins each morning until I was able to wake up at 0600 without any issues. The process was Day 1 – 0700, day 2 – 0645, Day 3 -0630 etc. The biggest difference I noticed was that by 2200 I was getting very sleepy, almost unable to stay awake. This was what I had been missing, I’d never had that urge to hit the pillow. My biggest issue all along had been getting to sleep, my brain was so active at night, with all the ideas for Pricesearcher that I couldn’t get mentally tired enough to get to sleep.
However, thankfully, sleep and I are now having a good and steady relationship. We still argue every now and again but we’ve come a long way and we’re looking forward to a peaceful future 😉
I’m in bed at 2200 and out for the count shortly after. I wake in the morning fresh and ready. I’ve also seen a great change in my health as a result. I suffered a lot from headaches, no doubt too much screen time, which have gone now. Planning for sleep was one of the best things I did to support the energy that Pricesearcher requires and to keep up with the speed of its growth.
We know you love what you do but what have you had to give up for it?
We’ve not had a proper family holiday for about 3 years or so and this for me is has been the biggest sacrifice. The pressure mounts up when friends and family all holiday around you and my kids watch their friends and cousins talk about the fun they’ve had in the sun. So this for me is one of the biggest things I’ve given up. The space my wife has given me to go after my dreams and vision for Pricesearcher has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve had. She really is the woman in the quote “behind every strong man is a stronger woman”. Pricesearcher would not be what it is today without her. I also would like to credit the team that built the site with me during those years before the world even knew who we were. Raja spent many long nights with me writing the first lines of code, not knowing where this would lead us. We then met Paul who, from his garden shed, also worked nights and on the weekends to grow our initial user base. Vlassios then brought us the gift of scalable tech. Whether it be on the phone or Skype conference calls, they’ve been there with me, head scratching and solution hunting all the way. They’ve all got families behind them too and equally patient wives! My wife and I have 3 children, so as soon as my life settles down, I’ve promised to take them on a holiday of a lifetime (strong Wi-Fi signal locations only!).
Where’s the best place to find you if you aren’t at work?
At home (working)
Playing with my kids (whilst checking the phone)
Watching a movie (whilst watching my emails)
Relaxing with my extended family and friends (phone in pocket on vibrate)
My wife often jokes that the only time I leave the house, is if I know my destination has Wi-Fi or adequate mobile reception!
One for luck –
There are so many questions we could have asked you about, for example, mistakes you are glad you made, your best client story, your top offering, what your Plan B is, who are the best team players in your business and what do they do that’s so great, if you’ve won an award or been acknowledged for a fabulous or worthy contribution. We know we have asked you to spend time on this and we are grateful for having had it. So, we only want to ask one more thing (okay two):
What question do you wish we had asked you and what would your answer be?
Question: Do you think your business will change the world?
Answer: Yes. I was put on this planet to do this. The people we’ve hired for Pricesearcher were all meant to be there. They’re at the perfect stages in their careers, coming from amazing backgrounds and they’re all working for less than market rate because they believe in the mission, our start-up needs and the long-term value of the company. Our mission to provide access to all the world’s prices, has gripped us all. We’re not here because there is nothing else to do, we’re here because we believe the world needs Pricesearcher.
And now to complete a statement or 2
I wish I had…
a lamp, genie and three wishes.
I am going to…
never ever ever ever ever ever ever give up. Ever….
Finally, because we can’t take our eyes off it, tell us about the rocket ship in the image.
I built it myself. I’ve never done anything like this before and it was a big test for someone who has never owned a power tool!
Sheryl Sandberg gave a speech to the graduating class of Harvard Business School in 2012. In that speech, she talked about when she left the White House and went to Silicon Valley. She interviewed at Google and when she told Eric Schmidt that the role didn’t really meet any of her criteria and asked why should she work there, he replied, if you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.
I was really inspired by that story and I knew that with Pricesearcher I was building my own rocket ship and in time, I would want people to not ask where their seat was and ‘just get on’. I was casually sat there one evening and thought to myself that if I’m building a rocket ship it would be a real test to actually try and build one. That’s when my world turned upside down, as well as the house, for three months. As a creative person, it’s quite easy for my imagination to take over all logical thought and that’s exactly what happened with this. What was meant to be a small sculpture ended up being over 8ft high!!! Every weekend over the space of that three-month period I built it. I built that rocket ship. It was designed to leave the house through the front door. It didn’t quite work out like that and eventually I had to take a panel out of our window just to get it out of the house.
Every single one of our investors and team members have signed it. Some of the computer parts I used to build the Pricesearcher platform are inside it for everyone to see. To help people visualize themselves on the rocket I put mirrors where the windows should be, so they can see themselves in and on our mission to index all the world’s prices.
Read more about how Pricesearcher is taking on Google in this recent Independent article – UK start up takes on Google with ‘first ever comprehensive, unbiased shopping search engine’.