niche Search Engine

snrubsnrub subscriber Posts: 3
edited September 2007 in Business Planning
Hi everyone!
I jumped on here some time back asking for advice on whcih business to get into and what to contemplate. Since then i`ve had some good little testing forays and have spent some time thinking about what I enjoy doing.
The truth is...that i`m a geek, evenif I dont look like one So i`ve been seriously contemplating writing and selling software. The ROI is good and my startup costs are clearly very small. So i`ve been doing that in a small manner and have been doing allright out of it....not great but steady enough to just live off...which for a startup, online business is pretty good.
Anyway, an idea has struck me of late and its definitely something i`m interested in looking at. That is...starting a search engine.
Now, its got to be the hardest nut to crack as far as revenue goes and actually making a reasonable fortune out of it is like punting on the horses...competing with Google is not something that i think would beviable with my limited budget.
So i am considering doing something on more of a niche country specific level. Being that i am an aussie I am considering putting together a search engine that indexes and cataloges primarily Australian commercial websites.
The best thing about it is that i`ve already written and modded the software to do it. in my limited trials its working well and returning query results in about 1 second. itsnot google but for this purpose its pretty robust and stable.
Anyway, I was wondering what you would think of the business model where I basically index most Australian commerical sites and then offer them a priority listing at the top of the keyword search term for an advertising fee.
This advertising fee would be on a space per bid basis...therby a competing firm could bid a higher rate for that position etc.
I think the biggest hurdle would be getting consumersearch traffic and the branding that would entail. This is possibly something that I would need to seek a marketing budget through a VC offering etc.
anyway, it was my contention to target either a local, country specific market or a niche market such as a specific business type.
At this stage its just in the thought/concept stage and i`m still tinkering with the software but I would love to hear feedback or tips from anyone.
So hit me with it!
Cheers
 

Comments

  • snrubsnrub subscriber Posts: 3
    Hi Craig!
    Thanks for the quick response...now your really getting at the heart of it. I guess its one of the problems with being a tech head...we tend to run into the technology side of things because its `cool`.
    I was sort of considering pursuing a model somewhat like Yahoo where they categorize a directory and then intermix it somewhat with their search index results after the priority cat listings etc. But you have given me some interesting points to consider.
    Your right in respect that its not really a niche if Google aleady has it indexed and I guess to a certain extent I would be fighting their .AU index that G does for local content as well.
    That was primarily my concern with the difficulty in branding something like this when Gcurrently already serves it up...albeit in more of a global flavour.
    It`s interesting though that you mention information that isnt currently indexed...or even if it is,not indexed in an easily available form.
    If i could come up with something that isnt currently web listed and then import and crawl it and crawl it and organise it using my search engine itmight turn into something that is popular.
    Now...please provide lots of million dollar ideas that I can create a information database portal around lol
    Thanks for the in-depth response craig
    Snrub
  • snrubsnrub subscriber Posts: 3
    Your right there Craig...I really dispise some of the proprietary software packages around. Its starting to get worse to considering the emergence as C# as a viable language with the managed libraries etc. What that does is lock people into the .NET framework. Thereby solidifying Microsofts grasp on the OS market.
    Now dont get me wrong C# is a great language and really quick and easy to use but I hate the fact that by using it you are indeed perpetuating the pre-eminence of a specific company. Back in the late 80`s I would have said that this would never have had happened.
    Anyway, thats enough of a rant about microsoft being the devil
    i would dearly like to create valuable software and working as a contract software developer/engineer is rewarding but I set out to become a entrepreneur.
    It might be silly to strive to make my fortune in IT and I might fal flat on my face but I would really like to try. Software developing...on contract is great money but its never really going to give me the success factor that im looking for. Now developing my own software that has definite possibilities.
    My only concern is the marketing aspects of trying to sell software...it canbe some what murkey. But again I guess it depends on what cutting edge stuff you can come up with, as good software sells itself.
    Anyway, thats enough ranting from me...I like coming here just to bounce ideas and think through problems
    Cheers Again
    Snrub 
  • snrubsnrub subscriber Posts: 3
    Some really good advice and ideas here guys.
    Okay, so i`ve done a little digging and a bit of reading on the software industryand the difference between the major horizontal and vertical markets. It seems clear that i would need to target a small niche market with a product that solves a significant problem.
    Now assuming that I can come up with a specific niche and problem to target how would you go about marketing it because in the initial stages, i doubt that a software reseller would market my products etc.
    Some initial ideas I had were:
    * Upload to all the software directories like download.com
    * Press releases
    * Direct mail to companies in the target niche
    * time limited LITE version uploaded to torrent sites
    Its a small start but i want to hammer out the ideas of a basic marketing angle before I run down the road of creating something which i cant sell. I mean the technical stuff just takes time and will fall into place but my market positioning is what makes or breaks a small software company.
    Anyway, just a coupld of thoughts
    Cheers,
    steve
     
     
  • robertjrobertj Tampa Bay, Floridasubscriber Posts: 0 Member
    Craig,
    I`m afraid I must disagree with your last. As a long time Silicon Valley business person, I have seen many products that were developed without customer consideration or input.
    I believe that it is important and saves money if one maintains some synchronization between the product development and customer development process and I believe the best way to begin is to define the "problem" that the product will resolve -then talk to some people who have the "problem".
     
  • snrubsnrub subscriber Posts: 3
    Thanks to everyone for some great advice!
    I`ve got a fair amount of work to get my ideas down on paper and start the research and development phase. I think that i`ve got my specific niche problem worked out and I just have to go and validate my beliefs with some of the niche customers.
    Just to give you a hint it has to do with SEO software for webmasters...but rather than going after a big brand like IBP Arelis or Webposition gold etc its more set to a very specific niche. Anyway, i`ll post some more when i`ve got a bit of research to back it up.
    That actually brings up a good point...where does one go to find specific research numbers,market size, segments etc in the software industry? and do they typically break it right down into verticals etc?
    Anyway, thanks again guys...all your inputs have been really valuable.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
     
  • TrailBossTrailBoss subscriber Posts: 0
    MashUP!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashup_(we ... ion_hybrid)Why not see if there is a way to use their technology for your purposes?You may look for more than .au to filter on, how about country codes or phone prefixes.You may have to reexamine your business model to make it work but the price to play would be lower too, and you maybe able to flip it to one of the big guys later.
  • robertjrobertj Tampa Bay, Floridasubscriber Posts: 0 Member
    Craigl,
    I agree - there is a point where one has to "fish or cut bait".
    On the other hand, I`ve seen a lot of "build it and they will come" approaches to the new product development process.
    I think it`s a matter of balance between research/planning and action. I know it works better when one does things in the optimum sequence.
  • Fred333Fred333 subscriber Posts: 0
    I think especially dealing with the internet you need to feel out your idea by doing lots of research on the net and making sure that some one has not already do it. Definitely though you can have the build it you they will come because there are many ways for people to find you or for you to be noticed on the net.
  • LouleuzziLouleuzzi subscriber Posts: 0
    how about an Open Source federated / faceted searching solution? connect as many databases to it and package up applets by industry. what do yo think? feel free to email or call me.
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