"If my Doctor or Lawyer is doing research, I hope they aren’t just doing a Google keyword search!"
Scott Rummler is the founder of ESPfoMe, a new search technology that uses predictive algorithms. ESPforme works by using prediction instead of keyword popularity.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your company – what is ESPforMe all about?
ESPforMe is a new way to do search that provides better results, and is more fun than Google.
It works by prediction rather than keyword popularity. This is really the way to do search because the results are better quality – they’re not biased by advertisers and ranking gimmicks. Also, it is interactive, with a mind-bending adjustable filter, so it’s easy to find related results. So basically, it’s precisely the view of the Web that Google doesn’t want you to see. Google search result algorithms drive only the most popular stuff over and over, alongside their sponsored ads. But I don’t think that’s what the Web should be about.
E4M shows related social media posts, and user comments, right in the search results, and allows anyone to post a free ad, which will appear in context, rather than be a distraction.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?
I began my career as a librarian. That’s where they really teach you how to search, including tools like Lexis and Medline. Most people don’t know how powerful these search tools can be. They have built-in search commands, indexes, and syntax. If my Doctor or Lawyer is doing research, I hope they aren’t just doing a Google keyword search!
Q: What are some of the projects you are working on right now?
ESPforMe is a search engine. I also have other startups. BooleanGrid is an iPhone/iPad app that can predict the stock market using quantum mechanics. And Laserthread is a new way to do social networking.
Q: What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company?
We’re growing the database of ESPforMe, and also in the next couple of months will make it a truly hands-free search experience. But that is top secret for now!
Q: How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m probably building them in the back of my mind all the time. I’ve done a lot of work in information architecture and user experience design. My original degrees were in art. So it all fits in together.
Q: What’s one trend that really excites you?
I think people are fed up with the status quo. The idea that Google and Facebook can monopolize the Web, and squeeze out the smaller shops, where the creativity comes from, is anathema to so many people that they won’t tolerate it forever. I hope the revolution happens before the next bubble though.
Q: What were the top 3 mistakes you made starting your business and what did you learn from it?
I think I made all the mistakes you can make. Wrong developers, wrong ideas, not connecting with the customers.
Q: How do you go about marketing your business, and what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?
Well I’m not selling widgets. And it’s a bit of a challenge because I’m taking on Google with essentially no resources. So it’s about communicating new ideas, and encouraging people to take a step back. One thing about search, people really are brainwashed by it. Mentally and physically, people are doing thousands, millions of searches, like zombies on autopilot. So getting through is the main challenge.
Q: What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur – and why?
I’ll tell you after I’ve made it big! For now I’d say innovation, a way to make it practical, and an ability to absorb feedback in a way that strengthens your vision of what could be.
Q: What are the top 3 online tools and resources you’re currently using to grow your company?
The public library has great free databases – thousands of publications you’d normally have to pay for, that you can search at once.
Q: What are three books you recommend entrepreneurs to read?
Anything by Ash Maurya, saw him speak last night at a Brooklyn startup event, plus he went to RIT like me!
Q: What is your favorite entrepreneurship quote?
Yogi Berra: “In theory, there’s no difference between theory and reality, but in reality there is.”