‘Referral Service’ Initiates Search

TFA/Leo Burnett Invited to Pitch $10-20 Mil. Branding Task
BOSTON–IWant.com, a Web service designed to help connect buyers, sellers and traders, is seeking an agency to differentiate its brand in the face of established competitors such as eBay.
The Burlington, Mass.-based firm was launched last week with assistance from TFA/Leo Burnett Technology Group in Boston. That shop designed the site and is invited to participate in the review, said IWant.com vice president of marketing Mark Belinsky, who is overseeing the search with no help from outside consultants.
“We intend to be a major consumer player,” and a nationwide branding push with print and broadcast components is planned, said Belinsky.
Ad spending, contingent on the client’s next round of venture financing, is expected to be $10-20 million, said Belinsky. Matrix Partners, Waltham, Mass., has been a key backer thus far, and the final ad budget will be set within 60 days, Belinsky said.
IWant.com is hoping to find an agency that has experience building brands for both online and offline companies, Belinsky said. Splitting the creative and media portions of the business is a possibility; though geography is not a strict consideration, agencies with a presence in New England are strongly preferred, he said.
Belinsky, who most recently served as club development president for Trans National Group in Boston, is drawing up a list of initial contenders and will likely meet with shops over the next few weeks. He hopes to have an agency on board by mid-September but acknowledged the process may take longer.
IWant.com was founded by president and chief executive officer Shabbir Dahod, who had been a senior manager at Microsoft Corp., where he worked on the Redmond, Wash.-based company’s Office line of products. He has also held management and product development posts with Asymetrix and SuperCede, a company formed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Though it competes with eBay to some extent, IWant.com does not host auctions. Rather, it is intended as a “personal referral service” through which buyers, sellers and traders of goods and services–from commercial plumbing to fine china–can connect.
No bidding takes place, and deals are negotiated directly between parties, Belinsky said. “We are trying to build personal interaction,” he added.
IWant.com lets buyers anonymously post their “wants”; sellers review and respond. The site guides consumers by breaking down “wants” into categories such as “collectibles,” “home,” “real estate” and “travel.”
The service is free for now, but sellers will eventually be charged a fee, Belinsky said.