For Data Geeks, the Gift of Search

Startup Datafiniti launches marketer-friendly search engine for data

Imagine a Google search that returns a spreadsheet of compartmentalized factoids, rather than a list of links. Sounds complicated to the average Google searcher, but to data junkies, especially direct marketers, it may be extremely helpful. 

Datafiniti, a startup launched today by the founder of Web-crawling service 80legs, aims to make data collection easier. The company’s database compiles information on six different categories: location and places (including business name, address, and reviews), social and identity (including employment, Twitter handles, and feeds from publicly available social activity), product information, news, daily deals (including merchant names, prices, and dates), and real estate.

The data is compiled by Datafiniti’s Web crawlers from 10 to 100 different sources containing 50 million rows of data—a potential gold mine to marketers, developers building applications, or even real estate agents seeking market pricing information.

According to founder and CEO Shion Deysarkar, old school competitors like Infogroup and Experian Information Solutions are stuck in old-school business models—their databases are verified by humans on telephones (telephones!), which creates a high overhead. Meanwhile, in many cases their services aren’t self-serve. To buy data, marketers must comb through catalogues of datasets. Even most new and upcoming data companies use the browsable interface model, he says.

Datafiniti’s database relies on its Web-crawling technology to compile and verify its information, cross-checking it against multiple sources. The Web crawlers eliminate the need for human verification, which allows Datafiniti to charge less for its data, Deysarkar says. Clients pay after generating a list only if they want the data. Anyone can run a search on DatafinitI; once results are generated they can be printed to a file for an incremental fee.

No word on whether a major search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo could quickly replicate Datafiniti’s business model, but while those companies fry bigger fish, Datafiniti will continue churning out spreadsheets.

The company has launched with a handful of clients, including a promotional company seeking tee times for golf courses in a certain region, a firm marketing to healthcare professionals, and a book retailer looking to do price analysis on the Internet. Journalists at the Daily Dot use it; so does open data platform Factual, online local marketer ReachLocal, and app developer SimpleGeo.

Datafiniti, based in Houston, has $2 million in venture backing, which was raised from Cleeris Ventures in 2009.