Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Decision Engine Pikimal Aims to Empower Online Consumers

Decision Engine Pikimal Aims to Empower Online Consumers


Name of Social Enterprise and URL?


What is your product or service?

Pikimal is a decision engine that collects mountains of data on products and other topics. We take all of that factual information and make it accessible to users through our easy Piki interface.

In order to understand who Pikimal is, you need to understand who Pikimal isn’t. We’re not a search engine. We’re not a review site. We’re an online decision engine that allows users to find almost anything (products, places, careers) that best fit their need and lifestyle. What’s different about our approach is that we provide our results based solely on the facts.

Date officially launched?

Pikimal was launched in public beta in October 2010.

Why was this social venture created?.

When most people search for something online, they seldom realize that they’re being handed a carefully crafted list of results. The top recommendations are in place because of biased, aggressive online marketing. You may have heard the term “search engine optimization.” It sounds fancy, but all it means is this—there are tricks companies can use to ensure that their website appears first on sites like Google and Yahoo. Unfortunately for users, these tactics have little to do with what consumers actually want. People were putting a lot of misplaced faith in search and customer reviews.

That’s how Pikimal is different. We combine user input with an advanced algorithm that focuses solely on the facts and specifications about the topic in order to remove the typical marketing and SEO bias from search. Pikimal was created as a search community where users can get honest and customized information about their product-related needs. The best social aspects of reviews have been combined with the reliability of data and facts all in one place.

Could others help you and how?

The more active users we have as part of Pikimal, the better our site becomes. One user’s experiences and expertise can save someone else hours of research or post-purchase regret.

Decision Engine Pikimal Aims to Empower Online Consumers


How many people currently work (including freelancers or independent contractors) for your company?

We currently have 14 employees working in our Pittsburgh headquarters spread across development, content, and marketing. We also have various online contractors around the world.

Do you use social media to get the word out?

We love social media and use it all the time to keep our users up-to-date with what’s new at Pikimal. We also have a daily Piki ball giveaway. What more could anyone ask for?
Company Blog:

What is the best advice you never got?

The advice that I think I needed as a third-time entrepreneur was a bit different than when starting out. I’ve learned a lot of new lessons this time around about new employees, building a team, marketing a product, and making money online, but nothing that really sticks out above the rest. Perhaps the best advice is still waiting out there.

What is the one thing that you did right?

We hired the right people. It’s been a lot of work, but the team that we have now is brilliant, motivated, independent, and really fun to be with.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

The hardest thing for me was realizing how long it takes to build a new venture. When starting out, I don’t know that I had a time-frame in mind, but I know that it was surprising to realize that building the best possible way to make decisions online was going to take years or even decades!

Are you doing any type of Search Engine Optimization?

The most important thing we do is create useful content, tailored for a specific user. Our recommendation engine is aware of what people are looking for, why they’re looking for it, and what sort of refinements that they make to their search. By making all of that learning available in text, we have a lot of “long tail” pages available. Past that, we really just ensure that what we’re publishing is clear to search engines and trust that the quality of our content will win out in the end.

Decision Engine Pikimal Aims to Empower Online ConsumersWhat can you tell other potential social entrepreneurs who are deciding to make a difference?

When I first created Pikimal it was a not-for-profit corporation. Unfortunately, I was unable to raise funds to pursue this dream. By instead building out a recommendation engine which monetizes through ads, affiliates, and lead-gen, we were able to find other people who both believed in our vision and were willing to finance it. Before Pikimal, I’d been a Peace Corps volunteer, but continually saw my own efforts up-staged by multi-national corporations active in-country. I’d encourage other entrepreneurs to take to heart that the work they do matters to the world and that by pursuing their goals in an ethical and transparent way that they’re making a real difference.

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