Jim Fowler demonstrated the power of crowd-sourcing data with his company Jigsaw, which gathered contact information and was eventually sold to Salesforce for $175 million in 2010. Now, Fowler is back and he’s applying a crowd-sourced model to competitive intelligence, using a team of freelance researchers to build business reports on private companies.
InfoArmy is coming out of stealth Tuesday and showing how his team of researchers can create comprehensive reports on companies that are updated regularly and are designed for the iPad. The reports cover a wide range of topics, including top competitors, executive bios, product descriptions, customer data, press releases and other stats. The idea is to arm business people with interactive reports right on their iPads as they head into meetings, giving them relevant information at their fingertips.
InfoArmy will charge $99 for a company report, which gives customers access to three successive quarterly updates. The money will be split 50-50 beween InfoArmy and two researchers — a primary and senior researcher — for each report. The researchers will be motivated to keep updating their reports or they will lose out on future revenue from the reports they author. And there’s no cap to what a researcher can make. InfoArmy currently has about 100 researchers spread around the world but the plan is to eventually recruit thousands of them, to create reports in all kinds of languages.
“We collect all the different information that you as a reader need. It’s about drilling down and getting progressive disclosure,” Fowler told me in an interview. “It’s very difficult to crawl all this information and get the accuracy needed for enterprise customers. Everything we do is hand collected by a primary and senior researcher.”
Fowler eventually wants to offer an unlimited seat license to companies, so they can get access to all the reports InfoArmy will offer. Researchers can sign up for reports they want to write up at InfoArmy.com, and it takes seven reports and an approval from InfoArmy to become a senior researcher. There are already several hundred reports on companies available now on InfoArmy.
InfoArmy will face competition from the likes of CapitalIQ, Thompson Reuters and CB Insights and others who are generating data on companies. But Fowler believes InfoArmy can stand out because of its crowd-sourced approach to the problem, which allows for massive scale when the system gets up and running. Also, the iPad focus is also unique and plays on the power of tablets for information consumption, Fowler said.
Fowler funded the San Mateo, Calif.-based company with $1 million of his own money along with another $1 million from John Peterson, who previously invested in Jigsaw. If Fowler can make InfoArmy into a go-to resource for business people and sales teams, he could have another hit on his hands and who knows, perhaps Salesforce might come calling again.
This story was corrected after publishing with the correct first name for John Peterson.