Blog Post

Comparison Shoppers Get New Tools

Online shopping is supposed to be worth $211 billion in the U.S. alone this year, according to Forrester. At this point everyone from the big guys, the established names, on down, has a shopping comparison site, helping people find their way to hundreds of thousands of web-based stores and often taking a cut of consequent sales.

We’ve come across a couple of stealthy startups, TheFind and Ugenie, that promise to polish up online comparison-shopping. Both swear off paid placement in their business models, choosing alternatives like advertising and affiliate fees that don’t affect search results. And both have taken nice chunks of venture money to play out their experiments.

Branding is going to be really important for these vertical search engines, from the “shopcasting” of companies like ThisNext, to review aggregation from ViewScore and others, to bookmarking tools like Kaboodle — not even counting all the shopping, auction, and bazaar sites themselves — there are just too many names in this space. Pretty soon we’re going to need a comparison shopping engine for comparison shopping engines.

The first new site, TheFind, is the second coming of FatLens, the ticket search engine. We’d been told more than once that FatLens is a proof-of-concept; now the company has taken the password protection off the real concept: a product index generated by a shopping-optimized web crawler. The Mountain View-based company claims 500,000 stores and 150 million products are currently loaded up.

TheFind’s most interesting features are monitoring demand and supply to find the most popular products among retailers and bring them higher in results, registering price changes to flag sales, and saving marked items in a tray that’s anchored to the bottom of your screen no matter where you navigate.

The company, which has 27 employees and is based in Mountain View, has taken $8 million in first-round funding from Redpoint Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Cambrian Ventures, and is closing a Series B round now.

Another new startup in the space, Ugenie, which plans to launch in beta next week, is singularly focused on price comparison. The company adds two nice features to online shopping: first, computing taxes, shipping, discounts, and coupons (even finding coupon codes for you) to compare the actual “credit card damage”; and second, taking your multiple-item shopping list and finding the best way to bundle products across sites to minimize shipping charges and maximize discounts.

Ugenie also does its own crawling and extraction but for now it is manually limited to about 40 sites and the categories of books, music, movies, and games. The company says it hopes to get more involved with merchants in order to bundle products on the merchant side as well and to do online/offline price comparison.

The company was founded last May by two Amazon alums, Krishna Motukuri and Harish Abbot. It has raised $5 million in funding from BlueRun Ventures and Sierra Ventures and now has 15 employees.

Elsewhere in online comparison shopping, Mpire added features similar to both TheFind and Ugenie: increased support for coupons, pricing information, and trends, this week. added color search.

C’mon now. Isn’t the point of comparison-shopping to save us from going to a whole bunch of sites? We think TheFind and Ugenie make nice incremental improvements on what’s out there; let us know if it’s enough to draw you in.

31 Responses to “Comparison Shoppers Get New Tools”

  1. With our bandwidth issues here in South Africa slowly improving, the number of retail and shopping portals are also increasing at an exponential rate.

    Comparison shopping is taking off in a big way down here.


    • I think there’s a growing trend of these types of site emerging, but how can they evolve to be different from each other? I mean what’s the point of me using other coupons sites other than retailmenot for example? Will be interesting to see how things develop over the coming year.

  2. There’s been a good rise in the number of Bargain Hunting websites coming around lately which is fantastic. Especially here in Australia.

    It’s opened my eyes to hundreds of deals & shops that I wouldn’t normally have known about.


  3. I just came across a site I used to buy my books called, They are book price comparison search engine. I find their interface very user friendly and fast. They also have a book buyback & book rental comparison service. I find their book rental comparison very interesting, haven’t ever scene that before.

  4. SmartShopper (Comparison Shopping) uses smart product recognition and matching technology to actually recognize what it is people are looking to buy online and helpthem make better-informed decisions. It gives them everything they need at their exact point of search or purchase, including sotre and product ratings, reviews, tax and shipping info, local currency conversion, and even real-time eBay auction listings. Check it.

  5. Satish

    Online shopping with price comparisons has now come to India. looks like the first off the starting blocks. I’ve been using them to check a few prices already…and made a couple of purchases online. Not a bad start. Still a long way to go for online shopping in India. Very much in its infancy.

  6. Just having tested, (launched today) I find the implementation for shoes still the most straight forward. Has been around for 2 months now and growing. They have 90,000 pairs, they allow you to click on shoe images, the network recentres in a milisecond, with 5 clicks you know the shoe universe and you are happy to go and purchase. Great tool…

  7. Good point, D Ashcart. I suspect you’re right– eBay and Amazon stores are probably contributing hundreds of thousands of stores to this number.

    I suspect the average consumer thinks of these stores as simply part of eBay and Amazon. But “hundreds of thousands” sounds much more impressive than “two”. Ain’t marketing grand?

    Of course, my challenge to TheFind still stands.

  8. D Ashcart

    (In response to the comment from Mandeep)

    It’s all in the parsing … the article says that (1) TheFind uses a web-crawler and (2) they have 500,000 stores loaded up.

    You have unnecessarily made (2) a consequence of (1). They are probably using the EBay and Amazon APIs (those sites do not permit crawling) and I’m guessing the total number of EBay and Amazon stores contributes greatly to the number.

    Perhaps I should say it’s all in the marketing…

  9. Let me be the first to call “bullshit” on’s claim to have crawled 500,000 stores. Assuming they only cover the US, I suspect we’re dealing with funny numbers here.

    I challenge this company to publish its list of stores, with the URLs of their homepages, for all to see. If they really have this many, it’s a simple database dump and they should be proud to show off this accomplishment.

  10. SmartShopper ( uses smart product recognition and matching technology to actually recognize what it is people are looking to buy online and helpthem make better-informed decisions. It gives them everything they need at their exact point of search or purchase, including sotre and product ratings, reviews, tax and shipping info, local currency conversion, and even real-time eBay auction listings. Check it.

  11. Thanks for the shout out to for our new color search. We think is the one stop site that does it all for shoppers. We provide highly relevant product research based on our finely tuned algorithms and comparison shopping with all the bells and whistles from search by color, style, price and brand to providing total tax and shipping info and locating nearby stores for when you absolutely gotta have it today.

  12. Thank you for this post. makes it easy to collect products on the web and save them to any social/comparison shopping services. AddThis currently supports: Kaboodle, MyPickList, Wists, StyleHive, StyleFeeder, ThisNext. Looks like we should probably add these new services as well.

  13. I work for Wize. Wize ranks products primarily on quality as opposed to price. If you’re into comparison-shopping sites, or like most everyone else on the thread, working for one, it’s well worth a look.

  14. With our beta launch of, we are excited to offer the most comprehensive shopping search experience online today. This comprehensiveness allows us to understand the market dynamics of online commerce, and rank products and stores by what is most popular at a high-level, rather than by who pays us the most to advertise. Comprehensiveness, unbiased and relevant results, and an efficient design/experience are in the best interest of consumers, and that is what we have been focused on at TheFind.

    To clarify, we were venture funded in Jan 2005, and launched our proof-of-concept site, FatLens, in event-ticket search in June 2005 (just over a year ago). marks our evolution to a multi-category online shopping search engine. We are excited to address previously underserved categories such as apparel, health and beauty, home & garden, kids and family – areas that go beyond the traditional electronics and computers categories.

    With our beta launch, we are actively seeking feedback, in order to improve the site before coming out of the beta phase. Online shopping continues to grow, and we are excited to offer a new way of shopping online that is in the best interest of consumers, through comprehensive, unbiased and relevant, and efficient results.

  15. On the Internet, we always seem to be ‘searching’. Whether it is shopping deals, pictures, music or anything else, we are always searching. Any company that provides a meaningful and effective search tool will flourish.

  16. Hazel S.

    I was beta testing the other day. And all I can say is I am disappointed with the interface and data. I don’t see myself using it. The price is outdated and their crawler used some Fuzzy logic that does guessing game with the page layout.

    I think the investors will find it disappointing. With $8 million and 27 employees for 3 years, they could of done a better job. From what I know was done by 1 guy with $1200. It seem the technology is more precise.

    I have been using and is great for my plugin in firefox.