What happens when you show normal folks Mahalo…

{saving time by hartichocked via CC }

I get these great emails and IMs from Web 2.0 folks all the time. As I’ve said before some services are designed for the top .001% of the market and some are designed for the “the market.” That’s one of the things I learned a lot about while at Graduate school (also known as my 12 months @ AOL LLC). There is a very large market out there for internet services and that market is filled with folks who want simple, easy to use services that they trust.

Mahalo was designed for those folks. If you love submitted stories to digg, load TechMeme 12x day, and have over ten Facebook applications installed you’re probably not the target market for these simple services–and that’s totally cool! Some folks are cutting edge, few folks are bleeding edge, and most folks are just getting on with their life.

Anyway, here’s today’s IM that made me really smile:

  • Hey, thought you might like a quick perspective I heard yesterday. Talking to a local friend of mine (40-50) who takes a lot of holidays and was complaining about how hard it is to find good travel on Google (hotels, destinations etc SEOd to death).

    I showed him Mahalo and he was blown away… he was wondering if he could pay money for it or something. He was amazed something so useful was free to use. He was really happy to save, literally, hours of painful Google research for his next few trips.

    so you know you’re doing something right when the typical ‘man on the street’ is excited for Mahalo and adds it to his bookmarks.

Couple of important points in this anecdote:

  1. Human’s curating search can save other humans a LOT of time.
  2. Certain verticals benefit more from human curation: travel, products, news, and health come to mind.
  3. When people love a service they bookmark it. That’s the Holy Grail of product design, getting someone to bookmark your service.
  4. People do pay for the service Mahalo provides for free currently: they pay for it with THEIR time. They pay for by asking their loved ones or employees to do research. We save folks a LOT of time and money, and if you create a service that does that you’re going to have an impact.

Anyway, I love these stories… so, if you want to conduct a little experiment forget about the hype around human search, SEO, and my public persona–that’s all meaningless. Sit one of your friends or family members down and show them one of our search results next to Google, Yahoo, or Ask and watch the magic happen.

If I had not have done tons of market research in this fashion (including with out in-house testing lab) I would not have even started Mahalo (let alone raised capital to go after this market). At this point in my career I put my faith not in what A-List bloggers and pundits think, I put my faith in my I see in user labs. Pundits don’t know jack about the market, the MARKET knows about the market (and you can include me in that pundit list… if you consider me a pundit).

Hope everyone is having a great weekend… I’m suffering with a throbbing jaw and mouth sores. Pass the vicodin.

{ vicodin by prodigal via CC }

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