It was late 2009 when we came up with the crazy notion that we could make shopping better. We knew the hard nut to crack was not where to get the best price, but what product will best match your needs and make you happy. We were all photography buffs so we started off with cameras. In Jan 2010 lifehacker published our the first feature of snapsort, comparing cameras. It got shared about 20,000 times and the rest was history.
We felt the web was a treasure trove of information; being geeks we knew you could harness it to make great decisions, but we were incredibly frustrated with the time it took to unearth the details you needed. Information is spread thin, hidden in forums and locked in reviews; we’d find ourselves reading 15 articles before we found the perspective and info that we needed. Parsing through newsgroups run by rabid fans or digging up specs on a manufacturer web site wasn’t something you could do when you just wanted to make a great decision fast. Even worse, searching with Google and trying to find the right data using a tiny mobile screen is an exercise in self-punishment. Mobile needs a paradigm shift in how people find answers. We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on cameras, honing our recommendation skills in a space we enjoyed and felt we could provide value. In 2011 we began the quest to transfer what we’d learnt in cameras and apply it to more products. We launched Sortable.com in Jan 2012 and it was the culmination of our efforts to go beyond cameras.
In the last couple of years we’ve taken the service from zero to almost four million visitors a month. We’ve done this with nine employees, and minimal funding. We’re just a bunch of engineers with an idea. Right now we’re helping people make better decisions on what camera, phone, laptop, tv, lens, and tablet they buy. We’re very proud of this! With snapsort.com we have built one of the largest photography gear sites on the Internet.
The problem is we want to go faster. Much faster. Our technology has come a long way and we want to help people make all kinds of decisions not just gadgets. A competitor, Hunch.com, had an immense promise that we all loved but, ultimately, it failed to catch on with consumers. Our technology does work, users love it, return rates are drastically reduced, conversions are drastically increased and we offer advertisers a unique opportunity to engage users in a hyper-focused manner. We want to finish what we started and fulfil our vision of helping consumers make better decisions in all the areas of their life. We’re focused on organizing the web’s knowledge in a structured way and we didn’t want to get gobbled up and have our mission aborted by corporate overlords.
We’ve spent the last six months looking at how we can grow the business: where we can get the resources, what kind of dilution we’ll take, and how do we keep control. Along the way we started the conversation with Ted Hastings about what it would take to build a global scale consumer web business in Canada. Canada is not considered a consumer web powerhouse; SaaS, e-commerce, apps, and B2B are a different story but the Facebooks, Yelps, AirBNBs, Pintrests and Kayaks don’t seem to come out of Canada.
We want to grow our audience by an order of magnitude in the next couple years and that’s where Rebellion comes in to play. At Sortable we’re focused on mining the web for interesting data, building engaging communities, driving personalized answers based on huge data sets, driving conversions to retailers, and generating unique advertising opportunities.
Rebellion provides us a home where our mission gets supercharged, where we’re tasked with taking our technology and applying it to everything from real estate, movies, and restaurants to mutual funds, fashion, and travel. At Rebellion we’re going to have a simple mission: take what we do and do it at huge scale.
For our users, nothing is changing. We’re going to grow the team (we’re hiring!) as fast as we can and give you way more awesomeness. We’re staying in Waterloo. We hope the only thing you notice is how much better the service gets. We have a lot in the pipeline ready for August launch.
For our fellow lovers of photography we hope the expanded resources will mean an even better snapsort and the same great experience you’ve come to love translated to all the things you need. Thanks for loving what we do and supporting us.
Chris, Alex, Mark and the Snapsort/Sortable Team