The Innovation Trail's Ryan Delaney reports that a Syracuse-based firm is hoping to flip that industry on its head, and investors have noticed.
Patrick Ambron and the rest of the guys behind BrandYourself.com are just
trying to offer an easy way to do something we’ve always done: protect our
As more information about us has ended up on the internet, the online reputation management business has grown along with it.
Online reputation services use search engine optimization to bury bad links and make sure positive ones show up at the top of Google — but for a hefty price. Industry leader Reputation.com's services start at $3,000 a year.
Syracuse-based BrandYourself has decided to shake up that business model. Launched in early 2011, they'll now be offering their services for free.
BrandYourself is trying to bring reputation control to the masses.
Their newly refurbished site will allow users to optimize their search results with a ‘do-it-yourself’ platform. Users can get more features by upgrading to a premium level.
Influential investors like Barney Pell, one of the principals behind Microsoft’s Bing search engine, think BrandYourself is on to something.
"The guys just raised more than $1.2 million in investment," according to Ambron.
Andy Beal is a reputation consultant, author and founder of social media tracking site trackur.com. He says the industry could use some changes.
"Reputation.com is the 800 pound gorilla of the space and they've done a very good job of positioning themselves as the dominant force. And if someone can come in and shake up that notion and offer something that is free and does a good enough job for a majority of people then I think it's good for that entire segment of the industry."
But Beal warns the field of competitors trying to take down Reputation.com is crowded. And the tricky part for BrandYourself will be getting those free users to switch over to the premium level to generate revenue.
The guys behind BrandYourself.com, all in their early 20s, still work out of an office at the Syracuse Tech Garden where they started in 2009. They usually put in 15-hour days and the office reflects that. There’s more than one coffee pot and half-finished bowl of cereal sitting around.
BrandYourself has about 20,000 users. They hope with the free model, that'll increase to about 100,000 by the end of the year. Reputation consultant Beal says the market is big enough for that.
The BrandYourself co-founders will be showing off the site at this year's South By Southwest conference. Taking a break from those 15-hours days is not in their schedule though; they say they’re having too much fun.