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Today I headed down to the meatpacking district and met with Drew Rayman. Drew is the founder of a new search tool named Attendi. When the PR firm first sent over the information about Attendi a few weeks ago, I checked out the site and passed on writing about it because frankly I was confused as to what the tool does. It was pitched to me as a "people search" which it clearly wasn’t after searching on several names and finding not one result. What I learned today is that Attendi is not a people search but rather a social knowledge management tool. Drew seems very motivated to make this concept work, now it’s all about the execution.
Here are my notes from the coversation with Drew. Attendi is attempting to build an index of insights in each of us and not an index of websites. The very basic idea is that each of us is an expert at something and after creating an Attendi profile, we wait for someone to need our expertise. Once called upon, we chat with that person about their questions on the topic and provide help. After the chat is complete, it gets archived in both users profiles, other users can rate the quality of the information provided and then the search function indexes the chat.
Once you get the idea of indexing chats between expert and infomation seeker, the system works well against that concept. You signup, create a page about your expertise and then someone can ping you for a chat when the need arises. The chat client works like any other chat client and notes that the chat is public. I would like to see that note be expanded to be noticeable during the entire chat. Drew says they are working on Facebook integration and an interface with other messaging tools including AOL Instant Messenger. You can select how you want to interact – both via IM and email, etc.
Drew defines their message as ABC:
- a – define your aboutness
- b – broker availability
- c – connect people
The tool is currently in a private beta, self-funded and has 4 full-time developers and 2 part-time marketers from Drew’s interactive agency, i33.
Drew has to work on defining the target market and making sure that the messaging hits that target appropriately. I believe moms and older people would be a great "expert" pool for this type of knowledge management tool. But to do that, the site has to be responsive to their needs. Tag clouds work well for geeks, but not so much for my mother. And Attendi needs to make sure that they have as many topics covered as possible – if I search once and find nothing, will I return? Probably not.
Lastly, the messaging has to create a strong RTB (reason to believe) — that is "why should I use this" for both the user looking for advice but more importantly for the expert. The latter is lacking as of today but Drew said they are getting ready to launch a new home page which will address my concerns.
If you would like an invite to the private beta, signup through this link on their home page. Drew said they would fast-track any users coming from CenterNetworks.