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TWERQ was one of the first sites we reviewed on CenterNetworks. I was impressed with how much time and effort it saves with regards to searching. I started using it again this spring and now devote a tab to TWERQ. Below I ask founder Wesley Long about TWERQ: what it is, why it's better, how they generate revenue along with questions about the Canadian Web startup market and tips for ya'all building a startup.
Note: TWERQ is a current CN sponsor.
Allen: Can you provide a brief background about yourself?
Wesley: My name is Wesley Long and I have been a professional graphic designer for 15 years, 7 of which have involved website design and development. My experience with search leading up to the development of TWERQ in March of 2006 was strictly from a user perspective with some SEO.
Allen: What is TWERQ and where did the idea come from?
Wesley: The idea for TWERQ came from the frustration of using conventional search methods. I came up with the idea for tabs by just playing around with a design for what I felt would be the ultimate search interface. The name TWERQ which is pronounced as TWORK is an acronym for "The Web's Effective Result Query"
Allen: How does the service work?
Wesley: In many ways TWERQ works like any conventional search. People can search for information and content by keyword or phrase. There is however much more functionality under the hood so to speak.
TWERQ is designed to save you time. It addresses key inefficient navigation barriers with traditional search interfaces that collectively consume a large amount the time spent searching.
Allen: What's the team like at TWERQ?
Wesley: I have been lucky to work with people who are talented and care about the success of the company. Both the management and development team are great professionals and really great individuals who focus on the quality of user experience with ethical and responsible business practices.
Allen: Who are your competitors?
Wesley: With thousands of search engines being developed world wide and the clear domination of Google our competition seems staggering. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft could all be considered competitors although technically they are not due to the fact we display results from all three and let users choose which they prefer.
Allen: Why should I use TWERQ instead of just using Google?
Wesley: There are numerous benefits to using TWERQ. I think to best way to begin is to demonstrate with a simple example. If you are looking for news sources, you may want different kinds of news like world, technology or business news. Traditionally you would search for each of these items separately.
Simply enter the same three searches at once on TWERQ and what would have taken you about 25-30 seconds or more to do using any conventional search will take you 3-6 seconds on TWERQ depending on how fast you can type. TWERQ's interface offers a faster, easier way to navigate searches which can cut the time you spend searching in half. It reduces the amount of memory your system uses, the amount of typing required and offers a centralized solution to searching. Additionally with the TWERQ Hive people can work together and collectively find information even faster.
Allen: Do you have a monetization plan? If so, can you share some details? Are you funded?
Wesley: We are funded, though we do not disclose details or the amount of funding. I can tell you TWERQ is here to stay. Both our group of investors and development team are dedicated and committed to making the web and safer and easier place to search for information.
We intend to monetize initially with our SpotLight Advertising Program which is now available. SpotLight Ads offer advertisers more creative control over how ads are displayed. Advertisers pay a flat monthly fee which is determined by the number of keywords and campaign coverage. There are other plans in the works, all of which will contribute to our LuckyDay@TWERQ Program which shares 30% of the revenue generated with our users.
Allen: Can you share some details about your marketing plan?
Wesley: We are only in the early stages of marketing so again I can't say much. There is still much to be done in the lines of development before fully accelerating our marketing plans.
Allen: What's coming in the next 3-6 months for TWERQ?
Wesley: You will see many new features and enhancements of the existing features. I cannot say too much specifically, but what I can tell you is that you can expect a huge expansion on the number of available sources of information. You can also expect additional features and refinements to the TWERQ Hive.
Allen: Where do you see search moving over the next year?
Wesley: Many people believe search is moving in a more local and personal direction. This is the case in fact if you look at what Google and others are doing in these areas. I have a slightly different perspective in that search is without a doubt moving to a more localized approach but I think that rather then a more personal experience you will see a more collaborative and collective experience.
The problem with personalizing results in my opinion is it that it is a waste of resources and not very efficient. Computers simply do not have the ability to process any kind of information the way people can. Social and collaborative experiences essentially do this in a much more efficient yet fundamental way, word of mouth! This creates by far a better "personal" experience.
Allen: Do you find it harder to get startup buzz in Canada vs San Francisco/Silicon Valley?
Wesley: The power of the internet and blogs in particular has made that less of an issue I think. While it is true that being in the tech capital would have it's obvious benefits I do not think it is the key to creating buzz and gaining exposure to any startup. I think the key to creating buzz on the web besides having a compelling product or service to offer is the social motor of the web. It is truly making the world smaller and location less of an importance.
Allen: What's been your biggest lesson learned since you started TWERQ?
Wesley: Staffing is not easy! Like any start-up the hours are extreme and it can be tough finding people who care about and share your motivation and drive toward the same goal.
Allen: What advice do you have for those thinking about starting a web application?
Wesley: The best advice I can offer is be different. Really try to focus in on things you can use to separate yourself from your competitors. Many people say everything has been done but just when you think that, something completely new and different comes along. You have to be willing to try new things and different approaches. Another piece of advice I would offer is pay less attention to the hype or positive exposure, and more attention to the negative and constructive comments. This is the best way to learn how to improve or better present any software or web application.
Allen: Which RSS feeds are you reading these days?
Wesley: I follow CenterNetworks of course, TechCrunch, Read/WriteWeb, AlternativeSearchEngines, SearchEngineLand, Google, Go2Web20, and many more.
Thanks to everyone for continuing to support CenterNetworks, I am excited to announce that we just broke the Technorati 2k! Here are some updates from our excellent sponsors who help keep the rabbits spinning the wheels here! Please take a minute and visit their offerings.
TWERQ – our newest sponsor, TWERQ is a better (and smarter) way to search. There are loads of time-saving features including multi-search at once, collapsing titles, saved searches, search collaboration, etc. I have found it valuable when searching for company information as I use TWERQ as my search hub.
The Go BIG Network – The Go BIG Network is the World's Biggest Community of Startup Companies. Startups use Go BIG to find funding, recruit talent and get expert advice. They also have project listings and information about jobs within startups.
Zoho – one of the leaders in online office suites, Zoho has recently released two major upgrades. iZoho takes your favorite Zoho applications and allows you to access them from your iPhone. Raju has a demo video on the Zoho blog. Also, today they announced a Facebook app and there is an upgrade in the works for managing all of your Zoho documents centrally.
AdaptiveBlue – the team at AdaptiveBlue make the BlueOrganizer which increases your overall Web experience. Most recently they launched SmartLinks which take a regular link and transforms it into something much more powerful. In addition, Web site publishers and bloggers can also generate revenue from their use of SmartLinks.
WingSix – WingSix provides the hosting and server support for CenterNetworks. They have the absolute best support in the hosting business. Lastly, they launched a new customer web site last week.
If you are interested in sponsoring CenterNetworks, send in an email and let's discuss how CenterNetworks can help you maximize your marketing investment.
Some of the time-saving features include:
- Bulk search – search for multiple terms at once and open them in separate tabbed windows
- Forward/backward term search – using the bulk search, you can pull a term from the front or back into each bulk search term
- RSS feed search
- Page place holding – TWERQ remembers where you were so you don’t have to start from scratch each time
- Quicktags – these make searching easier
- Firefox plugin – make all of the TWERQ options available as an extension
They have several Flash videos that explain how to best maximize your use of TWERQ:
I think TWERQ is really an all-around great product. My only concern will be with its acceptance rate. People know to go to google.com. How do you get those same people to start to change their thinking and come to TWERQ instead. I think the videos can help gain acceptance as they put them on YouTube as well.