Agrupados.biz esta terminado

Agrupados.biz era un motor de búsqueda para encontrar todos los clasificados de Paraguay en una vez. Lastimosamente la página más grande del país esta desarrollando un sistema parecido y nos quiso demandar por ser competencia. Así decidimos no luchar sino cerrar nuestro servicio.

Pedimos disculpas de nuestros usuarios.

Abajo se encuentra la historia del proyecto en inglés.

How to not do a Search Engine Start Up

5 month ago I had the idea to create a search engine for classified ads here in Paraguay. I thought it would take 2 weeks to parse the ads of the three biggest classified pages that share probably 95% of the local market.

Two weeks of hacking and I had a prototype, wich I showed to a friend who works for many years in the local IT business. He liked it and I offered him 50% if we work together on this project. We made a handshake and I was happy to be able to concentrate on the cool technical stuff and having found somebody for the boring bizz part. We wanted make the site profitable by selling advertisement space on our page. He was teaching at the university at the time we talked, but unfortunately (for me) two month later he was promoted as the administrator of his faculty, so he almost disappeared due to work load.

I did a bad job at content licensing. I presented the project to one of my content sources which liked and approved it. I have no approval from the second the source but I know the bosses and at least mentioned it so I do not expect any problems. The third source is a problem. As soon as I had a prototype I also started talking to them. I called the project lead, whom I knew. He is also responsible for "Marketing and New Business Acquirement" in his company. Actually I called this guy 5 times and he always promised and never called me back. Here I should have written a letter, but I did not. I am a programmer so I programmed. When I made my first public launch in March I put this guy on the email list - no response.

Some friends triggered their friends on Facebook. So I got almost 200 likes in a few days but I had much less page hits than likers and who came to the page did not use it with a few exceptions. I am a programmer. So I made a Facebook app for it to integrate it better in Facebook, allowed for store a query and receive an email as soon as new ads which match the query pop up on one of pages I scan. Beside logging in with a user/password combination I users could log in with their Facebook accounts and more little things. I also spend a lot of time tuning the html parsing of the pages due to edge cases and some tricky Ajax reloading they did.

What I learned: Features do not attract new users if they have never heard about a site. Then a friend introduced me to Google AdWords and I also got a 100 dollar coupon. I tried it out and saw for one and a half weeks between 50 and 100 users a day, that's a start. About half of the visitors were actually using it to search but only a handfull users created an account. One funny observation is that about 40% of what the searches the people typed in had typos. Then one day the big boss of the biggest classified ad page in Paraguay stumbled over my site and immediately I received an email from one of his employees that I should delete all of their content and not even mention their name or display their logo.

I still do not understand why thy guy in charge of the page never wanted to talk to me. Probably he did not take it serious, he also never informed somebody in his company about my site. When his bosses boss himself found my site he got upset. I was hoping to partner up but learned that they also started up with a search engine for classified ads which works in other South American countries and they want to bring it to Paraguay soon, so I am just annoying competence, not a good basis for negotiation.

Lessons learned:

So now its time to look for another consulting job and afterwards head after the next idea that is fun to develop and hopefully one day feeds some mouthes.