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Q&A with Michael Cohen
July 26, 2007

Michael Cohen in the Office Q: Many tech companies, even those in Silicon Valley and other tech centers, are voicing concerns about the lack of qualified employees.  Have you experienced similar issues in developing Find Event Fast™, especially in Vermont?

A. As a native Vermonter, who has lived and worked in various states and previously started tech businesses here, I was familiar with both the challenges and benefits of being in Vermont.  The company was conceived and designed to be a virtual entity from the very start.  Broadband Internet connections have greatly increased access to the most appropriate people for particular roles.  Our first choice is to support individuals and businesses in Vermont and the region.  The ultimate goal is to work with the best individuals available regardless of where they prefer to live.  

Q: How was the company financed?

A. To this point the company has been self-funded.  Keeping it lean and focused has made that possible.  A little bit of Yankee frugality helps, too. 

Q: What about in the future?

A: That is a good question.  Some level of additional funding will likely be necessary, based on our rate of growth, etc. We are looking at several options and will select a solution that works best for everyone.

Q: You state that Find Events Fast™ is unique in several ways from your competitors. Upcoming was acquired by Yahoo and Eventful boasts millions of Events.  How will you compete?

A. Thanks for asking.  There’s clearly room for multiple players.  Unlike broad, horizontal markets, such as traditional Internet search engines, where major competitors offer the same basic service to an identical audience, vertical and niche market companies can easily differentiate themselves and successfully coexist by appealing to specific market segments.  

Our task is to stay focused on the quality and integrity of our Event listings.  We will also remain true to our mantra, 4 Clicks or Less™, and support the goals of our Attendees, Organizers, Advertisers, and Publishers.  

Q: Is that the only way?

A. Yes.  We focus on our four customers: Attendees who are seeking to find and discover Events of interest; Organizers who want more effective and easily managed promotion of their Events; Advertisers who want to precisely target display ads; and Publishers who want to offer more and higher quality content to their visitors.  Everything we do is designed to benefit all four groups.  

Q: Do you have any plans to simply harvest information from other Web sites or allow the anonymous posting of Events?

A: No.  We will, however, create tools to make it easier for our Event Organizers.  One example, for those with large numbers of Events, will be the ability to enter and maintain their listings with a single file transfer.  

Q: Zvents currently has a large number of newspaper partners. You mention licensing the Find Events Fast™ Event Engine to Web Publishers.  Are you also targeting newspapers?  

A: We have developed criteria to identify compatible Publishers and have spoken with many potential licensees.  Newspaper, Community, Destination, and Special Interest Web sites like art shows are some of those who have indicated a strong interest in obtaining a license.  

Q: You are managing your own ads rather than using a third-party ad network.  Why is that?  

A:  We want to be consistent in the quality control of all content and that includes the ads.  Just as all Organizations are vetted for suitability of their Events to be displayed to a general audience, we apply the same criteria to Advertisers and their marketing messages.  In addition, we are developing our LifeStyle Targeted Marketing™ system to allow us to much more precisely match specific ads to an individual’s interests.  

Third-party ad networks do not provide us with the same level of quality control with respect to the particular ads that appear or the flexibility choosing the most appropriate ads to be displayed based on each individual’s interests.  

Q: That sounds very much like Behavioral Targeting.  Is it?  

A: Our LifeStyle Targeted Marketing™ system is based on the same fundamental goal, displaying ads appropriate to an individual’s interests, as is Behavioral Targeting.  In our case, we do not track prior Web history or engage in data mining to accomplish that goal.  

Q: You currently have a number of ads on FindEventsFast.com for tourism destinations.  Are they paid ads?

A: Not at the moment.  As we began reaching out to Event Organizers we offered everyone who posted a certain number Events a free space-available ad.  They provided content and we rewarded their efforts.  

Q: Do you have other plans to reward Event Organizers?

A: Yes.  We have just completed one other program.  More are planned and the details will be communicated to all Organizers who post Events.

Q: Web 2.0 startups, with sophisticated Web interfaces, social networking, and other features, are very much in the news.  Why doesn’t FindEventsFast.com offer any of that?

A: FindEventsFast.com is specifically designed to help Event Organizers effectively promote their Events and Attendees to find and discover Events of interest in 4 Clicks or Less™.  Just because certain tools and technologies are available doesn’t mean that it makes sense to use them.  We only use what is required to quickly and easily produce the results that our customers are looking for.  

That’s not to say that we haven’t taken those, and many other things, into consideration.  The platform is designed to be both scalable and extensible.  

Q: Both scalable and extensible?  

A: Yes, very much so.  An additional benefit of our straightforward, commonsense design is that, as usage increases, our current platform can easily be scaled without the need for large and complex server farms.  It is also designed to be quickly and easily extended with any additional features and functionality that truly add value for our customers.  

That same flexibility, due to our virtual operational structure, extends to the company's staffing and operations as well.  

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