“You’ll be familiar with the age-old question that most young parents get asked about their kids: what do you think your child will be when he/she grows up? Well in my case, my mother and father had little trouble with this one—given the tens of disassembled 2-in-1 tape recorders to the hundreds of cannibalized alarm clocks that lay in my wake, I was destined to be an engineer. I’ve always been fascinated by any and all forms of technology and have been blessed to be part of a family that readily fueled this passion. Electronics, optics, mechanics… I grew up surrounded by books and doohickeys that only a geeky child could get excited about.I went on to complete my Engineering in Electronics, and shortly thereafter joined CHIP magazine during the time it was first launched in India, circa 1998. To me, this job was a dream come true—I got to play with the latest of computing gadgets, and write about them as well. Yep, I liked writing too. More specifically, explaining technology to people around me. And to be able to do so from a soapbox that enabled me to reach hundreds of thousands of readers? Yes, those were heady days.
The turn of the millennium marked an extremely exciting time for technology—so much happened in such a short period! The Internet bubble inflated and burst, ‘multimedia’ became a huge buzzword, and more importantly end users were becoming more acutely aware of how technology could truly help enrich their daily lives. The majority of the content we created in the magazine back then reflected these trends and end-user needs—technology insight articles, product comparison shootouts, buying guides and what not.
That’s when I became aware of the chasm of dissociation between what lay people needed, and the manner in which technology companies communicated their offerings. Pushing jargon and consumers didn’t fascinate them—it confused them. The decision to do something about this took seed seven years later. Talk about incubation!
Sure, I had to thrash through numerous questions about target audiences, business viability, revenue models et al, and of course the impending question: is this the right time to take the leap from The Enterprise to entrepreneurship? I guess the thing that did it for me was that inner voice. Over the years, it talked, reasoned, and even yelled at various stages. And when that voice reached a ‘don’t you dare ignore me’ pitch, I knew it was time to listen and take the leap.
It was mid-2009 when I knew I had a viable idea. End users are continually awash by waves of technology and mind-numbing jargon. Wouldn’t it be great to have a readily-accessible service that enables just about anybody to find the perfect product for their specific need, without having to bother about understanding the jargon? Something like an online version of that geeky cousin of yours, or that tech-savvy person in your office you always go to for advice when buying electronics.
So along with a gifted programmer who worked with me earlier, I started SpotMyGadget. We decided to build it upon three simple tenets. It should:
- Intuitively hand-hold an absolute end-user (even someone's grandparents!) through the process of buying current-day technology
- Completely eliminate the jargon from the decision-making process—only real questions, and direct answers
- Deliver as quick and intuitive an experience as possible
With our current database of over 880 products, SpotMyGadget delivers solutions to about 100 tech shoppers every day. We’re in various stages of discussions with both online and real-world retailers, from where our site’s visitors can buy suggested products. As consumers will continually require advice on technology, we plan to augment our services with numerous other products categories, and deliver solutions to the question: What <fill in the product> should I buy?
Yep, the geek in me couldn’t be happier.”
Marco D'Souza is well known in the industry as a specialist in the area of technology journalism. He is the founder and CEO of SpotMyGadget.com—a web-based service that helps end-users intuitively select and buy technology products based on their specific real-world needs. He was the erstwhile Editor of CHIP magazine, and is also a technology and editorial consultant.