Welcome to another ReviewMe review, this time ordered up by the good folks at iBegin Source, an online service that opens “up local business data to everyone. Normally costing $350k+, we have brought this down.”
So, what kind of “local business data” are we talking about?
Isn’t This Just the Yellow Pages?
In a nutshell, yes. Catering only to the United States, iBegin Source offers a huge business directory wherein you can access all the integral information about any retail outlet, corporate office, or what-have-you. The directory will pull up the address, phone number, and a Google map of the specific business you’re interested in.
So, why would you use iBegin over any number of other similar directories? Well, the key here is that while the information is freely available for you to look at on their website, what iBegin Source really wants you to do is buy this business data for use on your own website. The license is free for non-commercial use, but as soon as you want to make a buck or two off of this information, you’ll have to pony up for a commercial licence.
I’m not sure where they got this information from, but iBegin is claiming that “other data brokers can cost more than $500,000.” By contrast, they’ll sell you the full onslaught of business data for $1,000 per state. If you purchase information for the entire United States, then you get a 20% discount, effectively making your price $40,000. When you purchase the commercial licence, you also get geocoded addresses. This information would have already been cleaned and de-duped (no duplications), and iBegin Source will continually update the data through a variety of means, including a wiki open to all members.
There’s plenty of info here too, as iBegin Source claims to have over 10 million total business listings, including well over one million in California alone. That’s a lot of data.
What Can I Use This For?
I don’t think I personally have any use for the local business data that iBegin has to offer and it’s not because I’m in Canada and they only have American data. If you’re looking for specific information about one store in particular, it would probably be easier to go to that company’s website directly.
In terms of applications, I’d imagine that phonebook companies, special interest groups, and business communities may be interested in the local business data so that they can offer their members information about their particular industry. It might also be useful for tourism websites, because they can quickly point out some of the restaurants or shops in the area. While I’m sure the data itself is fine, the site and service are not without their problems.
First off, the website design comes off as quite amateur-ish. I’m all for white space, but the site just looks so boring. What’s more, navigating through the free information takes far too many clicks. When I went on a test mission, searching for shoes in Washington state, I had to go to the main page, then click on the state, then the specific city, then the business category, and then finally the specific store itself. Why didn’t I just use the search (via “What” or “Where”) function, you might ask? Because when I tried, I got this message:
It didn’t matter what I put in — city, state; zip code; keyword — it all came back with the same error message. That’s pretty frustrating. I sincerely hope that whoever purchases this data implements it better than iBegin did.
Opening Yellow Pages Data to Everyone
That’s one of the catchphrases that iBegin employs on their website. It might be useful to someone looking for that kind of thing, but they’ve got to do a better job of selling how useful this local business data could be and how valuable it could potentially be to customers. The sales pitch didn’t exactly grab me, the design looks cheap, and some parts of the site (like search) don’t even work. They’ve got some work to do.