FixYa CEO Yaniv Ben-Saadan: He found hundreds of web sites recommending which consumer product you buy, but nothing that helped him trouble-shoot the product afterwards.When your iPod has a bug, who do you call? Apple? Chances are that even if you do, you won’t get the answer you’re looking for, but will have to ask around until you finally find a friend who can explain how to fix it.
Now new Israeli start up FixYa has the answer. In fact, dozens of answers. The company has developed an online service that gathers all product support information scattered through the Internet in a single user-friendly location. More importantly, however, the site is also a huge Q and A knowledge base that is constantly updated by a live community of experts and consumers who share their experience of technical problems and solutions.
If you’ve got a problem with an electronic device, from a printer to a digital camera, just find your product at the site’s database, click “Post a new problem”, and explain your dilemma. Within a few hours, site users will respond with their solutions. A rating system allows readers to identify which answers are the best, enabling the site to build up a large library of working solutions to every possible problem.
“It’s an online technical support community,” Yaniv Bar-Lev, FixYa’s VP of user acquisition, tells ISRAEL21c. “Consumers and experts meet on site to solve all the technical problems they experience with their gadgets. The best thing about it, is that it’s based on real users’ experiences, rather than projected FAQ’s by the manufacturer. It’s unique content.”
Aside from this support, the site has an added pay feature, introduced a few months ago, enabling users to get live online assistance from experts they have come to trust. A chat system is built into the website allowing you to communicate online. Anyone not satisfied with the advice gets their money back.
FixYa was founded in 2005 by 37-year-old Yaniv Ben-Saadan, the company’s CEO. Ben-Saadan, who previously worked for Internet company Hotbar, came up with the idea out of frustration. He found hundreds of web sites recommending which consumer product you buy, and where to buy it from, but no web sites that helped him trouble-shoot the product afterwards.
“No one wants to deal with technical support,” says Bar-Lev. “Not even the companies themselves. For manufacturers, support is a cost and they want to reduce costs as much as possible. In the meantime, though, the products are getting more and more technologically advanced and people need help understanding them.”
Seed funding of a few hundred thousand dollars came from a group of private investors, led by Internet guru Yossi Vardi. In February this year, two VC companies, Israel’s Pitango Venture Capital, and US company, Mayfield Fund, invested a further $4 million, according to sources. FixYa, which is based in Tel Aviv and San Mateo in California, now employs 20.
Today the site, which is still at beta stage, supports about one million products and has three million unique visitors a month, a figure the company expects to grow to four million by the end of this year. The service is currently only in English, but there are plans to move into other languages.
“We are seeing very rapid growth,” says Bar-Lev. “The more content we gain the more people use it. It looks like it’s going to be a very big site.”
The company plans to make money through targeted advertising and through the paid premium expert service. There are also plans to syndicate content, and to provide outsourced technical support for large consumer electronic companies.
“What we are trying to do is give the best technical support out there,” says Bar-Lev. “It’s not companies that offer the best support, but the customers themselves. They are the people who are most passionate about the problems because they are the ones dealing with them.”