Five Questions For Alex de Bold, ChickAdvisor.com

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ChickAdvisor is about helping you make better purchasing decisions on everything from electronics to electrolysis. The Chicks determine the hottest trends, the best local services, and the coolest products, and we deliver the location and purchase information to make getting what you want and need easier, faster, and more affordable.

Co-Founder Ali de Bold is a third-generation entrepreneur with a life-long passion for media since her appearance on Global TV’s KidsNews at age 11. She is a former property and casualty claims adjuster who escaped the world of insurance shortly after meeting Alex, who convinced her to quit her job and go back to school. In 2004, she began Ryerson’s Radio & Television Arts program, and is currently doing very well in her 3rd year.

Co-Founder Alex de Bold is a serial entrepreneur who, like Ali, launched his first company, ProfessorJones, while in his 3rd year of University. In 1996, Alex launched Canada’s most successful online student portal and magazine, ProfessorJones.com . He continued building online communities and CRM strategy for companies such as Labatt Breweries North America, Centrica, and Butterfield & Robinson. He has also worked as an advisor for other startups such as RedFlagDeals, Bubbleshare and AmbientVector. It was meant to be: Ali also worked as the regional manager for a field marketing company which promoted ProfessorJones on Campus at the University of Manitoba several years ago, but didn’t know her future husband, Alex was the founder.

One Degree: What is Chick Advisor?

ChickAdvisor is a social network for women to share advice and recommendations on a range of products and services for women. ChickAdvisor was launched after Ali and I got married. Ali’s and I aren’t native to Toronto so we were always talking to our friends looking for recommendations. I had no idea how frustrating or expensive it could be for her to find the right facial cleanser or a salon that she really liked. Our bathroom is a testament to that fact. We took around (online that is) and we came up with the idea of creating a website where other women who shared Ali’s frustration could come together and share advice.

One Degree: Are you targeting the Canadian marketing, or are you shooting for a broader audience?

Both. We realized that magazines like Cosmo, Elle or Fashion can be found in salons in most major cities and they’re largely driven by products with very little local information. We did some informal focus groups with friends and they liked the idea of getting product advice but also wanted local information. We serve women across North America and drill down in specific cities like Craigslist or DailyCandy/SweetSpot. Toronto is our first city as part of our launch.

One Degree: How have you generated traffic to the site so far?

Starting a new site from ground zero can be tough. It’s always tough launching a new site. We’re focused on trying to partner with other websites, bloggers, and word-of-mouth, newsletters, and using good ol’ google ad-words. Our biggest surprise has been our organic website traffic. We’re getting lots of referrals from search engines and they seem to be growing which is great. We’re all ears from new and exciting ways to partner to do fun grass roots marketing.

One Degree: You’re an ad-supported site. I’m wondering if you have any interesting twists on ad models you are or may be offering advertisers in the future.

It’s early days for us at ChickAdvisor. We’re accepting some advertising and exploring certain affiliate programs to drive revenue. It’s really all about the platform and community. We will probably partner with a third party to sell our advertising on our behalf so that we can focus on the community. There is one cool widget we’re about to release. We’re about to upgrade our site to support video based reviews. We think it will give the advertisers richer advertising opportunities and conversely allow our members to express themselves more fully.

One Degree: Your site depends on user-generated content and community. But getting the original “umph” to get the user-generated content ball rolling can be tough. How do you plan to get the momentum you need to take the site to the next level?

We’re doing a lot of listening to our current members to see what they have to say about the site. We’ll keeping what works and toss anything that doesn’t is key. We have to make sure that there’s enough substance to the website that there is something to talk about. We’re pretty excited that we’re almost at a 1,000 reviews in the past 45 days. Ali’s about to launch some video based interviews with people so we can bring more of the site to life and we’re exploring some key partnerships that will help make the site more compelling. Video reviews is one of those examples.

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