Interview with Matt Bateman – COO/CFO of Fuel Empire, LLC
TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?
FuelEmpire: FuelEmpire, LLC was founded by three “car nuts” – who happen to understand the constantly evolving online world- to develop online tools for automotive enthusiasts to build, share, and promote their passions. Our flagship site, FuelEmpire.com serves as a place for users to share photos, vehicle stats, and other data about their cars to other enthusiasts. Additionally, we offer customizable website addresses (URL’s) to help every car owner personally promote his or her ride. FuelEmpire is developing a suite of tools for our users that are simple to use and to the point.
TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?
FuelEmpire: Too much of a good thing can, in actuality, be a very bad thing. FuelEmpire focuses on creating free, easy-to-use tools for everyone. All of our sites feature simple, clean layouts and intuitive interfaces. It’s our belief that the user is at our site to accomplish something, and as such the user experience is at center stage in all of our application development.
TechAddress: What are some of the main features?
FuelEmpire: Some of our recent features have quickly become our most popular. Profile shortcuts are a big hit with users. A user can create a profile on FuelEmpire.com to show off their vehicle, and they can assign it a custom URL. There are several to choose from. For example, you can see one of our founder’s vehicles at http://xeno.istoofast.com. The shortcut URLs provide an easy method for people to promote their vehicles. We expect our competitors will be looking to imitate this feature shortly.
Another popular new feature is the Favorites feature. As simple as it is, users can select vehicles that appeal to them and attach them to their own profile by marking it as a favorite. This builds community and has become quite popular.
TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?
FuelEmpire: Car enthusiasts! And not just those sitting behind a computer screen; we’ve made sure that our tools are easy enough for anyone to set up their own FuelEmpire profile in a matter of minutes.
TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?
FuelEmpire: We’re really excited about our next-generation universal automotive classifieds site, ListOBO. Users will be able to combine the ease of community posting forums with the success of auction sites to buy and sell their automotive parts and items. The site will integrate with other sites in the FuelEmpire Network to link what people want to what people have.
TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?
FuelEmpire: We plan on making FuelEmpire a literal ’empire’ of users and websites. Eventually, all of our tools will be integrated and become a universal one-stop shop for automotive enthusiasts. We believe strongly in the FuelEmpire brand name, and plan to create an entire lifestyle around our ideas.
TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?
FuelEmpire: None in specific. I would like to point out, however, that technology is easy to abuse. It would be very easy for a company to overpopulate the feature list now days. Application development on the web has come a long way and it’s easier than ever to overcook. We’re giving our best efforts in providing all the right features to guide that missile in with precision.
TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?
FuelEmpire: On every product we build, we ask ourselves, “Is this something we want to use?” If we aren’t passionate about using one of our sites, we can’t expect anyone else to be either.
TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?
FuelEmpire: Our goal is to make simple and focused tools for the end user. We strive to build products that people want to use, and then offer it for less than they would expect to pay for it. In our current stage, that often means a huge value to users, as all of our products are free to use! Our upcoming product ListOBO.com will change the way people think about buying, selling, and trading online.
TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?
FuelEmpire: We’re developing new features every day, but as a small company, we’ve managed to keep costs down. Currently, FuelEmpire LLC is self funded and “in the black” (pays for itself) for day to day operations. Our sites grow every day from purely word-of-mouth advertising.
TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date?
FuelEmpire: The latest version of FuelEmpire.com officially launched in September, 2006. We are working on new products and features every day, and our various tools are in various stages of release.
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