Interview with Mark Ranalli is the CEO and President of Helium
TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?
Helium: Helium is an information resource, written by its users, for the benefit of its users. Our critical value proposition is our ability to provide multiple points of view on any particular subject covered by our community of writers, and provide clarity as to which articles are considered the best. Helium offers a fair and trusted platform for members to share their knowledge and be recognized and rewarded based purely on the value of their knowledge.
TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?
Helium: Helium is unique from all other information sites. We differ from traditional publishers though our ability to provide our information seekers multiple points of view, and confidence in the quality of the articles provided based on a market driven, peer review process. We differ from user generated content sites in our ability to provide order to the chaos of the millions of voices on the web. From a writer’s perspective, we offer a fair and trusted platform for recognition and monetary reward.
TechAddress: What are some of the main features?
Helium: A critical feature of Helium is our patented (pending) relative ranking process. It is through this process that Helium is able to aggregate the wisdom of its users to provide a ranked order of insights on each of its subjects covered. The unique value derived from this ranking process is a ranked list of articles – where an information seeker has access to multiple points of view, and unique insights from a variety of people from around the world on any particular subject matter – without having to sort through the hundreds of articles that may not be worth reading.
TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?
Helium: One of Helium’s unique characteristics is its broad appeal to most all Internet users. Helium makes it easy for anyone to share what they know, on virtually any subject. Additionally, as an information resource, it’s a free and valuable resource to anyone seeking information. As a platform for contributors, we believe Helium is an ideal venue for today’s bloggers and for the blogger to be. Helium offers a better platform for recognition and reward than the typical blog. Helium offers an audience of millions, and the ability for a writer to contribute periodically, without the need to market their own blog. Additionally, we believe that Helium is an ideal venue for stay at home parents, retirees and college students.
TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?
Helium: Helium Launched on October 10th, and we’re actively working on a number of new features. As with any 1.0 release, a number of features ended up getting cut from the initial release. We are working on a four week development cycle, so you can expect to see new features and functionality released each month. At this point, we have the next six months of releases well spec’d out. Some of the features we expect to release in the near future include User Levels and recognition for our most active members. One of the objectives of Helium is to enable our community to help manage the site. Many of the new features we will release over the next several months will continue to support this objective.
TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?
Helium: We believe Helium will become a top 20 site on the Internet. We compare ourselves to both About.com and Wikipedia. Both of these sites have achieved a top 20 status. About.com achieved its success through a more traditional approach of hired writers. Wikipedia has achieved its success through the wiki model. Helium is rapidly developing a loyal community of writers who are adding to Helium’s Quality, Depth and Breadth of content on a daily basis. In short order, we expect Helium to become a well recognized and respected resource for information.
TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?
Helium: Since our launch three weeks ago, the only negative feedback we’ve received has been focused on the lack of depth and quality of our content. This is to be expected. To date, Heliumm has attracted 100,000 articles. Over the next few months, Helium expects to attract many more articles. As Helium attracts more members and more content, our content will continue to improve in quality and the number of subjects covered will continue to expand.
TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?
Helium: Helium’s principals are based on a healthy mix of Ann Rand and Adam Smith. Helium leverages market forces (Adam Smith) to create a fair and trusted community that shows respect for each member’s efforts and knowledge (Ann Rand). Helium is the only site that integrates the combined forces of the Advertisers, the Audience and Peers to establish a fair marketplace that values each members work.
TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?
Helium: Helium’s mission is to build the world’s most valuable knowledge resource by bringing information seekers and providers together in a trusted relationship.
One of the key innovative aspects of Helium is its Fair, Trust and Democratic rating system. Helium enables people from around the world to share their insights on numerous subjects and then fairly sorts each writer’s articles based on their value.
TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?
Helium: Helium is well funded. We raised a meaningful Series A round of financing in Q1 and are in the final stages of closing a Series B that should be more than enough to fund us through profitability.
TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date?
Helium: Helium launched on October 10th, 2006. We welcome you to come visit the site, and begin to share your knowledge!
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