If you’ve ever attempted to acquire contact information or background data about a specific company or small business for sales prospecting and were unable to do so, there’s finally some good news for you. Darian Shirazi, Founder of Radius Intelligence, joins Brent Leary to share his solution and break down those obstacles.
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Small Business Trends: Can you give us a little bit of your background first?
Darian Shirazi: I have been in the internet business for quite some time. I have worked with eBay, Facebook and a bunch of different startups. My interests are really around big data and technology solutions.
Small Business Trends: How difficult is it to get good quality information on small businesses?
Darian Shirazi: The challenges that a lot of companies have had in the past is that they don’t really understand or are not able to predict how difficult it is to acquire data about small businesses. You really notice that of the data sources out there, the ones about small businesses are not really complete, and they don’t have a lot of useful data. They don’t have a lot of social data or data on how well the business is doing, who the owner is, who works there and basically the presences across various sites like Yelp, CitySearch, OpenTable, etc.
To get this data you really have to build technology that can do something called named resolutions. What that means is you can basically identify business names in text. So if a news article gets written about a specific business, the technology is able to identify when the news article mentions the business name. Same goes for views, tweets, social data or any piece of content. The program automatically identifies business names in free form text.
This is something that we spent a couple of years on. It is really tough to do well and is something that most companies spend most of their time researching. The only companies that really do it well are Google, a few small startups and us.
Small Business Trends: So just how much information do you have on small businesses?
Darian Shirazi: We track 15 million small business in the United States in real time and we have more than half a billion pieces of data right now. We are adding about 10 to 30 million of pieces of data per month, depending on the month and the amount of new data we can find. The data types are social data, government data, people data, business listing metadata, daily deals, news articles and reviews. We have hundreds of thousands of sources that we track on real time. We do our best to make sure that everything is always fresh.
Small Business Trends: You also stated you have a lot of localized information?
Darian Shirazi: We have targeted a lot of really interesting local data sources and the reason why is because businesses get mentioned in articles that are on local blogs. Whether someone really likes a specific dog grooming company or dog grooming business. Or does not like the specific dog grooming business that might be written in the local blog more so than any other sources.
Small Business Trends: You mentioned in a previous conversation there are around 10 millions sales people that are actively trying to do business with very small businesses? What is the biggest challenge you hear from them?
Darian Shirazi: The biggest challenge is really just prioritizing leads and knowing which leads to go after. They are trying to get more intelligent about certain things but, all in all, they are having trouble prioritizing leads for local sales forces. In our situation, we really are trying to help these local sales forces identify, understand and prioritize small business leads.
Small Business Trends: So how do those kinds of people use your services? How easy is it for them to find and then follow that information?
Darian Shirazi: It is very easy. You literally go into Salesforce.com and find our ad and immediately start generating new leads off of our service. You can prioritize leads and import data directly into Salesforce, which is particularly useful. Being able to import data is a big deal and you can use it inside of other CRM applications.
For sales people who don’t use CRM, which there are a lot of small business sellers that don’t use the typical “bells and whistles” in systems like Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics, they can use the product as a standalone. They can go to Radius.com and get an account.
Small Business Trends: You are able to get contact level information on these folks that work at small businesses?
Darian Shirazi: For some businesses, yes. We are working on getting it for every business. The government data that we have acquired has all of the owner names, mailing addresses and those kinds of things that we have for a good number of businesses. We have phone numbers and other contact info for most of the other businesses. Actually, phone numbers for every business. But other contact information depends on the business itself.
Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about your service?
Brent shares a few of his impressions of Radius’ offering on his blog as well.
This interview is part of our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click the right arrow on the gray player below. You can also see more interviews in our interview series.