When it launched in mid-June, InfoArmy made two bold moves toward its goal to hit 100,000 competitive intelligence reports on leading companies: It’s available only on iPad and its data comes from crowdsourcing. This week InfoArmy hits 1,000 reports, some of which are free via its iPad app including Yammer, Glassdoor, ZOHO, Evernote, and Trilliant.
InfoArmy founder Jim Fowler thinks he’s found a more efficient route to competitive intelligence than the established Dun & Bradstreet, which maintains a database on 200 million companies. His “army” of global researchers — everyone from MBAs turned stay-at-home moms to college students in India — work in teams to gather data on companies, update it quarterly, and split a 50/50 profit with InfoArmy, each time a $99 report sells. The company is starting with private, “sexy” tech companies and plans to eventually provide reports on public companies.
A Web-based version of InfoArmy is coming out soon, but Fowler says InfoArmy was created with a tablet experience in mind. The highly visual reports make for dynamic data, showing a company and its competitors’ venture funding, revenue, number of employees and more side-by-side. The quarterly updates also allow for quick comparisons on a company’s own growth and strategy.
“Information on paper is as dead as the paper it’s printed on,” says Fowler. “A tablet is a living, breathing thing.”
Fowler built a career on taking risks, launching enterprise address book Jigsaw before anyone understood the term “crowdsourcing.” Jigsaw controversially incentivized users to share business contact information, competing with established, static contact databases from Hoovers (a subsidiary of Dun & Bradstreet). Fowler sold Jigsaw to Salesforce for $175 million in 2010.
InfoArmy has been operating from $1 million of Fowler’s money plus another $1 million from his stepfather who invested as an angel in Jigsaw. Fowler says he wants to further expand globally and fast, and plans to raise a series A before the end of the year to do so.
Crowdsourcing financial and business data has its skeptics, but people are paying attention. The Wall Street “whisper” community on Estimize has often crowdsourced market predictions better than analysts and experts.