Web-based e-mail has gained popularity with people who don’t want to be tied to a single computer or need to haul a laptop around. Its popularity has prompted a new Net start-up, the Daily Drill to offer another necessary PC function on a Web-based platform, allowing mobile PC users to track their schedules online with minimum fuss and maximum flexibility.
Users log on to access a daily calendar that resembles a standard personal information manager. There is room for memos, to-do lists, reminders and recurrences. The password protected data resides on the Daily Drill server. The service is free, but registration is required; during which consumers supply personal data such as location and interests in 26 different categories. This is where the company bases its profitability potential. By profiling users in this way they are better able to target and deliver the audience to advertisers. So if a company wants to target reggae fans in Eugene, Ore. this is the way to go.
“This ability allows us to charge a higher rate per-thousand page views.” “It’s very hard to sell advertising to a specific user,” he said. “So, in this respect, we do not have a direct competitor,” said company President Ed Neumann.
The Arlington, Va.-based company, a division of the privately held NetCalendar Inc, manages with just nine employees. Launched in February, it began with $1,650,000 from private investors. An additional $1,000,000 from New Horizons Venture Capital LLC followed in July. It is currently raising its third round of venture capital.
“Asking for money is a humbling experience,” Neumann said. “You can have the greatest product and the most different idea, and you end up giving the same ‘elevator speech’ several times a day. You just have to hope the investors don’t find any cracks in the hull. If they do, you just fix them and move on.”
Some of these “cracks” don’t have anything to do with the product itself. During one point in the funds search the company was t-h-i-s close to getting a certain fund’s support when one of their business partners caught wind of the deal and offered up their own calendaring application. Predictably, Neumann feels worse about losing the money than losing the partner — even in a business when partnership is the key.
“Like any personalized utility, it adds value to an existing portal,” said Aram Sinnreich, an analyst with Jupiter Communications in New York. “On its own, it has limited appeal. It doesn’t necessarily have to be part of a top tier portal, but will fit well on any ‘affinity’ portal that services a vertical market.” But he likes the Drill’s advertising process, saying, “The more you know your customer, the better you can deliver a targeted marketing message.”
Today, Neumann anticipates competition from the 800-pound gorilla down the street.
“We hear that AOL is going to offer a calendaring option,” he said. “So we need to outthink them, and offer features they cannot, such as the ability to download calendar files to palmtops. We always need to be pushing the envelope ahead of the competition.”
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