Nowadays, a lot of start-up pitches start with: “We are the Google of “fill in…”. Zeef.com did not, Zeef.com is saying they will do/are doing (a bit) the same as Google, only better. That sounds not realistic, but is it though?
Zeef.com is competing with algorithms by using us, using our knowledge. The core-thought of Zeef.com is, that people are able to come up with better suggestions than Google’s algorithm does, everyone for a specific topic/subject within his or her knowledge domain. So, they, the founders of Zeef.com, asked themselves: why aren’t people with specific knowledge of topics doing the searching and filtering (Zeef = sieve) for us with regard to web-search: “It is time for human knowledge to advance where algorithms have reached their limitations.” (Klaas Joosten – founder, 2015)
How it works? Everyone can set up a page about a specific topic. Within this topic page you can create different lists for subtopics; for example a HTML list (subtopic) within the topic web-development (example). Within this list you are able to rank different web pages based on content of HTML. Finally, if someone is searching for programming information on Zeef.com, it proposes a specific page about programming based on views, rating, etc. all in order to let him/her find the information.
So, why do they think someone will create a page? Zeef.com integrates affiliate marketing within the pages; you can earn money by creating pages without using banners and other adds. If someone will buy something or clicks on specific content redirected by your Zeef page, both you and zeef.com will get a fee (if the specific webshop is using affiliate marketing).
In first instance it sounds a bit like startpagina.nl to me, doesn’t it? The concept is the same, definitely. However, within startpagina.nl you cannot compete within topics. This competition needs to increase the quality of the pages. Besides, you can embed a Zeef-list into your own (blog) website, totally adjusted to your design (example). Zeef.com wants to concur with google Adsense in this way (frido van Driem – co-founder, 2015).
We are better than google Adsense (Rick Boerebach – co-founder, 2015)
Does it have a chance to survive? They attracted over 8000 curators/list makers within one year, besides they raised an investment of 1,2 million euro, end of 2014 in order to “take over” the US market. On top of that the adjusted lists are a lot more inviting than AdSense banners, resulting in a 15x higher click-through rate (CTR) than those AdSense banners. However, there is a huge critical mass within this market, you definitely need to collect a lot of curators in order to be the standard for someone within web searching. Besides, there is a chance that people only create pages that results in earning money for themselves, instead of sharing the “right” content of their topic (Abuse their knowledge).
All in all, I like the idea and the opportunism of Zeef.com. I often think myself, wouldn’t it be great if someone who knows everything within this subject could help me out. However, maybe I am skeptical because I really like start-ups that want to beat the big boys by focusing on quality… Do you think I am?
Van Driem, F. Co-founder Zeef (2015), Zeef – Waar hebben wij het over?, In: http://articulum.nl/algemeen/zeef-waar-hebben-wij-het/, By: Van Breda, N.
Boerebach, R. Co-founder Zeef (2015), “Zeef”, in: https://fastmovingtargets.nl/episodes/rick-boerebach-zeef-wij-zijn-beter-dan-google-adsense/, By: Blom & Stekelenburg
Joosten, K. Founder Zeef (2015) “Zeef: About”, in: https://zeef.com/about