Thursday, January 8, 2009

Solvate - Friend of a Friend

I got a nice email from a good friend this morning. He forwarded along one of his friend's companies. A startup. Since he thought it was a perfect fit for my needs. The company is named Solvate. And here's what they're all about:

"Solvate is a service that solves irritating and time-consuming problems for you. We deal with labyrinth phone trees, customer service agents, exceptions to the rule and anything else that stands between you and a solution to your problem."

What couldn't be better? Someone else dealing with BS from a no good company (something I'm far too familiar with)? Now, he also hit on an important point in his email. He said I may be masochistic, and enjoy venting with CS reps. As I thought about it, he may actually be right. When I get screwed over by a company, I'm not sure how I'd feel about someone else taking care of it? While it frustrates me to no end, I like to let 'em have it. And part of that process alleviates some of my frustration. Unless, of course, I get considerably more frustrated by their inadequate and unhelpful customer service.

They remind me a bit of another startup here in the Bay. JustAnswer. While they aren't an intermediary for your problems, they do help you solve them by connecting you to a network of professionals who are rated based on their topical knowledge. For example, they'll have auto mechanics who can answer your questions concerning a noise you're hearing in your car. I used them to help me figure out what to do with my two year old DLP television that's now a $1400 paperweight. While they confirmed that it is, indeed a new paperweight, at least it was an educated answer that cost $8 instead of the $250 that Samsung wanted to come out and look at it.

I think these companies are interesting. With a big caveat. Scalability will become an issue. Justanswer is profitable already, at last check. But to grow, I advised them to approach companies like Ford, and offer to outsource their customer service. They told me that large companies like that typically decline, because they have their own network of support. Dealerships. And why would they want to undermine their overpriced dealerships and let customers solve their problems much more easily? Yea, no idea.

I'll be giving Solvate a try though with my next problem. How could I not at least try?

No comments: