Today is an interview I did with Ahmed Farooq from iBegin.com. I had heard of the site and took a quite peak around but when I hooked up with Ahmed via Facebook I asked him if could enlighten me.

Q. iBegin- can you tell us what it is?
A. Hard to pigeonhole iBegin. In a nutshell – “we do local“. I personally believe that local is more than just local search – it is about anything that is relevant on a local level. That’s why we have not only local search, but also weather, geocoding, and business data (iBegin Source). With more coming soon of course.

Q. How can ibegin help a small business in Augusta GA?
A. iBegin Source is our entry into the business data market (think Acxiom or InfoUSA). We have had thousands of users download the data, and have quite a few customers using it on commercial websites. As an SMB, you want to make sure you appear everywhere you can online. By making sure your listing is accurate and upto date on iBegin, you make sure it is accurate and upto date on a whole lot more sites (with all their associated traffic). This is true for any business anywhere in the US.

Q. How does a business know if it is already listed?
A. Just search on http://source.ibegin.com/ for your business and your address/ZIP. Pretty easy.

Q. Where do you get your data from?
A. A variety of sources. We buy broad (full US) data from the state government, federal government, credit companies, and other business-oriented companies (think any company that provides B2B services). We also buy niche data – be it a vertical (eg Mexican Restaurants) or a niche local (eg Pasadena). We do *not* spider any data
from the web.

Q. What does the future hold for iBegin?
A. iBegin Source is just getting started. The amount of noise we are making has steadily increased since we launched – more and more local-oriented businesses are using us as their backbone (skipping over the much-more expensive traditional data providers). I mentioned earlier that we had more coming soon – I don’t want to tip our hat, but relationships (in any context) is something we find extremely interesting and will be expanding on soon.

Q. Will you be making more cities available such as augusta.ibegin.com?
A. We took a break from city sites (eg Toronto and Ottawa) so we could build a robust framework for the underlying data (iBegin Source and iBegin Geocoder). Once the beforementioned ‘relationship’ systems are complete, we will likely begin to move into other cities too.

I just wanted to take a second to note that right now (more or less)  things are relatively separate. Basically our areas are:

Business Data – iBegin Source
City Sites – Toronto, Ottawa, etc
Weather
Geocoder

While all of them are interconnected (eg iBegin Source and City sites use Geocoder, and so forth), the integration will increase a lot more in the future. We have a few other areas to launch, and over time everything will integrate more tightly.

Thanks Ahmed for your time and insight. I definitely will be using iBegin more. Finally, just wanted to let you know that one thing I liked about the website was their philosophy, The 8 Rules of iBegin.
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