Rabbi’s Startup: Make A Few Bucks Just By Surfing The Web
Thirty-six-year old Tiffany Ivanovsky found a creative way to earn money. Between taking care of her seven children and being a school principle in Texas, US, Tiffany blogs about the best shopping deals, to her 300,000 readers.
While she doesn’t do it for the money, Ivanovsky says she is able to make a few bucks, or Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a loyalty program where you can earn free stuff by browsing in the Swagbucks search engine, instead of your usual search engine. Swagbucks is a little like earning frequent flyer miles, only for navigating the web.
Every time Ivanovsky searches for something online using the Swagbucks toolbar installed in her browser, watches videos, or even when one of her children play online games via the Swagbucks engine – virtual money is automatically charged to an account she can use in online retail stores, such as Amazon. Just last year Ivanovsky saved an amount of Swagbucks that is equivalent to $800.
Swagbucks offers sales and discounts by distributing virtual money, which can be used to purchase goods from companies that advertise in the Swagbucks webpage. The company says their primary audience is middle-aged mothers, who according to a market research are responsible for 75 percent of all household expenses.
The site already collaborates with over fifty brands including retail stores Wall-Mart, Target and clothing giant Gap.
Josef Gorowitz, a rabbi, founded Swagbucks in 2008 along with five other partners (who are also all former Talmudic students.) The toolbar Swagbucks offers is based on an Israeli platform developed by Conduit, which profits indirectly each time a Swagbucks user performs an online search through its toolbar.
Gorowitz says his company has so far made a $12.5 million in revenues from its 2.6 million registered users. Gorowitz claims that Swagbucks, which employs a team of 45, is already profitable and is expected to double its revenue over the following year.
But the competition in the discount coupon market is challenging. The market’s leading company, Groupon, has recently raised $700 million from its initial public offering. Moreover, over the past three years hundreds of small companies that offer daily discounts and compete after surfers’ hearts and pockets have been created.
Swagbucks’ secret weapon is the range of options to earn virtual cash. “It doesn’t become a waste of time – it becomes an investment – which is a major difference,” says Ben Smithee, CEO of Spych Market Analytics.
Photo by Don Hankins