Thursday, February 18, 2010
Interview with Dave Compton, NetPlenish.com
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
We recently ran into Dave Compton, Chairman and CEO of Ventura-based NetPlenish.com (www.netplenish.com), a early stage startup working on a service which will automatically re-order items for consumers. Dave gave us an overview of the service and what it hopes to do.
What is NetPlenish?
Dave Compton: NetPlenish is the first price replenishment search engine. There are lots of search engines out there for travel, for buying a computer, but what we focus on is what we call predictable consumer depletions, or PCDs. These are things like dog food, contact lenses, diapers, baby formula--things you can predict when they will run out. For example, my dog eats two cans of dog food a day, if there are ten cans in the pantry, that means five days and he's out. That's what we focus on. How NetPlenish is different from any other website for pricing, is let's say that with the dog food- Alpo dog food--it will pull up who is lowest. It might say CVS is number one, Walgreen.com is number two. Once you go in and make the purchase from us, then you set up your NetPlenishment on that product. It asks--when are you going to run out? You put in the dates you are going to run out. 72 hours before your run-dry date, the system automatically goes in and does another search. So now, maybe Walgreens.com has the lowest price, and it sends you an email alert telling you that it's 72 hours before we ship, Walgreens.com is the lowest--and do you want to slow down, speed up, or suspend. That's the worse thing about auto-replenishment--people get stuck having too much. You want total control. Maybe your dog didn't eat enough this time, slow it down by three days. So when you slow it down, we wait another three days, and we do another search.
So does this work for any consumer product?
Dave Compton: Any consumable product.
So you're not relying on other sites which have auto-replenishment features?
Dave Compton: Right. The other difference is all the other pricing search engines ship you off to somewhere else--they might do the ranking, but you have to do the purchase on CVS or wherever. You purchase it all internally at NetPlenish. What makes us unique is we've filed a lot of IP on these timed, repetitive searches, and I think that's what is going to give us a unique value proposition.
Are you funded yet?
Dave Compton: We're just getting started, and are just doing our first round. My co-founder and myself--Ethan has been the CEO of a dot com for the last few years, Myself I was CEO of a venture backed biotech company, and prior to that I was executive vice president for a well known dot com. We're in the midst of a $700,000 seed round, and we're up in the Ventura Technology Center.
Are you running now, or when will your service be available?
Dave Compton: I would say we'll go beta sometime mid-year. We're filing a lot of IP, and this repetitive search thing is big for us. We've got a few other tricks up our sleeve we can't talk about because the patents are being filed, but what we can say is that we're focusing on this predictable, consumer depletion market, it's a $50 billion dollar market, with only a 5 percent penetration. When you're talking about the last final frontier. You can look at Amazon and its penetration into books and CDs, travel has been penetrated. Computers and electronics now are almost at a parity between offline and online sales. Consumables like we're talking about are at just five percent. For us, this is the last e-commerce frontier, which we want to capitalize on.
What's the business model behind the site?
Dave Compton: The business model is we get paid on every single sale, through affiliate commissions. The idea is that people have known there is a huge consumables market out there. There have been lots of failures, Webvan and whatever, but that was because of the large infrastructure. We don't have that infrastructure, We're vendor agnostic. We're going to send you to Walgreens.com one month, and CVS the next.