Introducing Migoa; Interview with CEO, Gary Stewart

Only a few days ago, another search engine was born in Spain. Migoa, a newborn multilingual search engine, currently in beta phase, aims to take away the hassle of broad search results, by scouting through countless results to deliver highly relevant, specific results for job, home and car rental.

Multilingual Search is happy to be the first to welcome Migoa into the highly competitive, but extremely rewarding world of search. To introduce you to Migoa, I have interviewed Gary Stewart, Migoa’s CEO.

1. Who is behind migoa?
We are a racially diverse, international group of entrepreneurs who want to live in Barcelona but participate in international projects. We came together, because we thought that we had diverse but complementary CVs. I am an African-American from New York City. I received my undergraduate degree from Yale College, my law degree from Yale Law School and I currently own my own business in Barcelona. Oriol Blasco is a Catalan who earned his undergraduate engineering degree from the Polytechnic University of Barcelona (UPC) and his MBA from ESADE Business School. We are also currently engaged in talks with potential investors/partners who would bring in a high level of IT expertise.

2. What is the idea behind migoa? What is migoa set out to do?
The idea behind migoa is simple: the Internet is now so big that current search engines cannot fully satisfy the wants and needs of all possible users across the world. When you type in the words “comprar piso Barcelona” (buy apartment Barcelona) in major “horizontal” search engines, you get 7.6 million results, most of which are frankly irrelevant. Who has time to weed through that many results and filter through literally millions of irrelevant listings that have been optimized for top rankings? A vertical search engine allows the user to find what she wants when she wants it in a very user-friendly and highly personalized format. The major horizontal search engines are incredible at helping users find general information. We aim to supplement this with a product that ensures that users can find specific products—such as jobs, cars and homes—with as few clicks and as little hassle as possible, all while taking into account local and linguistic realities.

3. Why Spain? What is your take on the Spanish market for these types of projects and the internet arena as a whole? How does migoa fit in?
Europe is more challenging than the United States in terms of being an entrepreneur, raising capital and running an Internet company. People here are interested in tech projects, but they are more risk averse and thus not as willing to give seed capital, at least when compared to Silicon Valley or even London. Bootstrapping is obligatory. That being said, some Spanish investors are following with interest and caution what is happening in the US—the so-called, web 2.0 phenomenon. And as both computer and broadband access prices fall in Europe, the Internet is becoming an ever-present reality and people are increasingly interested in fully experiencing what the Internet can offer. migoa is a web 2.0 project, and we hope to be at the vanguard of the Spanish equivalent of the international phenomenon.

4. What does “migoa” really stand for?
At the beginning, it was a play on the initials of our initial partners. The island of Goa also had fond memories for some of our partners. However, we like to think of it as an anagram of “amigo.”

5. What type of audience will migoa cater to? Who should come to migoa.com and why?
Our audience is generally young (18-45) and tech-savvy. It is made up of people who aren’t afraid of user-friendly technological innovations and/or are experiencing some of adult life’s defining moments—building a career, buying a car and searching for a home.

6. A little bit about the technology behind the solution. How does migoa work? What are its features?
Our robot, or “bot” for short, crawls other websites to find the relevant information and compile it in a standard format. We have also reached agreements with important players in the Spanish market to send us their listings via feeds. In any case, we don’t search the entire web for information. We have pre-screened the websites on which our bots will search to include only sites that contain the desired information. The user searches for the product that she seeks—a car, a home or job—and we generate brief descriptions of actual listings (and not irrelevant references to pages on which the useful product might be found–again, that’s a key difference between a horizontal search engine and a vertical one). Like all search engines, when the user clicks on her desired listing, she is redirected to the website that originally published the information.

7. For how long do you envision the beta phase?
We have already launched a private beta to identify and correct major bugs that we might have missed in our internal testing. In late September, we will launch a public beta version and we expect to be in public beta for the short-to-mid term future. We are also developing a lot of new features that will be integrated within the 3-4 months, and each new feature will also require a lot of beta testing.

8. It looks like you are shooting for a multilingual interface. When will all versions be fully functional? How many total languages are you aiming for?
That’s right. We live in the European Union, which has countries with such rich and diverse heritages and strong linguistic traditions. We want to celebrate all of those histories and traditions, and to allow for interchange between and among countries whose citizens have increased possibilities of intra-EU mobility. We will start out with four languages—Spanish, English, French and German—but we expect that the number of languages to grow.

9. What’s in store in the future? Ambitions? Advertising model(s)?
Our goal is simple: to build a useful website that will be bookmarked and visited whenever users are searching for jobs, cars, and real estate. We want to be a reference point in the European and Latin American search markets. To that end, we will continue to add new features, learn from our mistakes and continue improving our product.

10. What does Migoa compare to, both in Spain and elsewhere? In other words, who do you envision as your immediate competition?
We prefer not to discuss our competitors, as most of them have not launched, have launched only within the past few months, or will launch very shortly. Any discussion of what they do or how they might evolve would be premature. We have had the good fortune to be in the vanguard of people launching a highly innovative product. That being said, we know that there are a lot of very smart people involved in competing projects and luck is an important factor in whether you ultimately have a successful product.

11. Tell us something we forgot to ask.
We would like to invite all tech bloggers to help us test the beta. Send me an email. gary at migoa.com or skype me: garystew.

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