Allan Isfan is a co-founder of FaveQuest, a young start-up. This blog covers start-up topics.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


seeing the world through Facebook colored glasses

As you can probably gather from previous posts, I'm very big on personalization. However, it has been challenging to get the message across to people since it is just a term and people have a hard time understanding what it actually means in the context of the web. I've used examples and analogies, and fortunately we are able to start showing people what we mean which goes a long way. I thought I would try a different angle and see what pops out.

Imagine if you could surf the entire web anonymously from within Facebook. Assuming new websites were developed with the right intelligence, they would look entirely different for every user.

Say I visit ESPN. It would know that I'm forty years old, live in Ottawa, Canada, I like hockey and skiing among other things. If I had been to the site in the past, it knew what videos and articles I liked. It could take whatever information I allow it to know and it will present me with content that I will probably like without showing me stuff that I have seen before. The more often I go back, the better the service gets.

Imagine that I go to It would present me with a list of books based on books I said I like in my Facebook Profile (Tipping Point, Blink, Wikinomics, Innovator's Dilemma ... ) as well as deals for music based on my musical tastes with some new bands thrown in that I have never heard of before.

Imagine I go to YouTube and have it present me with videos about playing the guitar, skiing, just for laughs, comedy and so on based on who I am and what I like, while also sending some surprises my way.

Better yet, what if you could also reverse the direction and have me stay still in one place (say Facebook) and have relevant web stuff dropped on my lap. If this was possible it would provide me, the user, a huge benefit because the entire web would reshape itself around me to help me find what I'm looking for while discovering new things I didn't even know existed.

All this without me having to lift a finger and in complete anonymity ... I'm just a number hiding behind a wall and yet I am unique. No more frustrating hunting and pecking. Just me and my friends and the power of the entire internet servings us. A bit utopian perhaps, but many of us are starting to develop technology and services to move the yardsticks towards the intelligent web that serves us as individuals.

If you get any of this, you get what FaveQuest is about.

We took a small step a few days ago and launched a video app in Facebook called FaveQuest that starts down this path. It creates personal video channels for you based on your Facebook profile by pulling relevant videos from all over the web including YouTube, Metacafe, AOL, iFilm and dozens of others. Not only does our software find stuff for you but we also draft your friends into the cause ... just to serve you. Aren't you special. If you like you can very easily share and start conversations with your friends around topics you care about. I have already learned so much about my business partners and we have each helped each other discover many new things already. We figured we would share this with everyone and evolve the app with your assistance.

If you feel like trying it out, click on the link below. Please share your feedback and we'll do our best to make it better (BTW, we are working hard to speed it up .... takes a while to filter out the crap just for you, and to make the interface simpler .... stay tuned).

Allan Isfan
Co-founder, CEO

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Sunday, December 09, 2007


The three Ps I care about Passion, Permission, Personalization,

When starting a business, you need to define the things that are going to make up the fabric of your company. The shorter the list, the better. The list a bit longer than these, but to keep things simple here are my three Ps for FaveQuest: Passion, Permission, Personalization.


Passion has always been the main driver behind anything I do and I look for that everywhere. I look for passion in myself, my team and our customers. People on my team have been spending countless months with no pay and it wears thin after a while. There is just no way to go on without passion when you are working this hard and sacrificing so much.

The products that we are building, naturally, are also about passion. It doesn't matter if your passion is knitting, mustangs, traveling, music, collecting mustard, butterflies, aliens, horror movies or anything else. Whatever the passion, people seem to become irrational when it comes to their passions. This is a good thing and we encourage it. People are also sometimes compelled to tell the world because their passions define who they are. This is also a good things and we encourage it. This is the energy that FaveQuest is tapping and it is a tough, but golden vein to find.


Maybe I've been drinking too much Seth Godin kool-aid but I think permission is critical. One of our missions is to find stuff you will like (we like to call them faves ... very original). We could guess based on stuff you do while surfing normally but we find that creepy. It isn't for everyone but we prefer to ask you what you want and give you the chance to provide us feedback so we do better. It requires a tiny bit of effort but we think this is good for everyone. Some people won't want to bother ... and they won't be our customer. I told Pandora I like Pink Floyd and U2 and it rewarded me with great music. It was worth it.


This is where the world is going. Permit me to share an nice analogy one of my partners came up with. Imagine that you walk in to your local video store and the clerk asks you: you're a good customer and we would like to provide you with personal VIP service by assembling a video rack just for you every week. It would save you time and we could also bring in some rare movies you might like. You say yes (duh), let them know what movies you have enjoyed in the past, and next week you walk in to find a rack with the name "Allan's Videos". Some obvious titles that you definitely like but also a few surprises. You're in and out in 2 minutes and now you're walking out with two movies instead of one. When you return the movies, you tell the clerk what you thought of the movies. You are happy and the video store makes more money so they are happy. You never go anywhere else to get videos, you tell your friends and the video store is now renting more movies to more people.

Imagine now that instead of a video store, we are talking about a website with media and your company makes money by having people come to your site and consume (duh ... that's nearly everyone ... a good thing). Personalization, done properly, has been proven to easily pay for itself.

You tap an irrational passion, get permission and fan the flames.

These are the three Ps we care about: Passion, Permission, Personalization

More on personalization and other subjects very soon.

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