Sramana Mitra: What would the platform do? What was the idea?
Robin Smith: The idea behind it was really crowdsourcing. This was even before Uber. Even Dave Berkus calls us as the Uber of inspections. I had this idea to create a platform that would connect agents out in the field. I tried to think of who would be out there in the field, ready to go. I created the website, built the platform, recruited my lookers in the first year, and came out of beta at the end of 2010. Initially, my goal with the platform was to have customers place their order online.
If you wanted to look at a pinball machine on eBay that is in Kentucky and you’re in California, you can simply place a WeGoLook order and my looker in Kentucky would go out to that pinball machine, take pictures, record working demonstrations, and we would push it back to you in the form of an electronic report so that you would have current photos and all of the information to make a confident decision. That was what the platform was originally built for.
Something really cool happened. When hurricane Sandy hit, we started getting some organic requests for small companies and even some mid-sized companies who wanted us to capture data on a nationwide level and asked us to customize our report template. If it was something like auto inspection, we just need these questions answered. I created the platform to be a little bit more dynamic to customize the report template that the customer would receive. We would have these B2B customers start using our service.
A company called Cushman & Wakefield started to use our report template and wanted properties. JP Morgan was one of their clients. When hurricane Sandy hit, they asked us to get in there and look at some of the damaged properties. Luckily, a couple of my lookers were able to go into these properties past the barricades and take pictures. JP Morgan Chase had their reports back to them within just a few business days. That’s how we grew.
Then I felt that all of these B2B companies needed us. They need this national footprint. They need the ability to be able to quickly get this data back to them in the form of a report. That was the basis of everything that we did and turned that into a mobile tech platform now. We just patch everything via a mobile device to our lookers from our back-end. All of our lookers receive the information on their mobile device, similar to Uber. We started getting a lot of business by just organical growing.
One of the nation’s largest insurance companies said, “Can we use your lookers?” Now, we have over 20,000 nationwide agents. We also have agents in UK, Australia, and Canada. They said, “We really need four custom products. We need these items retrieved from different areas.” It was basically on-demand inspection. Now, we are creating and changing the way large enterprise clients are working. They were paying agents to do two to five inspections. Instead of doing that, they’re able to order an on-demand inspection with our lookers. It’s a lot more cost effective for them.