Checking out hashtags can be a great way to see what people are saying about current topics, but can Twitter be used as a reliable way to generate product reviews? One growing startup thinks so.
The product of entrepreneur Kevin Ohashi’s Master’s thesis, Review Signal is looking to generate crowdsourced reviews entirely from Tweets. The company is currently focusing on providing reviews of web hosting companies, finding Tweets that positively or negatively describe a customer’s general experience with the company and then generating an appropriate score in areas including support, pricing, and uptime. In the future Review Signal will even be used to rate consumer satisfaction with retail products and likely other services beyond web hosting.
We talked with Ohashi, who shared the backstory behind his innovative review generator, and let us in on how he likes to relax after a hard day of work.
What is the backstory behind Review Signal?
Review Signal is a review site for the social media era. My hypothesis is that reviews are really just opinions we share with one another. I designed Review Signal to collect and analyze the opinions people are sharing publicly to their friends and followers on social media.
The most influential event in Review Signal’s formation was my Master’s thesis. The topic was predicting box office sales using Tweets. I wrote a lot of software to gather Tweets and analyze them.
Once I had finished, I really wanted to put what I had built and learned into practice. Review Signal is the commercial manifestation of that research.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to run my own business. I recently discovered my dad’s old briefcase in my closet. It was filled with price sheets for services I was trying to sell in the neighborhood as a child. I couldn’t have been older than 10 at the time.
As a busy entrepreneur, how do you like to wind down and relax?
I just started The West Wing on Netflix and I am hooked. Watching an episode or two before bed has become my routine. I’m also a big fan of video games. Blizzard Entertainment games are a particular vice of mine.
What tends to be your daily soundtrack around the office?
I can’t function at work very long without Spotify. I generally listen to either electronic or classical music. It helps me zone out the office noise without distracting me and tempting me to listen to the words and sing along.
I don’t find the music particularly motivating most of the time. It’s a way to keep my mind focused on my current task.
If you could have one super power, which would you choose? What would be your kryptonite?
Super power would be seeing into the future. For kryptonite, I’ll pick M. Night Shyamalan movies.
What is your idea of happiness?
Financial security, good friends, and interesting problems to solve.
What does 2013 have in store for Review Signal?
This year I will be focusing on scaling. The biggest challenge will be scaling the technology that worked for the web hosting industry into other industries. I am working on domain registrars, which is closely related to web hosting. I am excited to see what sort of challenges arise as I try to tackle new industries.