Convey Intensity

“Vark!”

That’s the noise a little Aardvark would make if it was a computer program.
Aardvark is a social search engine. Google searches through information published on the internet to find an answer to your question. Aardvark, on the other hand, takes your question, such as:

“What are some activities to keep an 11 year old, 9 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old busy? I am babysitting these children this Saturday, and I am wondering what I can do to keep all the different ages entertained. Thanks!”

and finds a busy mother of four to answer it for you. Aardvark lives in your chat client, be it gchat, AIM, or what have you, always ready to take your questions. And if someone asks a question that falls into your area of expertise, it will ask you if you can answer the question.

Interestingly, Aardvark has just published a paper on the mechanics of social search. Part of their value as a business lies in the unique understanding they have of how to comb social networks for information.

I met with Timothy Bentley, employee #1 at Aardvark, and a Brown grad, to discuss the concept of Aardvark and my job search.

I have some concerns about Aardvark’s business model. For one, there’s very little revenue. However, at Aardvark they don’t see this as a huge obstacle. They can sell the right to answer questions on a certain topic; for example, they can sell a law firm the right to answer legal questions, which might gain them some clients. They would also be an interesting acquisition target for Google or any of the other major search engines, who might want to incorporate social search into their products. Rumor has it that Google offered them $30 million, but I couldn’t confirm that.

Tim gave me a lot of good advice for my job search, which sums up to: “Convey intensity.” Tell your interviewer that you love to work and you pursue your interests with intensity and passion.
Demonstrate that you can manage yourself and find important work to do, without needing to be told what to do (like the vast majority of people). A manager’s dream employee is one who he/she doesn’t have to manage at all. Be that person.

Tim asked me to give him my shpiel. I started out, “I’m looking for a job as a product manager at a tech start-up because I’m interested in technology and entrepreneurship.”
“Cut out the ‘I’m interested in,'” he said. “You can be interested in a lot of things. Is it what you have a passion for?”
I realized that the way I present myself tends to be toned-down, modest. It’s good to be modest, but you also have to tell the person that you can do the work, that you are a passionate person, and that you are a self-starter.

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