After the GoogleIO conference a few weeks ago, I attended the Mashable soiree at SoMA watering hole Roe. Somewhat jaded by jetlag, too little sleep and a punishing conference schedule, I spent most of the evening leaning against a wall trying to stop falling asleep. I must have looked a little forlorn because some really interesting people came and chatted with me. One of those people was Ellie Cachette, CEO and Founder of super-early stage startup, ConsumerBell.
ConsumerBell is a simple concept – a website dedicated to collecting unresolved consumer complaints and issues against companies, while assisting consumers with finding others like themselves with similar or reoccurring issues. ConsumerBell pitches itself as a service that “puts the power back in the hands of consumers and works with with online agencies in giving scores to measure online reputation”.
Cachette started ConsumerBell for the noblest of reasons – her father, a hemophiliac, was infected with HIV in the ’80s. Subsequently it took ten years to discover he was one of thousands in the same situation worldwide. Cachette’s father died a few years after he settled with Bayer Pharmaceutical out of court. Her father’s story can be read here.
In explaining why she started ConsumerBell, Cachette articulated her belief that with new products and online forms of communications consumers should be able to interact with each other fast, and companies can be forced financially into making ethical decisions—the first time around.
ConsumerBell is a for-profit operation and Cachette explained that she envisages monetizing through lead generation – both through providing sentiment feedback to companies, and also by providing qualified class-action leads to attorneys. While the former can certainly helps organizations become more responsive and consumer-focused, the later sits a little uncomfortably with me given my discomfort with the overly litigious US system.
Either way, Consumerbell hopes to give consumers a voice and potentially stop someone going through an experience that Cachette and her father went through.