WhitePages PRO was founded in late 2010 by a team who took a look at two important facts: WhitePages.com, 411.com and related sites had become vital tools for successful business; and the most compelling force driving business people to our sites was trust of the data.
PRO builds upon this most trusted status with distinct advantages anchored solidly in clear and irrefutable business values: improve access and user experience; expand significantly the data that is available; and provide access for business uses which improve the lives of the consumer. Those uses include fraud prevention, identity verification, improvement in logistics and flow of goods, emergency or health-related notifications, assistance with loan applications, security in transfer of funds to your friends or family, the list goes on and on.
In June 2011 my tenure began as an evangelist of this vision. I started by calling people on the phone and asking them questions in order to understand more about their business. “What data is essential to your success? Who are your customers? Why WhitePages?” I talked with utility companies, insurance companies, bankers, auto traders, retail, e-tail, doctors, dentists, lawyers, real estate agents, collectors, caterers, college kids and senior citizens all over the country. One common thread in all of these conversations was how much they trusted the information they could find on our consumer sites – and so I would give them the good news of how PRO improves their access to that data, deepens their connection with their customers and protects the value of their business.
Before long I was traveling all over the country, discussing PRO in conference halls, in meetings at big name corporations, over lunch with small or mid-size business owners. This allowed me to better understand the science of data and how it impacts commerce at all levels of our economy. I have to say that being the “most trusted” has its advantages, including opening doors and keeping conversations lively. Everything I learn is shared with all of my colleagues here in Seattle. This includes the ones that build the products we offer to the folks that forge relationships required to source the most accurate data possible. And let’s not forget about the ones that create a stable, collaborative and exciting environment to work in.
PRO has become a suite of products that reflect the mission of WhitePages extremely well; “Be the first place for people and businesses to find, be found and connect.” More than 15,000 new users have adapted our applications in the past 12 months. And as with any business experiencing a healthy evolution, the future is full of promise. There are some very good reasons for this, the foundations that PRO is built upon.
One key foundation is the Contact Graph— our technology leaders and data scientists have taken a world that was historically viewed as flat and linear, and transformed it into a multi-dimensional living entity. We are approaching a time when all of the data that is presented in our products will have the capability of being updated in real time. That is amazing. Another foundation is solid product management, based in best practices that are applied to the releases of our growing product offerings. Having a team that contains and prioritizes this process with our developers and data scientists is essential. A third is brand—taking these fantastic products to market with a great story. Our marketing and sales teams strive for consistency and believability in their efforts to present the PRO story in a way that captures the imagination and attention of business leaders. And a fourth is culture— working with smart, dedicated technology professionals in an environment that is collaborative, driven, self-critical and fun!
My prediction is that four years from now WhitePages PRO will continue to be viewed as the “Most Trusted” contact data source for businesses. We will expand our brand and reach to become a true global resource. It’s been a fabulous ride so far and I look forward to seeing if my predictions come true.
To learn more about PRO’s data story, click here.