In a word association exercise, most of you would immediately say “puzzle” on hearing the word “jigsaw.” But when it comes to finding out who to contact to do business with America’s biggest corporations, Jigsaw Data Corporation makes “solution” the first word you might think of.
That’s because Jigsaw has created an online business-contact database that is robust and very affordable to use for businesses of your size. Small businesses are always trying to sell things to big companies— after all, it’s their bread and butter. But as often as not, you don’t have the information you need to get the job done: Most particularly, you may not know who to contact.
Jigsaw will work for you in those situations, because if you don’t have a contact at a company you’re targeting, Jigsaw probably does. If you do know, or know of, someone in that company, but have no access to a company directory, Jigsaw probably knows how to contact that person. Perhaps even better, if you’re just looking for a broad array of contacts across an industry or some other market segment, Jigsaw has the tools and the data you need to find them.
Jim Fowler, CEO
Jigsaw’s contact-data collection-and-distribution mechanism is really the result of a member marketplace that’s operating in the field, not a research organization plodding away in a cubicle farm. Members who want to access Jigsaw’s huge volume of contacts can buy or contribute their way in. “Members can buy, sell, or trade their contact information through the Jigsaw system,” says founder Jim Fowler. A very clever and productive member may not have to pay anything, but that would be rare, said Fowler.
How Jigsaw Works
When a member signs up, he or she commits to buying contacts with a credit card or with points. “Basically a member pays $25 per month to gain access to the data,” says Fowler, “or alternatively they can contribute 25 new contacts each month in which they are a member.” Every contact a member contributes earns that member 10 points, and every time a member updates or corrects the information in a contact’s entry, they also earn 10 points. A member can earn a whopping 125 points by referring a new member into the Jigsaw network.
Once in the Jigsaw bank, points can be used to buy contact information. “Each contact retrieved from the data base costs 5 Jigsaw points,” says Fowler, “or you can think of it as $1.00.” That is attractive for members, because each contributed contact earns 10 points, which means the earn/use ratio for Jigsaw points is 2:1.
Members who earn sufficient points don’t have to pay cash to use Jigsaw. A unique twist to the system is that members with excess points can sell them. “We’ve established a marketplace,” says Fowler, “in which members can sell Jigsaw points for the going rate of $1.00 per contact.” He said that it’s a win-win-win situation, because the buying member, the selling member, and Jigsaw all benefit from the trades. “Our top earners have earned as much as $750 in a month,” says Fowler, “and hey, that’s a serious car payment.”
More Than Sales, More Than Small Businesses
Sales is only one use of the Jigsaw data. It’s also useful for people looking for jobs, and for human-resources professionals looking for candidates to fill jobs. “We provide an environment in which the data is as robust as it can possibly be, which makes it useful for any application where the initial problem is to find a person doing a particular job inside a company,” says Fowler.
And companies of all sizes use Jigsaw. Fowler can’t provide a list, but he talks anecdotally about how very large companies’ sales forces have come to depend on the company’s unique contact database. Not surprisingly, companies with a large number of contacts in the database are also large users of Jigsaw.
Jigsaw was started just over a year ago and was officially launched at the Demo@15 conference in February, 2005. The initial database included 15,000 contacts, but that number has grown. “Today we have nearly 2.5 million business contacts from 155,000 companies, and they range in job title from top to bottom,” says Fowler. Another sign of growth is Jigsaw membership, which has grown from some 4,500 in March of 2005 to nearly 55,000 today.
Contact information includes, at a minimum, the person’s name, title, address, direct phone number, and e-mail address. “We discourage the inclusion of personal information,” says Fowler, “and that includes cell-phone numbers.” A big part of the puzzle Jigsaw solves is that job function is included as well as job title.
A unique and important characteristic of the Jigsaw method is that the data is self-correcting. If a member contacts someone in the database and finds out that his or her job function or title has changed, or that the person is no longer at that job or company, the member corrects the data. “Look, it’s more points, and at Jigsaw, points are money,” says Fowler. “People and corporations today are so dynamic that the traditional data-collection model for a data company just cannot keep up,” says Fowler. “Jigsaw has tens of thousands of members across the Internet who drive our data growth and are keeping the data fresh and up-to-date.” Fowler adds that the company is just beginning to reach its goal. “We want to map every business contact on the planet.”
There’s a chance that Jigsaw might make it. “We’re growing by up to 10,000 contacts a day,” says Fowler, “so we’ll get there.”
To find out more about Jigsaw, or to become a member, visit the Jigsaw web site.