Book of Odds, With Book Deal in Tow, Is Updating Website to Help Consumers Make Sense of Risks in Everyday Life

9/13/10Follow @xconomy

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drill down to find out how this number changes based on factors like gender and race. They can also adjust for specific types of cancers.

The odds statement will then appear in a visual, such as a bar graph, which the reader can use to contrast it against a different odds statement. For example, it can compare a white male’s odds of getting liver cancer to a black male’s odds of getting diagnosed with the same disease. The updated website will also connect users with content on how to lessen the risk, through things like user discussions.

Shapiro sees the company targeting several sectors where consumers are especially focused on mitigating risk and making smart decisions—namely healthcare, investing, careers, dating, and parenting. He says the company is first focusing its updates on these areas, and will be rolling them out through both the website and its specialized data sources for businesses.

The Book of Odds currently brings in some cash from ads on its consumer-facing site, but the majority of its revenue comes from business-to-business partnerships, where the company develops specialized content for customers in sectors like healthcare and technology. Shapiro says he’s hoping the site updates will improve both facets of the business, by building up the Book of Odds name and attracting greater website traffic. (The site’s traffic has been growing organically, from about 30,000 unique monthly visitors in January to 220,000 last month—which was not even a record month, Shapiro says). He’s also planning to work with businesses to license the content on their own corporate websites through widgets, polls, or even online quizzes and games, to take advantage of the increasingly massive social gaming trend. The company already has applications available on Yahoo and Google, and is working with the latter to develop an extension for its Chrome browser that could attach Book of Odds statements to content users read about on other sites.

Speaking of building up the Book of Odds brand, the company recently signed a $40,000 book deal with HarperCollins, to turn its Web-based content into hard copy, Shapiro says. The first book is designed to be a general look at its odds facts, with plenty of charts and colorful graphics, but future installments in the book franchise could look more closely at certain subjects like healthcare and relationships. The deal puts the Book of Odds in the category of blogs or websites- turned-books, like PostSecret, Waiter Rant, I Can Has Cheezburger?, and Stuff White People Like.

The startup has raised about $1 million over the last year from a number of individual angel investors, Shapiro says. It has not raised an institutional round of financing, but recently started working with the investment bank CVI Capital Holdings to explore financing models such as business partnerships, he says.

For Shapiro, the Book of Odds updates are very much about speaking to people in the language and concepts that they best understand. So, rather than … Next Page »

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