User-friendly Stock Research & Due Diligence Website

By: Roy MacNaughton

This is a story about a website that went live in December. It was conceived then developed out of necessity and market research. The individual investor who created it was tired of doing financial research the slow and tiresome way.

If you check in the usual places, you'll find that for more than 35 years, Campbell has been viewed as a leading Canadian expert in the rendering of independent business valuation opinions. He wrote the definitive Canadian books on it. I found that Campbell has been honored by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators. They have named an annual research grant after him.

I interviewed Campbell and asked him why he conceived the website. He responded that his own frustration with the data overload on the Internet, coupled with the untold hours it took him to manage his own portfolio, led him to realize he could do much better.

Campbell did not fall into the trap of building a service based only on his needs. He first talked to dozens of investors. Then, he designed and conducted unbiased market research. The result is a special membership site for investors, their advisers and analysts who want to systematically research investment ideas.

But knowing that you can save yourself time and money with your way of researching and conducting your own due diligence ' as if you were a company acquirer ' was just not enough. In order to see if his concept made sense, he had to conduct formal consumer market research. Campbell had a seasoned market researcher work with him to craft and distribute a detailed questionnaire directed at thousands of individuals in the U.S. and Canada. Each had at least $100K in the market and was interested in individually managing or having an investment adviser handle his portfolio. What he learned helped him refine the actual 'service offerings' in the concept.

But for me, it's about how the website provides member access to a proprietary patent-pending 'due diligence' questionnaire that includes more than 200 questions organized by topical headings. The questionnaire searches through company documents by key words.

The searches are linked to company documents. This enables subscribing members to link directly to that response as it appears within the same context within the company documents. Once the search is concluded, a customized questionnaire is available for the member's review and follow-up. Subscribers have an opportunity to quickly and systematically learn a great deal about an individual company ' without having first to read unending corporate documents. (In market research, when you ask 'open-ended' questions, you're not sure what the respondents are going to say; but this is usually where the real diamonds are found.)

Interestingly, members now learn what the company has not disclosed that may be important to their analysis. All questions that do not yield a response to the special keywords search are reproduced in a 'follow-up questionnaire'.

Now flashback to that survey conducted earlier. "While we were conducting the wide-ranging research with target group respondents, I was constantly hearing the words: unbiased, independent, and transparent", Campbell said. "I knew that if we were to get the attention and loyalty of those who wanted such an investment tool, we would have to ensure that we accepted no money from anyone except our own subscriber-members; that we provided totally objective information; that we would not provide any buying or selling advice. Moreover, this site had to be totally transparent", he added.

Now, nearly one year later, Campbell has organized his observations, conducted extensive research, laid out an interactive marketing plan; built a site...all according to what his target group said they wanted.

?Copyright, Roy MacNaughton, 2007

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