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Growing the first real-time customer search engine for social media.

Vernon Niven

As a technology start-up company of three, NeedTagger needed somewhere to locate their business. They were searching for a clean, affordable, air-conditioned place to better collaborate with each other and where, if possible, they could also interact with other technology companies. They found that at Co:Lab.

Led by successful and serial tech entrepreneur Vernon Niven, NeedTagger was the first real-time customer search engine for social media. Using natural language processing, NeedTagger helped build your business by connecting you with your market during critical moments of need. Unlike other social media monitoring tools, NeedTagger didn’t require you to sit in front of a screen all day monitoring fast and noisy streams. Instead, NeedTagger sifted Twitter for people expressing needs related to your business and delivered them to you.

You see, with more than 7,000 customers using the app and two years after its inception, NeedTagger went dark, shut down its site, closed its doors.

The reasons for closing can be best summarized by CEO, Vernon Niven, “Twitter kept changing their stripes on data supply creating, on our end, an unacceptable user experience for many of our customers. After exhausting all affordable options to resolve this we determined the right thing to do was to shut the apps down rather than deliver an unreliable service.”

Sometimes the best thing a young company can do is to fail fast. In other words, discover if it can rely on its partners and vendors, learn if the market needs the product and, if so, know that your company can deliver on its promises…or not.

Even though things didn’t end as hoped for NeedTagger, a serial entrepreneur like Vernon isn’t stopped by one setback. He learns from it and jumps back in the water. Fast. Vernon is now nearly three years into his next venture, BuyLike.Me.

Giving advice to Pensacola area entrepreneurs regarding the decision to apply for Co:Lab, Vernon has the following thoughts:

This is the ideal environment, for entrepreneurs, especially technology and software service companies and companies that are in their first or second year of existence because:

  1. The rent is below market prices.
  2. It’s great being part of a technology start-up place.
  3. The existing companies at Co:Lab will help you through collaboration and idea-sharing.
  4. The staff, advisors and mentors know the game. They’re good at helping without making you feel stupid.
  5. You’ll have someone there to help you understand the business end – the finances, and marketing – the things you don’t need to have as distractions.
  6. Some CEO’s of the other tenants may be on their third or fourth business. Learn from them, they’re a gold mine.
  7. Through Co:Lab and their events like Startup Weekend you’ll have opportunities to network and become part of a community here along the Great Emerald Coast.
  8. You’ll make friends and develop relationships that will last and may even be mutually beneficial in one of your future ventures.

See you on the water.