Making Money Using a Mobile Phone for Human Powered Search

News / Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Ever thought about becoming a digital concierge? Well that’s the thought behind services like Mahalo, ChaCha, 4INFO and many others who respond to text or voice message questions with SMS responses that filter through all the junk and give you human-based answers to your inquiries. How do these services make money? Well most plan to provide advertisements along with their answers to your questions but most will make deals with mobile phone carriers or other larger businesses in an effort to become that organization’s information provider of choice. You can do the same thing on a smaller scale by getting a 1-800 number and offering your services to local hotels or other convention centers who understand the convenience you can provide for their events and clientele.

Here are a few articles that provide more background on the subject:
What is the Future of Human-Powered Search?
Wall Street Journal: How Does Cha Cha Make Money?
TradeVibes Mahalo Overview and other human-powered search competitors

Many of these services have secured tens of million dollars in investment funding; whether a large, scalable human-search model can make serious money remains to be seen but the outlook remains promising. I’m convinced that the real money for niche mobile entrepreneurs is in providing targeted search services for your local market. You can also make some money in your spare time by becoming a consultant for many of the new services who are looking to grow the depth and breadth of their responder talent.

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