The business, like so many startups in Silicon Valley, began with three people in an apartment building.
Ted Dziuba ’06 (computational math) was one of them. They were creating an online shopping website, Milo.com, that tracks real-time availability and prices of products in local stores.
The site was launched in January 2010. Milo moved to 165 University Ave., Palo Alto, known as Silicon Valley’s lucky building because successful businesses like Google and PayPal started there.
The building seemed to work. On Dec. 2, eBay Inc. announced that it had purchased Milo.
“It was a good thing for our company,” says Dziuba, noting that there are now 25 employees at Milo, which outgrew the lucky building and moved across the street. “What I am excited about is using eBay’s muscle to fill out this idea.”
Dziuba moved to Silicon Valley after graduating from RIT. He had done a co-op with Google the summer of his junior year and the company offered him a full-time position. Milo was his second attempt at a start-up company.
Dziuba and the other co-founders worked long hours figuring out how to make this shopping engine a reality. They also had to raise $4 million in 2009 from investors.
“I equate having a startup to having a kid,” Dziuba says. “When you are a startup, you are a small team and you are always on call. It’s something you can never leave.”
Dziuba and his wife, Julia Bethel ’06 (applied mathematics), had their first child, Rose, while Dziuba was trying to get Milo off the ground. Bethel works as a mathematician in San Francisco at a company that does modeling of the health care system.
Milo now has 50,000 stores in its database, most of them big box retailers that share the information with the company. When a customer types in a product, the site searches a database of products carried at various stores, finds out whether the product is in stock and gets price information.
Dziuba says they are not aware of the website affecting pricing but they know it affects buying decisions because they hear from users who bought a product locally instead of online.
“By making accurate, real-time, local store inventory and pricing available to online and mobile shoppers, we see a huge opportunity for local retailers, small businesses and eBay sellers to reach more buyers, and for consumers to make more informed buying decisions,” Mark Carges, chief technology officer and senior vice president, global products, eBay Marketplaces, said in a statement.
The next step is expanding the database to include mom-and-pop shops, Dziuba says. “We’ll take this idea as far as it can go.”
Go to www.milo.com for more information.