The NSW government’s crackdown on businesses that operate comparison websites led Ankit Jain, CEO of startup CIMET, to build an online model that could be scaled across multiple sectors and integrated within existing businesses.
Comparison models have been popular for some time, but have come under increasing scrutiny from regulators, concerned about transparency and a lack of disclosure on how the sites are funded. The NSW government threatened new consumer laws targeting comparison services, accusing them of obscuring any commissions, referral fees or other financial compensation by the companies they recommend.
The ACCC launched legal action against commission-based comparison website One Big Switch last year and the business was fined $25,000 for misleading conduct over the discounts offered to consumers. The competition watchdog wants to introduce a mandatory code for comparison sites to force them to focus on customer benefit.
Ankit Jain, CEO of startup CIMET said consumers were crying out for a simple comparison solution that empowers them to make the best choice possible.
CIMET is an Australian startup providing a free energy comparison tool for businesses to integrate in their system — to generate new revenue streams, and allow the end users to access better deals through the service.
“Having successfully run an inbound, outbound and telemarketing business with over 400 staff, I saw a gap in the market for a comparison service with an online model that could be scaled across multiple sectors and integrated within existing businesses,” said Jain.
The CIMET model builds upon the comparison model and offers a unique solution that is first in market. Any business, regardless of size or industry, can integrate the CIMET white-label API on its website to offer comparison services for energy plans as a value add to their customers.
CIMET is privately owned and funded and has been in operation since September 2018. Jain said it has seen an 18% month-on-month increase on the platform – signing about 10 new white label partners each month – and has helped 180,000 users compare their energy plans.
To support the rapid growth and success of the CIMET platform, the team is currently looking to raise $5 million.
“Funding is an often cited problem, but this has become less of an issue as foreign capital and VCs continue to invest in innovative Australian businesses,” he said. “Startups are a big driver of innovation in Australia and frequently challenge how consumers and businesses interact with products and services.
“A bigger challenge is going to market with something that is new and figuring out how to best educate customers on why the solution is beneficial. This is crucial to building the business and progressing beyond the innovator/early adopter stage.”
Jain said focusing on customer value and experience is fundamental, and being quick to respond when something needs improvement.
The CIMET team are currently working on a mobile plan comparison tool which will expand the selection of value-add opportunities.