a PAW web exclusive column
'80, CEO of Dealtime.com, helps users find the best prices on scores
By Rob MacKay '89
Shopaholics who have
grown tired of the constant crowds, parking problems, and lines
associated with their passion might think that they have reached
Nirvana after surfing to www.dealtime.com.
Run by Dan Ciporin '80,
this free comparison-shopping service allows users to check out
an infinite number of products, prices, and stores from behind a
computer screen. Then there's the option to buy, buy, buy - and
similar to the Yellow Pages. For example, let's say you're looking
for a digital camera," says the Woodrow Wilson School alumnus.
"We'll give you a listing of all the stores that hold it, the
merchant ratings, and even tell you if it's in stock. That way you
can find what you want without having to visit any stores. We also
give information on shipping costs."
About four years old,
DealTime makes money by charging sellers for high placement on their
lists. Companies can also pay a little extra and get their logos
featured or have their names show up in color. (Ciporin says that
stores that don't pay extra are still listed.)
It's all so modern and
high tech. But Ciporin is quick to emphasize that the lessons he
learned during his year in India with Princeton-in-Asia and his
two years in Thailand after graduation are what prepared him for
today's work force. In India he worked as a copywriter for an advertising
agency during a year off. The experience convinced him to join Woodrow
Wilson School, where he did a thesis on South East Asian politics
and the refuge crises.
That led to his accepting
a two-year stint with the International Rescue Committee in a Cambodian
refugee camp located in Sa Kaeo, Thailand. He started off teaching
English and helping medical brigades, but soon he was running the
educational facilities at a 35,000-refugee village.
At the time, the Khmer
Rouge military dictatorship was forcing an "agrarian utopia"
on Cambodia and was summarily killing anybody with an education,
especially teachers. They had banned schools and eliminated money.
For four years, the country hadn't learned anything.
Within the friendly
confines of the camp, Ciporin built an entire school system from
the ground up - training teachers, getting books and desks, locating
places to study and developing curriculums.
"It was incredibly
fulfilling. I felt I was making such an enormous impact in people's
lives," he says. "But it made me understand that uniting
a diverse group towards one common goal is what leadership is all
about. It's the same skill set for nonprofits as for multinational
businesses...Teamwork is what business is about."
Ciporin returned home
and got a degree from the Yale School of Management. Then he consulted
for Fortune 500 companies and ran MasterCard International's U.S.
He joined DealTime about
two and a half years ago as CEO and chairman during the Internet
Gold Rush. Times were good, but he feels the true strength of the
company was demonstrated by how it responded to the depths of the
Internet drop. "The Internet has gone from boon to bust to
reality," he says. "But the fact is that e-commerce is
here to stay and it's still growing. In large numbers, people are
starting to shop on-line and then shop more and more on-line. Now
the question is how these people are going to do their transactions."
Rob MacKay is a frequent
contributor to PAW Online and can be reached at email@example.com