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Cobrain Opens Up Shop In Bethesda

By Aaron Kraut

Friday - 12/13/2013, 2:25pm  ET

CobrainA new Bethesda company wants to take the “exploitation” out of the data used to figure out what products you want to buy.

Cobrain, which unveiled its phone app and website this week, uses email receipts to get your data, compare it to others who share your tastes and offer products from about 300 retailers that match that data.

The company, from CareerBuilder.com founder Rob McGovern, employs 16 people at its new office at 4330 East-West Highway.

Marketing is rapidly evolving from slogans to data. When I studied marketing in the 1980′s, the central focus was conventional topics like product promotion, tag lines, advertising copy, and pricing. Marketing is now a profession about analytics and data, with the central goal of uncovering information to give the seller an inside track to your wallet,” McGovern wrote on the website. “Companies like Equifax and Transunion amass huge amounts of personal data to be sold to hungry marketers. You’d be amazed and depressed what they know. The reality is marketing is now about using data to exploit consumers. Today’s marketer is a data analytics expert, relentlessly searching for the magic bytes that will compel you to pull out your credit card.

“While marketing becoming exploitation is a scary trend, I’d like to propose a different path,” McGovern said. “What if we could turn the tables in favor of the consumer, empowering you instead of exploiting you?”

The app is free. Cobrain makes money from commissions by referring customers directly to the websites of merchants.

Spokesperson Josie Keller said the company chose Bethesda because of its proximity to federal government agencies that deal in big data.

The selections now are limited to clothing apparel sellers. Keller said the company has been talking about expanding the app to cover restaurants and hotels.

“If we have information about where you regularly eat in Bethesda, then if you’re traveling to Atlanta we can easily make a recommendation to a restaurant that is similar,” Keller said.

McGovern began hiring developers and software architects in May, before officially announcing what Cobrain would do. The Potomac resident has faced criticism for JobFox, his last venture, which was sold amid a class action suit alleging fraud and misrepresentation in connection with its resume writing and premium job services.

Image via Cobrain