An Unlikely Company Inspired JHTV’s New Technology Search Engine
Ever purchase something from Zappos? If so, you may find Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures’ technology publisher site familiar.
The inspiration to improve users’ technology search experiences with an e-commerce-style search engine came to Pete Vrettakos, an associate director at JHTV, after buying shoes from Zappos. Not only did the site display the items that matched his search precisely, it showcased items outside of the specific search parameters that matched his tastes and interests. This type of search, Vrettakos thought, would wholly improve the experiences of users looking at Johns Hopkins’ technology portfolio.
“JHTV wants to ensure that the people who engage us have the best possible experience,” Vrettakos says. “Taking inspiration from Zappos, a company well-known for its customer service and business success, seemed like a logical step. We want to make it simple and easy to find the relevant technologies we are developing.”
The enhanced search engine powered by Algolia, a company which specializes in building search engines for mobile applications and websites, provides users more accurate results, the ability to easily refine and export results, and notifications when new technologies in a particular interest area are added.
“When you search for shoes on Zappos, you learn more about shoes than you thought you needed to know, making it a better search experience,” Vrettakos says. “We’re not aware of any other technology transfer office with a guided e-commerce style search functionality for its tech portfolio.
“The intuitive format guides searchers to the information they want and, in some cases, to information they didn’t know they wanted.”
Vrettakos credited several JHTV colleagues—business analyst Kellin Krick, marketing and communications manager Hanju Lee and IT manager Alan Mullenax—and Tim Hollobon from Inteum, a software provider for technology transfer offices, for moving his idea from concept to reality.
“We hope this intuitive and guided searchability of Johns Hopkins’ technology portfolio will drive an increase in traffic to our website as more people come to search for technologies,” Vrettakos says. “Ultimately, this may make it more likely that many of the amazing inventions generated here are licensed which will facilitate the institution’s greater mission of bringing the benefits of discovery to the world.”
The revamped search functionality is only the latest effort by JHTV to improve customer service. In March 2016, the Technology Transfer team launched the 2-2-2 program to increase responsiveness and transparency for those submitting an invention disclosure. This program ensures that inventors receive a response within two days, have a meeting scheduled within two weeks and will have a written decision within two months.
“At all levels, from inventor response to online technology asset searching to transactional tempo, JHTV is building greater efficiency into our commercialization experience,” says Neil Veloso, JHTV’s executive director of technology transfer. “By no means are these one-off efforts. We will continue to identify opportunities that will enable us to become even more streamlined and better serve those with whom we work.”
In April 2017, immediately before the opening of the FastForward 1812 innovation hub, JHTV also launched its new website with simplified navigation intended to help its primary audiences: inventors, industry collaborators/investors, and startups. The redesigned site intends to allow users to find the information they need when they need it.