Home loan comparison website Help Me Choose has closed five years after it was purchased by publicly-listed mortgage broking firm Mortgage Choice.
Help Me Choose was founded by serial internet entrepreneur Adir Shiffman but was sold to Mortgage Choice in 2010 for an undisclosed amount.
The mortgage broker firm originally purchased Help Me Choose in order to help it generate more home loan leads.
Mortgage Choice’s chief executive, John Flavell, said in a statement after the company presented its results for the financial year ending 2015 it became clear Help Me Choose’s financial position needed addressing.
“The less than favourable financial result of the Help Me Choose business prompted a comprehensive review of the operation and a decision has been made to close it down in its current form,” Flavell said.
“Mortgage Choice will continue to focus on evolving the Mortgage Choice business by building a compelling and differentiated financial services offering and, in turn, providing sustainable earnings for its shareholders… continuing to invest in a business that is unlikely to be profitable in the foreseeable future does not make sense.”
The closure of the mortgage and insurance comparison site comes as a wave of speciality comparison websites spring up across Australia.
The new industry players are increasing competition and forcing established brands to fight to retain customers.
Kenneth Ray, co-founder and chief executive of Aged Care Reviews, told SmartCompany the online comparison space can be a crowded market depending on what industry you are dealing with.
“If you look at industries with established comparison sites, it is difficult simply because the buying process has become sophisticated and has become far more differentiated,” Ray says.
“It’s a far more mature marketplace now, so having a general comparison website doesn’t quite cut the mustard. But in an industry like aged care – and there are others not as far along the digital disruption path – the notion is quite new.”
Aged Care Reviews compares both live-in and at-home aged care services and has previously raised $600,000 from investors.
The website receives around 25,000 unique visitors a month.
Ray says the purpose of comparison websites is to educate consumers but many consumers dealing with established industries already have a lot of information at their disposal.
“The purpose of these websites is to educate people … so that’s typically where those sites often need to evolve to give extra value in the buying process beyond just a comparison,” he says.
Ray says that there can also be a “mismatch” between a corporate’s financial expectations and a startup’s broader vision following an acquisition.
“Generally, I think startups who make it do so because they have a vision for the future and quite a novel vision that challenges orthodoxy … whereas a larger corporate has a lot of other competing priorities,” Ray says.
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