We've talked before about how finding information on a private company is much more difficult than researching public companies. So today we thought we'd take an example and walk through some different ways you can track down information. I'm intrigued by the idea of Getaround, a peer-to-peer car sharing company, so we'll use them as our example private company today. If you're not familiar with Getaround, you can check out their video below. It's a pretty fascinating idea. So, let's get started. Though, it probably seems obvious, the first thing I do when researching a private company is check out their webpage. In this case, Getaround's webpage is really helpful right from the get-go, linking me to several articles from The New York Times, TechCrunch and a couple of others. This gives me a great start. Just from these couple of articles, I can already see a few of their competitors and an estimate for the number of people using the service. And that's all from the front page. If I click on "Press" at the bottom of the screen, I'm taken to even more articles. Of course, if I'm Getaround, I'm only going to link to articles that reflect a positive opinion, so you'll definitely want to do an independent news search, but I've still got a great start.
If the company I'm researching has a technology slant (Getaround uses iPhone apps, etc.), I'll see if they're in Crunchbase (You can see our previous post about Crunchbase here.) Luckily for this post, Getaround is in Crunchbase and I can find out all kinds of things here. I can see how much, when and from whom they got their funding, where they're located and who the important people at the company are. Crunchbase also shows me recent news articles, competitors and screenshots. For a free resource, you really can't beat it which is why they've earned a place on our Favorite Resources page.
Another of our favorite resources for private company research is BizJournals. You'll see a search box up at the top right corner; just plug in your company name and snap! Eleven articles about Getaround which include funding information, quotes from the founders and a bit of company history.
Lastly, it's sometimes helpful to run a Google search on the company you're looking for and limit your results to PDFs. In this case my search looks like this "getaround cars filetype:pdf". These types of searches will take you to things like press releases, market research reports or contracts. You can do the same thing by limiting your search to PPT or XLS to find presentations and spreadsheets. You'll be surprised at all the things you can find if you're a savvy searcher.
All this for the low, low price of free.