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Offers Pokemon inducements

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Parents: from today you could become the most popular mum and dad in the world if you register at search engine/shopping guide hoojit.com. The site is giving away complete sets of Pokemon cards as an enticement (or if you want to teach the little brats a lesson in humility you could go for the helicopter ride or webcam).

We spoke to Darryl Bowman the site's marketing manager who went to great lengths to tell us why Hoojit is soon to be the best site on the Web. Set up by Telinco founder Chris Matthews (who has ploughed some 10 million of the 90 million he made from the sale of Telinco to World Online), Hoojit is a shopping portal with a "next-generation" site engine incorporated to get the traffic flowing.

Sadly, we couldn't get much info about why the search engine (ready by the autumn apparently) is going to be so wonderful. "I don't want to talk too much about exactly how it works," said Darryl. Why not? Anyway, it promises to understand the semantics (meaning) of words in Web pages, so cutting out all the irrelevant sites that engines throw at you. It's got an "incredible" graphic interface which works on human-thought tangents.

Where's the money you ask? Well, buy anything through Hoojit's shopping guide and it gets an average cut of between three to ten per cent. It has a pretty good approach too. As Darryl says: "People don't shop for shops, they shop for products." True. So input, say, socks into the guide search site and it goes through all affiliated firms' product list and spits them out at you.

So what? Nothing really, but it is a lovely interface and the company has signed up some big boys such as Comet, Dixons and Index. Hoojit will help smaller companies put their inventory information (presumably for a fee) into its site, and once there the companies will be given access to their own inventory for automatic updating.

It's a risky game, there's no doubt, but the rewards could well be worth the risk. Tacking on a book finder and hotel guide and with an impressive collection of minds, Hoojit is in with a good chance. Where'd the name come from? Even the marketing manager isn't too sure, but as he admitted, when the mainstream press start asking there will be a good answer ready for them. ®

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