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IBegin has been trying to add its own Web 2.0 sensibility to the listings business, offering free basic directories of businesses, and customization services on an upgrade basis. It now has 150 businesses and organizations subscribing, including schools, local and state government, city services, chambers of commerce, professional associations, hotels, golf courses, newspapers, TV stations and radio stations. The company is enabling businesses to claim and control their own business listings — a feature that is also provided by other listers (MerchantCircle, etc.). Claimants can presumably add additional information while they are at it, including photos, data, contact info, etc.

Founder Ahmed Farooq says “the gigantic benefit for a business is that once the data is correct in our database, it gets filtered to all of our customers. One listing, 150+ potential distribution points — a win for everyone.” Moreover, Google, Yahoo and MSN all “deeply crawl our page. Google hits us up to 500,000 times a day.”

Farooq acknowledges that other companies also allow businesses to claim a listing, but they have loose terms for doing so — mostly e-mail verification. Businesses need to call from their actual phone numbers to claim their listings in the iBegin system.

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