When former Expedia executive Mark Britton founded Avvo in 2007, the goal was to create an online directory and ranking system of attorneys. The Seattle company continues to offer that service — along with a directory of doctors. But Avvo is now putting a bigger emphasis on its Q&A forum, redesigning its home page to emphasize how attorneys and doctors can solve people’s problems.
The company says that its Q&A forums are now attracting about 50,000 questions per month, which means doctors and lawyers are dispensing with advice to users of the site about every 90 seconds.
There you can find questions like: “Does having a medical marijuana card interfere with my green card?” or “Is it true that herpes can be caused by stress/mental not associated with sex?”
In a blog post today, Britton explained why the company is now focusing on its Q&A forums. And he stressed how Avvo is looking to set a new bar for online advice that goes beyond those offerings found on Quora and Yahoo Answers.
“More and more, these empowered consumers are realizing that while search engines and other Q&A sites serve up access to a wealth of information, they don’t make it easy to find trusted information or expert advice that addresses the person’s specific need,” said Britton in a blog post. “As a result, they are turning to resources like Avvo that offer more personal, more reliable, and more efficient ways to get the advice they need and compare providers – all in one place.”
(Interestingly, you can debate whether Avvo or Quora is better for answering people’s questions on Quora).
Avvo raised a $10 million round led by DAG Ventures last year, with Benchmark Capital and Ignition Partners also participating. It has raised about $23 million to date.
UPDATE: I asked Avvo for a little more information on the differences between Avvo and Quora, and here’s what spokeswoman Megan Olendorf had to say:
Quora has proven that Q&A is an effective way – and a viable alternative to a search engine – for people to get specific information online. Quora’s crowdsourced approach is great for people that they are curious about something or want to debate a public topic. However, it is not the place for people to go when they need expert advice about a personal matter. And that’s where Avvo is focused. We have a community of tens of thousands of verified and rated doctors and lawyers providing expert advice when people need it most.