track your competitors online is a very useful looking competitive intelligence service built in Ruby on Rails that launched today. It’s a simple but powerful way to keep track of competing companies online. This is something that I think many of our readers, at least the ones working on startups, could find very helpful. The service is currently free but there are obviously any number of ways it could be monetized. I would gladly pay a subscription fee for it. Most of the functions here can be performed by various free or low cost services, but this one brings many of them into one place.

The creators of, Dream This, LLC, have been working on similar services for different markets for some time. See for example their site Personal Trainer Pages. I think this newest service is right on target.

The basic idea is that it’s a tool for web startup teams to keep track of their competitors. You start by creating a project like “Ajax startpages” or whatever field you are interested in. You then add competitors by home page URL. hits the web and brings back each company’s blog, recent blog posts, related blog posts from off site and detailed traffic data from Alexa.

Each competitor page has an Ajax drop down to build a feature list. When one competitor on a project has a feature added, a check box for that feature is added to all the other competitors’ pages. You can then view all of the competitors and features in a full page matrix.

Blog posts are displayed (via the Google Ajax Search API) on the same page as each company’s information and can be sent to the clippings section with one click. When you add something to clippings you’re asked for comments and whether you want to email the clipping to the rest of your team.

There’s also a browser bookmarklet for adding news to clippings from off site. That bookmarklet brings up fields for related project, competitors and comments.

All of these clippings from a team of users can be subscribed to through a secure RSS feed. Any number of enterprise social bookmarking services are slowly emerging but this single feature in a relatively lightweight service makes it really valuable.

A team can work on any number of projects, each with different permission levels for individual users. Recent activity is listed on the sidebar so you can quickly check in on the newest discussion about your competitors in one place.

The only things I can think of that would be nice to have included here that are not might be an alert system leveraging filtered RSS feeds and maybe an automatic logo or favicon capture so you can keep the competitor’s look and feel in your minds’ eye. Audio search to know when competitors are mentioned in podcasts could be good. Some different functionality to compare your competitors to your own product could be helpful as well.

I think is a nice clean product that the team should be proud of. Web 2.0 sees a lot of very far out products getting developed but this one makes perfect sense. Whether you’re working on something else that makes sense or you’re on one of the many teams building things that are hard to even imagine – may be just the 2.0 tool you’re looking for to stay on top of the news in your market niche.