Import Genius: On the Nature of Genius and Intelligence within Trade Intelligence

The last of the “Big Five” Trade Intelligence Suppliers, that we’ll take a cursory look at within the pack of those that fetch, rework and dole out U.S. Customs Waterborne import data, is Import Genius.

UBM Global Trade/PIERS is the undeniable alpha dog of the pack.  Datamyme, Zepol, Panjiva and Import Genius are all hungry, younger but now veteran TI providers who have successfully carved out market niches for themselves, although the fight for who will dominate the foreign sourcing space is ongoing.  Then there are another dozen newcomers, foreign and domestic, that jealously circle, hunting for market opportunities and usually competing on price alone.

Import Genius is one of the "Big Five" TI providers

Like their peers, Import Genius has a well designed website, makes good use of social media and offers a plethora of slick promotional materials. (PIERS, ironically, is the notable exception in those regards. A shortcoming I am sure won’t last long.)  Import Genius’ blog “Making Waves” is getting rather dated though, with the last entry at the time of this writing being 120 days old.  They offer several ways to taste their product through video, screenshots or interactive presentation.  They’ve generated a lot of press, to be sure. Of particular note, is the Spotlight Review by  You can also find them on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Import Genius Ingenious Logo

Import Genius, headquartered in Scottsdale and founded by brothers Ryan and David Petersen along with Michael Kanko, came on the scene in 2008 about the same time as their smart Cambridge cousin, Panjiva, hit the streets.  Unlike Panjiva, however, the Petersen clan had to bootstrap their start-up themselves. Like Panjiva and the rest of the “Big Five”, they offer their own brand of search, analytics and reporting utilities sitting atop of the usual U.S. Customs data.  In this regard, Import Genius doesn’t seem offer anything spectacular or noteworthy.

PIERS is currently the ONLY TI provider that integrates other trade related databases, statistical company profiles and export transactions successfully into the mix.  Particularly since PIERS’ acquisition of the innovative CenTradeX TI applications in 2010, they have significantly distanced themselves from any competitors in regards to sophistication and dimensionality.

Until Import Genius and the rest of the pack invests the financial, technical, intellectual and creative resources to expand and integrate other trade databases and develop comprehensive solutions for the world trade industry, PIERS will continue as the dominant player with all other contenders ultimately competing on price alone.  This is chiefly due to the fact that the underlying U.S. Customs data (that ALL the referenced companies base their products upon) is cheap and available, and off-the-shelf business intelligence software is becoming more robust and easier to deploy.

There yet remains vast undeveloped frontiers and opportunities to explore and claim in service to the multi-trillion dollar World Trade Industry for those with the GENIUS, resources and fortitude to pursue innovation within the field of Trade Intelligence.

One Response to “Import Genius: On the Nature of Genius and Intelligence within Trade Intelligence”

  1. Thanks for the review Robert. Don’t you work for though?

    In any case, stay tuned for some interesting new features and product lines from We think there’s a lot of untapped potential to do new and interesting things with the data.

    Our visual mapping was our first attempt at that, and its been a key differentiator for us versus Piers and the other IT providers. Another important way we’ve stood apart has been price, where we’ve remained the low-cost provider and steadily eaten away market share from the bigger players.


    Ryan Petersen

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