March 20, 2014
Many years and hundreds of startups later, small businesses still seem to be struggling to get online. SMPLE is attempting to tackle this problem with a unique, DIY twist.
The general challenge most local business owners face is figuring out how to get their business online. While it might seem straightforward to most tech-savvy people about what accounts to set up and how to use them, the same cannot be said for most local business owners – bakers, dentists, chefs, launderers, etc. The result is a fragmented online presence that ends up being relatively ineffective. We’ve seen a number of companies pop up to address various parts of this puzzle – Yext, with listings; Weebly, with websites; and so on.
The team at SMPLE is betting that most business owners still don’t have the right or most cost-effective solution in their hands. The team has built an engine loaded with over 300 rules that analyzes hundreds of different data points derived from a business’s online listings and profiles. This, in turn, generates a customized task list for a business owner based on various metrics, including type of business, level of expertise with a system, time required, level of value, and others.
However, it’s important to note that the software doesn’t actually make any changes to the business’s profiles. It simply provides the recommendations and leans on the business owner to make the change. Apparently, this decision is based on a small business survey with over 10,000 respondents. It will be interesting to see if they can make a DIY platform fly with already overworked small business owners.
Neal Vora, one of SMPLE’s founders, comments, “The premise is that business owners don’t want to spend time figuring out online ‘stuff’,’ but they also don’t have the money to spend on a consultant. With SMPLE, they get notified if there’s something they need to do along with information on how to do it. Beyond that, they don’t have to worry about anything else – that’s what the platform does for them.”
The platform also has a basic dashboard and provides notifications on reviews, comments, or anything else a business owner might want to know about.
This is the second iteration by the team on this same problem. The team had been in acquisition talks with a top-five website builder company late last year and has had a few investment requests from other larger enterprise social media management companies. At this point, however, the company is still running on a friends and family round.
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