For many small business owners, the Internet is something to be feared not appreciated for its distribution power. Depending on the category, it’s necessary for every business to list on dozens of platforms, not to mention maintain its own website. Each time a business wants to make a change to its services or menu, its pricing, its contact information, or any other detail, it must do so repeatedly across the Web. The scale and complexity of managing this situation can be overwhelming for even the most technically-savvy user, let alone the masses.
Locu offers small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) a solution to this problem. The real-time, hyper-local database startup makes it possible to upload data once and synchronize it across multiple platforms across the Web, including through partnerships with Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, and CitySearch. Today, the company expanded this list, adding a new partner that should get it in front of hundreds of thousands of new small businesses before they ever have a presence on the Web: GoDaddy.
Through this GoDaddy partnership, the Locu’s widget is now available to business-owners during the website design process, making it easy to create smart menus and services pages and contact information fields that will populate throughout the company’s network. The company has a similar plugin for WordPress.
GoDaddy is a giant in the domain space. While the company holds its data close to the vest, conversations with those in the industry indicate that the company hosts on the order of 50 million domains, a significant portion of the US market (there are 250 million registered domains worldwide). And with new top level domains (TLDs) coming on the market this fall, not to mention the growing ubiquity of the Internet in general, this number is likely to explode in the near future. Cozying up to the massive company makes perfect sense for Locu.
Locu has taken a hybrid approach to organizing hyper-local data. The company aggregates structured and unstructured data from its partners and from the public Web. The company then cleans and organizes this data into a database of businesses and services, with several patents filed for its methods. Each business that signs up for Locu then gets access to this data as a starting point, which it can update manually, making the data entry process far less painful. At the end of the day, the company’s goal is twofold:to have a comprehensive global database of all businesses and their services, and to ensure that these businesses can accurately and efficiently disseminate this information to the furthest reaches of the Web.
The Locu platform is available for via a freemium model, with a free tier giving business access to limited design templates, editing functionality, and distribution. The company’s Premium and Premium Plus plans cost $25 and $65 per month respectively and add incremental support and functionality such as mobile ordering widgets, live chat, and photo support.
Locu is headquartered in Cambridge, with 20 employees across this site and its San Francisco office. The company has raised $4.6 million across two rounds of financing from Quotidian Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Lowercase Capital, Lightbank, SV Angel, and several prominent angels such as Factual founder Gil Elbaz and Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum.
The two year old startup is in the midst of a massive land grab, as (structured) data becomes an increasingly valuable commodity in today’s always-online world. The GoDaddy partnership should dramatically accelerate Locu’s growth, although at the very long-tail end of the market. As its network of merchants grows – a number that’s in the tens of thousands today – it can more easily enter distribution and data-sharing partnerships with platforms like Yelp, and the like. On the flip side of that coin, the greater its reach and distribution, the more attractive its platform looks to merchants.
Locu is a rare win-win scenario where its customers want the company to share their data far and wide, and that data is highly valuable to the world at large. With incentives like that, there’s a lot of inertia behind this company in its quest for massive scale.
- LocuHelping Local Businesses Thrive
Locu, founded by a group of MIT graduates, is building software to help local businesses thrive. $10bn are lost each year due to bad or missing local data. More than 40,000 merchants already use Locu to get found and keep their information, such as specials, opening hours and photos, up-to-date in real-time on their web and mobile sites as well as a network of partners, including Yelp, Foursquare, OpenTable, TripAdvisor and Facebook.