Photo: Guibuu via Flickr
David Lifson wants to simplify life for the small business owner.His company, Postling, has created a single tool that lets entrepreneurs of any size handle the increasingly overwhelming tangle of social media, marketing and location-based activity on the web.
“From one site you can see who’s checking in to your store on Foursquare, publish deals to a dozen group buying sites, manage your Google ad spend and repost a great customer review from Yelp,” Lifson tells us.
Lifson started the company with two engineers he met while working at Etsy, Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik. After leaving Etsy the trio founded a website called waffl, which was supposed to help bed and breakfast owners create websites and market themselves on the web.
“What we found was people didn’t want to take the time to learn new technology,” says Lifson. The failure of that business, however, was the inspiration for their next venture. “Postling was born out of the ashes of that experience.”
Rather than just cold pitch their service to small business, the three incorporated Etsy’s community-based approach to growing their new venture. Postling sponsors a monthly meetup for small business leaders called Sidewalk Collective. Attendees can share tips and tricks on everything from social media to staffing. “It’s like a chamber of commerce for the 21st century,” says Lifson.
Postling is careful not to use these events to push their product too hard. “Small business owners have highly-tuned BS sensors,” notes Lifson. The key, in his opinion, is to let the companies run the show and count on word of mouth to attract new clients. 41 companies showed up to Postling’s first event in April, 105 came in May and over 500 small businesses in four different cities are signed up for the next Sidewalk Collective. Many of these companies have begun to use Postling.
The bigger Postling’s network of clients, the more useful the site can become. “What’s the best time to have your happy hour discounts? No one really knows,” says Lifson. The site hopes to aggregate data and provide users with helpful metrics based on what works for similar businesses around the nation.
As the company expands, Lifson tries to think in the short and long term, but skip the middle. “It’s important to have small goals that you can achieve. But if you set unreasonable goals, it forces you to think about the problem differently.” Rather than just double the number of monthly meetups happening by 2011, Postling is aiming to have 100 Sidewalk Collectives per month in cities around the country.
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