“Small business,” “marketing tools” and “viral marketing” = a new generation of Yellow Pages that will really help businesses get more local customers. Or so hopes Merchant Circle, a well-funded startup that officially launches in June.
Like a blogroll, small businesses add other small businesses from their community to their network, trade ads, and get mutual attention from local consumers – hence the “Merchant Circle” name. Other features on the current, pre-beta version have been more come-and-go.
President and CEO Ben Smith, a Rustic Canyon entrepreneur in residence (who co-founded Spoke Software with Chris Tolles of Topix), told Local Onliner that everything’s in flux prior to the June launch. “It is all about testing. It is not close to being done. We are constantly revising. There is lots of new stuff coming for launch in June and then a second wave in late June.” But some basic goals have been established. “The milestone here is to get 20 percent of merchants” in a community, said Smith.