Tag Archives: Mojopages

MojoPages Adds ‘MojoAwards’ Game

MojoPages started as a Yelp-like directory of local businesses. For the past year and a half, the San Diego-based company has focused on building a distribution network of 1,400 sites, mostly consisting of radio, TV and newspaper sites. Its revenue has come from search-related advertising.

The directory business, which competes against the likes of Local.com, CityVoter, Ellington and others, has been growing traffic at ten percent a month for some time, and positioned the company for venture capital. Its last round was for $5 million, and the company has now raised $7 million in all.

But now the site is adding to the directory “Mojo Awards,” a new games model that CEO Jon Carder hopes will bring a little of the fun mentality around FourSquare into the SMB sector. A “best of the city” approach, MojoAwards is a year-long contest that lets consumers vote on favorite businesses – and for businesses to promote the content – and Mojo.

Every week, a different category will be highlighted, sometimes with topicality. This week, for instance, Tax Prep will be highlighted. Top companies will be highlighted.

Businesses that receive favorable rankings are ranked in terms of their popularity, which is aggregated and weighted into a single graph. Carder believes the graph is much more illustrative than star systems, which are typically one dimensional.The site, which provides ratings and reviews from Yelp, Google, Yahoo, Citysearch and others, as well as its own, is also developing Trust rankings for raters from certain-approved sites.

Carder says the highlighting of Mojo Awards brings to the SMB/Directory space some of the “check in” and “get involved” feeling of some of the hot social sites, which typically focus on entertainment and dining. Ultimately, it should also boost partner revenues from advertising, as Mojo, which doesn’t charge for licensing, provides a promotional package for advertisers.

Revenues are shared with local media partners, which receive local exclusivity, and support. MojoPages hopes that the revenue share and promotion provides enough inventive for TV station personalities, for instance, to plug the contest and results on the nightly news and other programs throughout the day.

MojoPages Lands $5 Million; Pushes Local Affiliation Strategy

MojoPages, a 12 person local search/directory player based in the San Diego beach town of Solana Beach , has landed $5 Million in Series A funding from Austin Ventures. Mojo has settled on $5 million as the amount it needs to get to breakeven on a cash flow basis, says CEO Jon Carder, who founded the company in 2007 after he got “ripped off” by some movers and wanted to build a local ratings and review site.

Carder notes that Austin Ventures was introduced to the company by longtime industry vets Jeff Stibel of Web.com and Dan Finnigan of Jobvite, who previously lead local efforts with Yahoo, Knight Ridder and Pacific Bell. Both had been Mojo angels. Altogether, Carder says that angels have put in about $1 million in the company, while he has put in about $500,000.

The company itself has been in the middle of transition. Shortly after launching, Carder says it began to move away from its initial focus on being a destination site. It had become quickly apparent that destination sites require lots of community interaction and there are already major entrenched players in the space, such as Yelp and Citysearch.

Today, the company includes a bevy of content sources, including reviews from CitySearch and Insider Pages. But it is primarily a traffic aggregator “generating tons of traffic,” says Carder. While community development efforts will continue to be supported, a small company has to focus on one thing or the other, he says. And fast, relevant and linked search wins out.

Part of the strategy going forward is to power local search for local media companies, basically charging a CPM rate of around $8. Already, the company has deals with a number of TV and radio outlets, including Salem Broadcasting, Tritan Digital, Belo Corp. and KSMB in San Diego. It also has advanced field trials with “the largest” newspaper, TV and radio players, says Carder. The signup efforts have been marked by aggressive sponsorship of San Diego-area industry events for newspapers, TV and radio stations, Yellow Pages and geo-domain sites.

Efforts with the site should heat up further in September when a new version of the site is released. At that time, prior efforts at community, including large urban parties sponsored by advertisers, will be de-emphasized in favor of the new focus on search. They were fun, but barely break-even, say Carder.

Today’s MojoPages news has coincided with several recent announcements from Local.com, which is probably Mojo’s most direct competitor in vying for local search contracts via its white label division, formerly known as PremierGuide.com (Other competitors include Localeze and business directory products from Travidia and HarvestInfo. Several other companies have either folded up or been acquired).

Local.com recently signed two major Belo newspapers: The Dallas Morning News and The Riverside Press-Enterprise. It has also secured a window of $10 million in new credit, secured by assets, that could be used for acquisitions.