Red Beacon, one of the new breed of social/local leads providers for SMBs, said it is now available throughout the entire Bay Area and teaming up with BigTent, a mega-moms network in the Bay Area with more than 100 local cells. BigTent will receive a revenue share carved from Red Beacon’s 10 percent commission.
The deal between BigTent and Red Beacon positions the company not only against Yellow Pages and other newbreed leads providers (i.e. ServiceMagic, AlikeList, HelpHive, ThumbTack and Sears’ ServiceLive) but also against other sites that specifically tailor to moms (and women generally). These include sites such as Angie’s List and Center’d. It plays on the theory that some women are intimidated by home and trade professionals and may be more likely to seek out a social network for advice and recommendations.
For BigTent, the partnership marks the first time it has partnered with an organization to promote local businesses. It had previously worked deals with a number of national brands.
The BigTent news caps off a campaign to land associations and other organizations as partners. The results of the effort means that the site now boasts listings of 16,000 service pros with the badges of their organizations – a major trust factor. One of the key prizes has been the local branch of the Better Business Bureau, which previously hadn’t loaned out its list.
In other site developments, Red Beacon, which won the top prize as best new idea at TechCrunch 50 six months ago, is adding “Friendly Advice.” The feature lets friends comment on job bids (and the bidders). This complements the company’s matching engine, and reviews and ratings found on other parts of the site — including both positive and negative reviews.
“We’re crowd-sourcing recommendations and sharing,” says CEO Ethan Anderson. One added benefit is the viral element and the added exposure for Red Beacon: 500 views may become 2,500, he says.
Anderson notes that the company has been in a constant state of “iteration” since launching, and will only begin the process of raising money when it is satisfied with the end product. So far, the site has added several features, such as enabling private communications between consumers and providers in the middle of a bid; and allowing providers to additional information upon request. “Consumers need lots of information to make a decision,” he says. The site has also syndicated reviews from Yelp, Google and Yahoo to complement its own.
One milestone reached by the site is that it can now successfully furnish a quote for every job that is bid. In fact, it had over 1,000 service providers almost immediately after launch, and continues to rapidly grow its base. “We don’t have a chicken or egg problem,” says Anderson. “Signing up (service providers) has been easy.”
Red Beacon CEO Ethan Anderson will join AlikeList CEO Jim Delli Santi and Reply.com COO Sean Fox on the “SMB Marketplaces” panel at Marketplaces 2010. ServiceMagic CEO Craig Smith is a keynoter at the conference.