Seeing a cab driver or a corner store owner whip out a cell phone with a white Square reader on top is always a great reminder that even in our increasingly high-tech world, plenty of small, local businesses are just now entering the modern world of e-commerce. They might not be the easiest customers to acquire, but small businesses with heavy daily traffic can still be pretty untapped markets when it comes to implementing tech-oriented business products and strategies.
LocBox is a Bay-area startup announcing funding on Wednesday with the goal of bringing modern marketing practices to small businesses in service industries, making it easy for store owners and entrepreneurs to send updates via social media and manage brand pages across the web. Because when it comes to digital marketing, the divide exists as well. A software startup might have no problem navigating a Facebook fan page or a Twitter account, but a local hair salon owner might need more help.
LocBox, which launched about a year ago, raised a $5.1 Series A funding round a few months ago from InterWest Partners, Accel Partners, Google Ventures and 500 Startups, following a seed round they raised last year. Keval Desai, a partner with InterWest and former product director at Google and VP of product at Digg, will join LocBox’s Board of Directors. They also recieved funding from notable angel investors, like Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan, founders of Kosmix (see disclosure below.)
CEO Saumil Mehta began working on LocBox after leaving his position as the director of product at Kosmix, right before it was acquired by WalMart. Mehta began talking to local businesses during the AngelPad winter 2011 class, and he said he soon realized the demand for a simple, inexpensive hub for a company’s entire marketing campaign.
“It was very clear to me that there was a big gaping hole,” he said.
LocBox, which has graduated pricing depending on the size and scope of the company, gives users a dashboard from which they can publish updates to feeds like Twitter or Facebook, send out mass emails and texts, and publish Groupon-esque daily deals with a simple payment platform. Mehta said the product already has good traction, and their customers number in the “low to mid-hundreds in terms of actual customers,” and they’ve run about 2,000 campaigns for those clients. Mehta said the new funding will be used to grow the business, which relies mainly on a sales staff to reach out to potential clients.
Disclosure: Venky Harianrayan and Anand Rajaraman are both investors in Giga Omni Media, the parent company of this blog.