Mom and pop pizzerias love – and I mean love — the mobile Web. Why? There’s a feature embedded in many of their sites called click-to-call that allows a hungry, and quite possibly stoned, mobile surfer to initiate a phone order directly from the Webpage. According to Duda Mobile, which has helped hundreds of local pizzerias go online, the take up rate on click-to-call is nearly 35 percent.
Duda is bringing hundreds of thousands of small-and medium-sized businesses to the mobile Web, giving food trucks and haute cuisine joints, attorneys and dentists, their first taste of the mobile Internet and a means for their customers to find them on their phones.
We last reported on Duda when Google tapped the Silicon Valley/Israeli startup to power its Go Mo program, which will optimize any Website for mobile and host it for a year at no charge. But the company has also licensed its service to AT&T, HP, Yahoo and Webs.com, leading to enormous growth in its business. Last August it was hosting less 100,000 sites. Now it’s up 1.65 million, CMO Dennis Mink said.
A good portion of those sites are in the personal rather than the small business category. Duda will allow any user to throw a free but ad-supported mobile-optimized version of their Website online, so anyone wanting to optimize their 100 greatest Baywatch moments tribute page or Twilight fan fiction portal can easily do so. Duda’s primary customers, though, are the ones that either pay $9 a month — or come through Go Mo — to access its premium features.
It beats advertising on public benches
Including pizzerias, restaurants are Duda’s biggest customers, accounting for 28 percent of its premium sites. Duda recently began direct integration with Open Table, allowing the more sophisticated set to place reservations directly from the mobile browser – rather than just order up delivery with click-to-call.
Food trucks, which already depend heavily on social media to bring in customers, have also begun to use the service, Mink said. For instance, Brooklyn’s Mexicue uses a Duda mobile site to broadcast its trucks’ current location, to point people to its Twitter and Facebook accounts and to detail its current menu.
Professional services makes up the next biggest category, encompassing locksmiths, plumbers and a whole lot of lawyers, Mink said. Health and Wellness businesses account for 10 percent of its sites. About half of those are beauty salons and spas, but a good portion of the remaining chunk are doctors and dentists.
“For service professionals, they want phone calls,” Mink said. “If you’re a lawyer or a dentist, that’s how you build your livelihood.”
Another major category is travel and tourism, which is dominated by small, privately owned hotels and B&Bs, Mink said. The logic here is that when people are on the road they often don’t have an easy way to access a computer. Having a mobile site is therefore key to landing last-minute business.
What Duda can’t do (but is working on)
Duda’s site builder does have some limitations. It’s not building new and distinct mobile pages for its customers. Rather it automatically plugs content from their full Websites into template pages optimized for the mobile browser. The approach may not be as slick as a custom-designed mobile Website, but it has its advantages, Mink said. It’s cheap, and you can get a mobile Web presence up within minutes. It’s also easier to manage, since any update you make to the full site is automatically reflected in the mobile version.
That said, more sophisticated features don’t carry over to the microbrowser. For the hotel and B&B sites, for instance, it’s a simple button push to call the front desk, but if you try to access their online booking features, you’re taken to a full PC browser page, which is difficult to use on a small screen. Duda also can’t carry over in-site e-commerce features, which explains the dearth of e-retail businesses among its customers.
But Mink said Duda is solving many of those problems through partnerships. Its integration with Open Table allows restaurants to book digital reservations. And it just reached an agreement with eBay to mobilize its ProStores customers retail sites, though it charges more for the feature (a $99 one-time setup fee and a $20 monthly subscription).
Duda has raised $8.4 million since its founding in 2009. Its latest Series B round brought in $6 million and was led by Pitango, Israel’s largest venture capital firm. While the company was founded in Tel Aviv, it is now based in Mountain View, Calif.