A few announcements and news items caught our eye this week. Here is our quick take on each.
Google Expands Tools to Helps SMBs Survive Crisis
According to TechCrunch, Google has offered an expanded set of tools to help SMBs generate more revenue during the lockdowns.
One notable feature is that restaurants will now be able to indicate through GMB which delivery app they prefer consumers use. This gives restaurants at least a modicum of power in an escalating battle with aggregates like DoorDash and UberEats, which have gained considerable leverage over restaurants since the lockdowns.
Google also added a new feature allowing SMBs to add a link to their listings promoting donations and gift card sales. Many small businesses have promoted gift cards to bring cash in today against future delivery.
Google will also offer GMB verified businesses the ability to send alerts that they are operating in a different mode, for example, moving to virtual service delivery, offering curbside pick up and so on.
Google is one of many companies in the local ecosystem launching new or fast-tracking products in development to adapt to the new demands of the COVID environment. Localogy has published a new members-only briefing on this topic called, “Pivoting with Agility: The New Product Cycle.”
SOCi Lands Another Platform of Record Deal
Across the country, most food establishments remain closed or are limited to take out and delivery. This elevates the importance of effectively communicating with customers. This is a particularly challenging task for franchises.
SOCi’s most recent Localized Marketing Benchmarking Report found that 97% of consumers conduct a local online search before making a purchasing decision. And 85% of the engagement happens on local pages, e.g., Facebook, Yelp, and so on.
“As businesses around the country operate in limited capacity, it’s crucial that updates about changes in hours, menu availability or delivery are communicated to customers. Now, more than ever, Nekter needed a reliable solution like SOCi to effectively reach customers across multiple locations,” Monica Ho, CMO of SOCi told Localogy Insider. “We’re excited to work with a fast-growing company like Nekter to help them streamline their localized strategy when it matters most.”
Nékter, which has 170 locations and plans for another 186, has hired SOCI to streamline its localized strategy. This includes local listings, landing pages, social and reputation management, and social advertising across all the major social platforms.
“By bringing SOCi onboard, Nékter will be able to more efficiently reach customers on a local level during a time when effective communication matters most,” said Steve Schulze, Co-Founder, and CEO at Nékter, in a statement. “And as our group of franchisees continues to grow, SOCi’s franchise-friendly, easy-to-use platform is exactly what we need to support unified marketing campaigns across all of our markets.”
End of an Era at SurePath Captial
We received the news this week that former Freshbooks CFO Mark MacLeod is winding down SurePath Capital Partners, an investment advisory firm that he formed in 2015 to focus exclusively on the SMB software industry. It was a good run for SurePath, but these are not robust times for SMB SaaS dealmaking.
So Mark is taking the opportunity to exit SurePath and move into investing and executive coaching, something he describes as a more natural fit for him than banking.
Here’s how Mark describes it in an email announcing the decision.
“For better or worse, COVID delivered a ‘do-over’ opportunity. Buyers and investors hit pause. Deal flow slowed down to a trickle,” he wrote. “I knew that if I was going to ever make the change that now was the time. Still, this was a difficult decision. One that would impact not just me, but my team members and our clients. We could have just waited for markets to return. Working through it though, I knew in my heart that it was the right call.”
Mark said SurePath has one remaining deal in progress. After it closes he will wind down the investment banking business and transition into executive coaching and advising.
One thing we hope will outlive SurePath is its SMB Software Index. This quarterly report is a great resource for monitoring deal activity in the SMB software space.
Mark elaborates on his decision in very personal terms in this blog post.
SMB Workers Comp Provider Raises $127 Million
Pie Insurance, a company that provides SMBs with an automated workers comp insurance solution, has raised $127 million, according to CrunchBase. This round brings the company’s funding total to $188 million since it launched in 2017.
Pie was one of the first companies to offer online purchase of workers comp insurance policies. The company plans to use the new funds for a few distinct purposes.
First, the company will earmark $27 million to continue developing its automated insurance offering for small businesses. The company will apply the remaining $100 million to set up a new holding company that will acquire licensed insurance companies.