“If only there were a way to see what’s going on in [insert your city here] right now, without driving, parking, walking around, calling local stores or visiting dozens of websites…”
BlockBeacon was born from a simple observation and a real-life problem that needed solving. The hyper-local world was disconnected, making multiple parts of our daily lives much more inefficient than need be. While we’ve come to enjoy dozens of products that connect us seamlessly to our friends, family, influencers, charities and global brands, we had no good way to discover and connect with the restaurants, retailers and other businesses that comprise our local communities. It became clear to us that, with the right combination of social media tools, geo-enabled mobile phones, email and SMS, we could connect with these local businesses in a useful and efficient way. We then set out to build the first platform architected to enable and facilitate this connection: BlockBeacon.
Like any startup, we first aimed to prove that a problem actually existed – that we were addressing a true “pain point” and not simply building a product that seemed fun to work on. The most interesting and rewarding part of our discovery process was learning that we were actually simultaneously addressing TWO pain points, both very real, and validated in hundreds of market research interviews and conversations.
From the consumer perspective, was the observation that there’s no way to find out what’s going on at local businesses without walking around, asking friends, or calling businesses directly. Of course, there are other products out there that address components of this problem indirectly. Foursquare tells you where your friends have been recently, Groupon Now lets you purchase coupons from nearby businesses, and other event sites give you a monthly calendar view of activities in your city. Yet, no one seemed to be addressing this pain point directly, in a scalable way.
The flipside of the coin was perhaps more eye opening. We met with owners and managers of over 200 local businesses in our own backyard of Santa Monica, California to learn how they market to and build relationships with local customers. Our findings were even more surprising than we could’ve imagined. The most frequently cited “marketing tools” included: monthly email newsletters with incredibly low open rates; a nearly static website built years ago by a family friend; and (gasp) in-store signage, such as chalkboards and hand-written signs. It was clear that local merchants were due for an upgrade to their marketing arsenal…
After several months of validation that there is a need for a product to address these pain points, our mission and vision began to take shape. Simply put, BlockBeacon’s mission is to connect local businesses and local consumers when their needs and wants match.
We are the only website and mobile application that provides consumers with a live-view of exactly what local businesses have to offer TODAY. We simultaneously provide local merchants with an easy way to publish real-time specials and marketing messages directly to our maps and apps. No purchase required, no waiting whatsoever.
In a couple short months since our launch here in Santa Monica, the response has been nothing short of amazing. We have hundreds of local businesses using our platform in various ways, and have powered some of the most high-profile dining-related events in Southern California, including dineLA Restaurant Week, Orange County Restaurant Week, Pasadena Restaurant Week, the BuyLocal Weekend in Santa Monica and more. Not only that, we’ve been embraced by our very own Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce as one of their favorite products to connect and stimulate the local economy. Our short-term plans now also include rolling out to several major West-coast cities with the support of their own local governments and city organizations. It’s a win-win-win for local consumers, local businesses and the city and governmental organizations supporting them….and people are taking notice!
Many, many more updates to come, but for now we’d love for you to poke around our website, find somewhere awesome to grab lunch or enjoy a happy hour, tell a few friends about us and send along any feedback you have (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you’re in the Santa Monica area look for any of our 9 team members bouncing around the 3rd Street Promenade in our Team BlockBeacon t-shirts, and don’t be a stranger!
Cofounder and CEO, BlockBeacon Inc.