Monday Oct 29, 2012 by Susan Johnston - Contributor, VentureFizz
As advertising increasingly moves from print to online and mobile, small to medium-sized businesses need an efficient way to make that transition. “If you look at a small business, they’re overwhelmed with what they’re managing already,” says Jeff Peden. In response to that pain point, Peden founded Cambridge-based mobile software technology company CraveLabs in December 2011.
After Peden’s first startup, which tracked assets in healthcare, was acquired by Trapeze Networks in December 2008, he says, “I decided I wanted to play in a different sandbox.” That sandbox was mobile marketing for small local businesses, a class of business “that’s basically been forgotten over the last two decades as we push further into technology,” as he puts it.
“I started looking at what happens when you’re a mobile user,” he says. “If we know who you are and what you’re interested in, we can push more interesting and relevant information to you.”
Based out of Dogpatch Labs, CraveLabs is bootstrapped at the moment (and was a finalist for the 2012 MITX Best “Bootstrap” Innovation Award), although Peden says they have some new developments in the works.
CraveLabs’ product is a white-label solution targeted to local media and local media publishers. “We provide the technical backend for a publisher like a Boston Globe or Gannett,” explains Peden. “Traditionally businesses have advertised largely through print and other forms of traditional media. There’s been this barrier as this readership has moved away from carrying the paper folded under their arm. This enables the local media publishers to reconnect with their local small to medium-sized businesses.”
The product also simplifies advertising for the business-owner by pulling information from the business’ Facebook page. “Seventy percent of small local biz have a Facebook presence that they’re actively managing, with one thousand or so fans,” explains Peden. “We extend the reach of that campaign and carry that through to, say, Boston.com on the smartphone. That’ll appear as an ad. It’s a locally focused, timely and super-relevant ad.”
According to Peden, “there are about 12 million of these businesses that have no cost effective form of advertising but if you look at what they historically spend, they’re spending in print largely, which is declining in effectiveness. Just within mobile advertising, we’re looking at $4 billion a year by 2016.”
After a six-month pilot, CraveLabs is relaunching with several media partners and plans to expand into other markets. “We’re onboarding customers here with our channel partners in Boston and looking to other cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.,” says Peden.