October 28, 2012

CraveLabs Connects Publishers with Small to Medium-Sized Businesses

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, 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.  

Susan Johnston is a journalist and contributor to VentureFizz.  You can follow Susan on Twitter (@UrbanMuseWriter) by clicking here.