December 5, 2016

How Pingup's Quick Pivot Helped Drive Today's Impressive Growth

You don't need me to tell you that the on-demand economy has taken off - and all signs point to it being here to stay. As new services and platforms enter the market everyday, consumers are growing to expect this kind of experience with businesses.

But for small, local businesses - your barbershop or the pizza place around the corner - offering on-demand experiences can be difficult to implement. Enter Pingup, a Boston-based transaction platform for local businesses that lets consumers schedule services and order food directly from a publisher network, using call to action buttons and bots. Pingup takes care of the heavy lifting for businesses, letting them attract a broader range of consumers from whatever platform they're searching in.

Pingup has seen some impressive results as of late, reporting an 11x increase on average daily transactions among other noteable milestones. The company also recently announced their integration with Facebook Pages. To learn more about its growth, I caught up with Pingup founder and CEO Mark Slater, and the company's CMO Dan Gilmartin. Read more in our interview below.

Kaite Rosa: Tell me the backstory on Pingup.

Mark Slater: The company was founded in 2011, and the mission was to shorten the distance between businesses and consumers. We looked at how people communicate with businesses - primarily via phone at the time - and concluded there was a more efficient way.

Initially, we built a platform to initiate a chat session, similar to WhatsApp or Facebook messenger. We went down that path, raised VC and learned that, one, the vast majority of people chatting with businesses just wanted to book or order something, not chit chat, and two, businesses were using software to manage business services. So we pivoted in 2014.

KR: What did that pivot look like?

MS: We decided we could solve some of the distance shortening challenge with a programmatic approach. We now integrate with scheduling providers and ordering solutions to present users with a way to order or book an appointment [with businesses].

We sought to partner with the publishing world - sites where people were reviewing businesses. Our goal was to create booking or ordering buttons on these platforms.

KR: And what kind of traction have you started to see as a result?

MS: A year ago, we started to see lots of traction on both sides. We have 20 current integrations on the supply [business] side, and partner with seven publishers now. We’ve started to see lots of accelerants, in terms of the the amount of transactions and publishers showing interest.

We’ve had a huge amount of acceleration. Traffic, transactions, and revenue has been growing 40 percent a month for the last year.

KR: Dan, I know you recently joined the team as CMO. What are you focusing on?

Dan Gilmartin: I’m focusing on optimizing the traffic coming in from partners. As the consumer discovers the CTA or Book It button, they come into our experience. I am optimizing that flow to improve conversion rates. I’m also spending time on the placement of the call to action.

Customers desire contextually oriented transactions. When someone goes to a site - maybe they’re looking for a haircut or ordering food - the search engines desire that if you click a book it button, the experience keeps you in a contextual environment.

The engines desire that, but the consumers desire it too. They’re looking for something that’s fast. A quick way to get through booking process. For the consumer to come in and click the button, select the service, date, and time, and then check out, it makes the process super fast for them to get along with their other daily activities.

We’re focused on improving that experience across the board.


Kaite Rosa is the former Director of Content & Marketing at VentureFizz. Follow her on Twitter: @KaiteRosa
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