I admit, I’m surprised. The idea is that Redbeacon will amass a directory full of small businesses (gardeners, maids, and personal trainers to start, they say) and allow customers to book appointments online while reading reviews and whatnot.
Great! The problem is, how are you going to get Joe the Plumber to sign up? By calling him and doing direct sales? How about the other 20 million small businesses in the US?
They plan on rolling out in San Francisco first, which is smart, because it will allow them to quickly realize how impossible it is to reach gardeners and maids and convince them to sign up for an internet service. Not to be crass or mean, but how many gardeners and maids do you think are internet savvy enough to discover a new internet startup? How many are proficient English speakers?
The company is founded by a bunch of ex-Googlers, which sounds nice until you think about how poorly Google tends to do community and small business plays.
I wish them luck. If I were them, I would try and do a deal with YellowPages.com or something - someone who has already amassed hundreds of thousands of small businesses (using their 5000 person sales teams) - and do a revshare on the lead gen fees (if that’s the revenue model).