Finder411 Entered in Female Startup Competition

I”m pretty pumped to be included in April’s Grow America Competition.

Open only to Startups owned or co-owned by a chick (that’s me), it’s a great opportunity to share Finder411’s mission with the greater community and educate folks on how remarkable a difference we can make quickly in the lives of Triangle small business and our greater Raleigh and Durham communities.Vote for me!

The other HUGE piece?

Finder411 could very well win $5,000, and along with it phenomenal exposure.  The other great part?  We’d find out in May if we win – no waiting months and months, we’d get that cash infusion quickly – SWEET!

What would we do with it? If Finder411 won a cash prize, these are some of the things we’d likely implement:

  • Paid Press Releases for more Finder411 client awareness
  • Create a successful go-to-market strategy to increase Finder411 exposure in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill & surrounding areas, thus increasing traffic to our current clients.
  • Invest in additional development and graphics for our future mobile app
  • Offer deep discounts to very small businesses who have no marketing budget

Small local businesses make all our communities rock.

  1. They keep more money in our local economy.
  2. They offer unique alternatives to national chains
  3. Most importantly offering a level of personal service you will never see with a big name store or service.

Please take a few seconds to vote NOW and DAILY through April 30th!

We’ll keep you posted!

Tonia
Tonia Zampieri

Local Craft Breweries Help Raleigh/Durham Local Business Boom

With the help of the North Carolina Division of Tourism, April is now officially known as NC Beer Month.  And why not?  In my 7-ish years of living here I’ver personally witnessed the explosion of growth in the selection of local craft beers throughout our state, particularly here in the greater Raleigh/Durham region.  It’s responsible for about 5 lbs around my middle..thanks….

What is Agribusiness?  Breweries for one.

For a state like ours struggling with how to rebound from the economic crisis, as many have been, I’m thrilled to see the number of agribusinesses popping up. What is an agribusiness? Loosely defined it’s created and sustained through food and crop production.   NC breweries use wheat, hops, and barley to produce magic in a bottle.  I like watching it made but I’ll stick with the testing – thanks!

Bigger Triangle Celebration?

Yes indeed, everyone loves the opportunity to celebrate (and yes consume) their favorite beers – our bigger victory lies in how much our beloved craft brewers are drawing visitors – visitors with lots ‘o tourism dollars.  Not only do Raleigh/Durham area breweries win – ALL of the Triangle’s local independent businesses win, especially eateries and retail!

Small, Local Breweries + Triangle = Awesomeness

In honor of the state’s first every NC Beer Month and to thank Triangle area brewery owners for following your passions to all our benefit, our local start-up Finder411 has a special offer for Triangle area Breweries.NC Beer Month

Finder411 is the “people’s platform”.  Part social community, part online directory, users will find only locally owned and operated businesses and those of us who love and want to enrich our lives with them.  Best part?  Finder411, unlike many forms of online marketing,  is NOT going to put you in the poor house.

We’ve started here in our back yard, the Triangle, but will expand to the entire state and eventually who knows where?  We’re confident our Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill community will drive the growing “think & act local” concept to great heights.

Beer-Lovers Booty:

Here’s a list of ongoing brewery tours and Beer Month Events for every taste out there.

For those on the Twitter. I’ve listed all Triangle-area breweries that I’m aware of (If I’ve missed any, please alert & I’ll add!):

@RaleighBrewing
@FootHillsBeer (in Triad but makes my favorite beer Hoppium so I must)
@fullsteam
@Loneriderbeer
@BigBossBeer
@CarolinaBrewing
@AviatorBrew
@BullCityBurger
@MysteryBrewing
@Natty_Greenes
@TriangleBrewing
@WhiteStreetBrew

For you craft beer loving Instagramer’s have at this one:
@VisitNC Instagram contest for #NCBeerMonth

And lastly, this downtown Raleigh event on April 27th is a MUST-go!  Will I see you there?

Our special offer is also open to any locally owned Triangle Area pub or restaurant who proudly serves NC craft beer.  Email Beer@Finder411.com for full details.  Offer open through April 30th so don’t delay!  Contact me, Co-Founder and self-professed IPA Fanatic Tonia Zampieri at the email above or via twitter @Finder411

Tonia

Tonia Zampieri

~ Tonia

Today’s Small Business Owners Need More Than Passion

Perhaps that story goes a little like this: You were laid off from your corporate job or you just got tired of “working for the man.” You realized that there’s no better time than now to go after your dream of owning your own boutique, donut shop, yoga studio, or whatever your business passion may be. You know it will take a lot of work, but at least you will no longer be punching someone else’s clock and you’ll be doing something that you really care about. You take out a small loan and make it happen. And then the real work begins.

Frenzied Business OwnerYou’ve gotten off the ground, but now you have to get people in the door. You are already committing 110% of yourself to the day-to-day operations of keeping your business going; now you have websites to update, social media to engage in, emails to answer, advertising to list, and review sites to worry about. You start getting calls from national online directories, internet marketing companies, and review sites telling you that they can deliver lots of traffic through advertising and consulting services to your website and business. Of course, that comes with price tag of hundreds, even thousands of dollars a month!

But what other options do you have? Let’s think about this:

  1. You have your network of family and friends who can help you with some online word-of-mouth promotions
  2. Perhaps a couple of ads in the local weekly newspaper
  3. If you know enough about creating an online presence to start your own social media sites and maybe even a blog, you have that advantage, but who has the time to commit to those platforms much less use them effectively?

And then you have the national online review and advertising sites – that, while geo-targeted, offer little by way of online word-of-mouth – simply reliant on a ‘click-through’ to walk-in conversion.  While they promise reach and results, “it’s gonna cost you!Finder411 Simplify

It’s stories like this that lead us to create Finder411.

We are an online community platform exclusively for small businesses and those who want to support and endorse them at the local level. Offering the ability for deep consumer engagement, social sharing, and personalized small business stories.  Finder411 will bring significant value to locally-minded consumers and those small businesses that are the backbone of each local community.

We would love to have you as a part of Finder411.   Let us share with you how we can help effectively increase your business without breaking the bank.  Finder411, where we celebrate small local businesses.

Our Triangle launch is scheduled for late Spring 2013.

Finder411, The People’s Platform, gains momentum for Spring Launch

Premium Basic ProfileFinder411 is being built as “the people’s platform”, an online community and resource directory exclusively where those who care about the hyper-local movement can find needed and sought after small businesses.  Ones that add variety, fun, and ease to their lives.

As we steamroll towards a Triangle, NC spring launch, we recently sent out Finder411’s latest profile page mockups and a survey to gauge people’s taste’s on what they thought and how they might engage with our site.  Here’s what some people had to say:

  • 70% of respondents said they’d have no problem logging in with Facebook (in fact 1 wanted to log in with Twitter), and understood the value of having their own profile to save and share their favorite small businesses.
  • 100% of respondents found the site’s pictures engaging versus distracting.
  • One person commented:  I’d love love love more pictures!

Premium Plus ProfileWhile pictures are one of the biggest features that set Finder411 apart from other big name “online directories”, one person commented, “the pictures appeared dead and not vibrant enough to help in stimulating business.”

We certainly get that and will do our best when we launch to include more pictures of people engaged with the business whenever possible to illicit more engagement.

What do you think of Finder411?  Take our quick survey and let us know your feedback.

Want to stay in the know & get extra perks as a Finder411 Founder ? Sign up here.  We are capping this at 50 people prior to our May launch. Don’t delay!

Finder411 Tackles Hyperlocal Movement

Small business owners, this one’s for you. Most of you can probably relate.

Are you tired of those “big name” directory-type websites? You know the ones. They can kind of be compared to a schoolyard playground. Full of gossip, with kids (online reviewers) talking about all kinds of different things (experiences at your business).  Some of it may be true, other things, grossly exaggerated or even completely fabricated.  But what do the people hearing it know? They just go by what strangers have to say.

Some of these reviewers are like the bullies, picking on anything and everything, taking one little thing they perceive as negative and blowing it up way out of proportion. On these websites, as the victim of a terrible review, a small business can do little to defend itself.  Maybe if you’re lucky, a loyal customer or two will speak up and defend you, but one bad online review has the potential to do some damage. Collect a number of them, it can totally break you.

On these “big name” sites, a small business may not even be aware that they have a profile where people are writing these reviews. Anyone can create one for a business, leaving it totally out of your power. To top it off, these websites often barrage you with phone calls, asking you to pay to advertize yourself for obscene amounts of money that no small local business can easily afford. It’s worse than many telemarketers! At least they usually stop once you decline the offer. Check out a small business owner’s opinion on one of these sites here. (http://darrenslaughter.com/the-angies-list-unreview-or-why-i-hate-angies-list-for-contractors/)

Finder411 is Different

Finder411 completely reverses this model – making it more a popularity contest than a rant session.  Here, you aren’t at the mercy of fake reviews or negative rants. You create your own business profile (or pay us a nominal fee to do it for you), grow engagement with those interested in your business and cultivate a loyal fan base.  With free or premium subscription levels for added bells and whistles, it’s truly an inclusive community.  Finder411 Homepage

High-paid advertising business models aren’t sustainable and definitely aren’t good in the long run for small businesses. Groupon is a prime example. Shares at Groupon dropped by 26% and its forecast revenue was much lower than predicted. This article explains it better than we can.  (http://www.dailydealmedia.com/what-groupons-wall-street-implosion-means-for-daily-deals/ )

Finder411 is different from both a cost and customer acquisition perspective. Customers will be able to “like” your business’ Facebook page from within your Finder411 profile.

They’ll also be able to “love” your profile on our site, share it with others through social media, and add their favorite small businesses to their individual profiles on Finder411 for ongoing use and safekeeping.

At Finder411, we won’t be pushing you to pay for advertising either. In fact, our model is COMPLETELY ad-free.   No one using Finder411, whether you’re a small business owner or supporter, will ever see an ad of any kind.  We think that’s pretty refreshing. Don’t you agree?

Launching in the Triangle, NC in May, Finder411 is offering introductory beta pricing for a select number of small local businesses.

Don’t miss this opportunity to join today’s hyperlocal answer to supporting awesome local businesses:  http://finder411.com/launch_special – intro pricing guaranteed through April 5th.

Blast Off! NC Small Business “Love” Contest Launches

Show Some Love ContestoIt’s February, and what better time to show some love.  For small businesses, that is!

Today marks the beginning of our “Show Some Love” contest at Finder411. There’s no doubt that the small businesses in our North Carolina communities could use support and help in building awareness for all they do to make our communities worth living in or visiting.
But where will the love shine the most?

  • Asheville?
  • Charlotte?
  • Raleigh & Durham?
  • Wilmington?
  • Greensboro & Winston-Salem?

We challenge each and every one of you to show some love by representing your small business community.

People like:

  • Your favorite interior decorator, who comes to start a new project in your home and practically reads your mind when she makes suggestions probably doesn’t have a huge budget for advertising those killer instincts.
  • That tiny café down the road that always offers free samples of its latest homemade dessert creations likely relies on word-of-mouth promotion to keep new customers coming.
  • Your favorite family farm whose lush berry patches offer up fun memories each year you visit with your kids.

This is where you, someone devoted to shopping locally, can help!  Give a shout out by nominating your favorite small business in our “Show Some Love” contest. If you have more than one favorite (and you probably do!) you can nominate one each day of the contest, which runs through March 12th.  Repeat nominations are accepted as well. Ipad Mini

One grand prize winner will receive an iPad mini. Our seven business finalists, 1 from each category below, will be awarded a 1-year premium membership at Finder411. One grand prize business winner will win a Lifetime* Finder411 membership!

Visit Finder411’s Facebook page or the contest page directly to nominate a business in one of these categories:

1. Home Related – Real estate, custom blinds, plumbers, landscapers, interior designers and similar.

2. Agribusinesses – Wineries, farms, orchards, B&Bs.

3. Restaurants – Anything but franchises or chains.

4. Retail Stores – Anything independent. Multiple locations are allowed, but no big box chains or franchises.

5. Personal Care – Hair, skin or body care. (No tanning salons)

6. Professional Services – Law, accounting, photography, bands, DJs, event planning, pet sitting, catering and similar.

7. Health-related – Physical fitness, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors and similar.

Valid entries consist of nominating a qualifying North Carolina business, providing a valid email address, and be a United States resident who is 18 or older.

To “Spread the Love” further please share this contest with your circle. You can also read a recent blog to get the skinny on what our Finder411 vision is.

Small is the new big,

Your Finder411 Team

*For contest purposes, Lifetime is defined as 25 years. See complete contest rules for details.

NC Contest Showing Small Business Love

Show Some Love ContestoAt Finder411, we’re certainly all about small businesses. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to start things big! Our “Show Some Love” contest is coming February 6th!

So what’s all this love you’re supposed to show? Love for your favorite small business.

  • That restaurant where the waitress has your usual order in and cooking before you even make it to the table.
  • The plumber that’s out of bed and at your door at 1 a.m. to stop the fountain that mysteriously sprung from your basement ceiling.
  • That one little retail store where everything in it feels like it’s tailor-made to fit your quirky tastes.

“Show Some Love” gives you the chance to nominate your favorite North Carolina small business by visiting our Facebook page to enter. Have more than one? We thought so. While you’re only allowed one entry per day, you can enter on multiple days to spread as much love as possible!

Since this is a contest, by now you’re probably wondering what the reward will be. One lucky person will win a new iPad mini (because we’re all for small, of course!). Small businesses aren’t left out of the benefits either. One small business in North Carolina will become a Finder411 lifetime premium business partner, which includes a professional photo shoot and featured profile on our site.

Qualifying businesses include any of the following:

  1. Home Related – Real estate, custom blinds, plumbers, landscapers, interior designers and similar.
  2. Agribusinesses – Wineries, farms, orchards, B&Bs.
  3. Eateries – Restaurants, food trucks – or anything in between! NO franchises or chains.
  4. Retail Stores – Anything independent.
  5. Personal Care – Hair, skin or body care. (No tanning salons)
  6. Professional Services – Law, accounting, photography, bands, DJs, event planning, pet sitting, catering and similar.
  7. Health-related – Physical fitness, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors and similar.

To enter the contest, you must nominate a North Carolina business, provide a valid email address, and be a United States resident who is 18 or older.

Nominations will be accepted from February 5 through March 12. Small businesses with the MOST nominations within each of the seven nomination categories will automatically receive a 1 year Finder411 Premium subscription. In the event of a tie, an independent judging panel will select based on additional criteria to be provided at contest launch.

On March 19th public voting will begin. Voting closes at 5 p.m April 2nd. These votes will determine Finder411’s first Favorite North Carolina Small Business.

Visit our Facebook page and “like” us to stay up-to-date with all the contest happenings or head straight over to Finder411 to submit your small business photo – we might just include it on our Splash page!

Finder411 Community to Offer Refreshing New Model, Sans Advertising Spam

We all know those websites. The ones that assail you with ads the second you arrive. Click here. Click there. Click on something totally not relevant to anything you’re looking for. Pretty soon those ads are all you can focus on! Who wants to bother with that? We sure don’t.

That’s why Finder411 was created. To get rid of that advertising and focus exclusively on small local businesses:  those who own them and those who support them.

Finder411 is an exclusive online community and resource directory that allows consumers with a conscience to seek out and support the local businesses in their area. Offering a visually-appealing, transparent user experience, participants can find and refer small businesses and services.

Owners benefit from the ability to create either a free or premium business profile. But just because it’s premium doesn’t mean it’s not affordable. You won’t be competing with any of those franchises, chains or direct marketing companies either. Finder411 is exclusively local, all the time. No exceptions.

No one can deny that small businesses are what make a community unique—what set it apart from everything else. This individuality is what we celebrate at Finder411. We aim to help in the creation of healthy, vibrant communities, supported by the people who visit and live there.

So are you sold on the idea yet? Watch our 60 second welcome video below. Still excited by what you hear? Subscribe to our email list at Finder411.com for the latest updates. Whether you’re a small local business owner, someone who supports them, or want to get involved as an early partner, we’ll share exciting updates and our official launch date as spring approaches.