In a market that's flush with vendors peddling their services as the best, it is hard for small business to get frank feedback from users about their experiences. A new startup, BestVendor is trying to solve that problem by creating a network platform where companies can post their experiences with various vendors and services they use in their business.
The 11-month-old New York-based company moved out of stealth mode on Wednesday and is allowing any company to sign up for its beta service.
This peer-to-peer service run by the Founder and CEO Jeff Giesea has already received $600,000 in seed funding from SoftBank Capital, Leer Ventures, SV Angel and Peter Thiel.
How it works
Once you have signed up, users can build lists of favorite tools and services, make a watch list about products you want to learn more about and read reviews of, and offer comments about companies and services that other business professionals might find useful.
BestVendor aim is help startups and smaller businesses navigate through the droves of tools available for improving business productivity.
"Business people deserve a single destination where they can benefit from the experience of others," Giesea said in a statement. "Why do everything the hard way? With BestVendor, professionals can quickly access peer recommendations and user reviews to find tools that enhance their productivity and success at work."
There are category streams such as best design applications or work-related social media applications, where users can browse what the top services are and the feedback that users have given for each company and category.
A user can sort people in the BestVendor network by who is connected to them via LinkedIn, people in the same industry, sort by company size, sort by company location, or even sort people that have rated similar applications.
Why this looks promising
I think that BestVendor is on to something that already resonates with entrepreneurs. I have spoken with hundreds of small business owners that love to share tools and services they discovered. It brings executives such excitement to share the newest, best tool that has changed how they do business.
And while I initially was concerned that some of the same issues with Yelp could arise (i.e., hiring people to fill pages with good reviews or having companies slam other vendors), the connection with LinkedIn gives the service and the users a higher level of accountability for their comments and allows viewers of the comments some perspective on who is rating services.
This is not without some concern since people in certain businesses may be more hesitant to provide completely honest information because of business reputation, but for the target market of small businesses and startups I don't think it will be too large of a deterrent from honest feedback.
Giesea said in a statement that BestVendor plans to drive revenue by helping vendors acquire new customers through enhanced profiles, affiliate referrals and reselling. "We're seeing a lot of demand among providers to get in front of potential customers. Distribution is a huge challenge for them, and BestVendor is here to help."