Redbeacon is just a year and a half old, until recently was bootstrapped, and has deployed its local-services marketplace in only one region, but something about what it’s doing clearly makes people think the company’s on to something big. It’s won four separate startup competitions, including TechCrunch 50 and Silicon Alley Insider’s top prizes. People seem to really like the idea of using a website to find and negotiate with local service providers to clean their house or detail their car.
Redbeacon’s most recent valuation was its first outside funding: $7.4 million from Mayfield Fund and Venrock. So we invited co-founder and CEO Ethan Anderson over to our office to hear about what the company is doing to meet these lofty expectations.
Redbeacon is planning to use the funding to expand, said Anderson, by building up new regional markets and also through online distribution, via a publisher widget and formal partnerships with distributors like phone directories. He wants to build Redbeacon as a brand, while borrowing from the traditional classifieds business.
RedBeacon seems like a LendingTree for contractors. Kind of Web 1.0 with some pasted-on testimonials. Not all that innovative.
Many players (AT&T - Buzz.com, Reach Local, Localeze, Google, Facebook, LikeList) are converging on the social-local space to leverage word-of-mouth referrals. Who will come up with a successful way to effectively tap the value of these trusted recommendations?
These two elements might be the keys:
1. a unique monetization model. There's so much value in the transaction itself - why not convert that to cash?
2. a unique way to benefit causes. The Web is famous for its ability to marshal the concern and financial support of people for good causes. With a creative model, the social capital of these transactions can benefit charities with a recurring source of donations.