For developing countries like India where consumer behaviour is primarily ROPO (research online purchase offline), optimizing the website for local search is critical. At present, there is euphoria among small businesses about going online but most sites end up being new web pages providing information and no other value.
For small and medium businesses going online is all about getting value with minimal investment of money and time. While there are various option for SMEs like Zepo, Infibeam’s Buildabazaar, Shopify and KartRocket to go online, Hyderabad-based NowFloats, a local business discovery platform, creates websites for businesses which can be updated via an SMS or a mobile app. “By doing so we have made the process of content creation easy keeping the site fresh and relevant,” says Ronak Samantray, co-founder, NowFloats.
Launched in 2012, NowFloats has so far enabled more than 8,000 businesses ranging from boutique shops to multi-store chains like Mom&Me, Colorplus, Hasbro among others. Over the past one year, the startup has released several features which include NowFloats Boost and customer engagement tool RIA. “We have also cracked partnerships with Verisign, Getit and iSpirit in India along with Microsoft in Africa,” reveals Ronak.
NowFloats Boost is an iPhone app, primarily aimed at SMBs to get them online and get discovered. NowFloats offers subscription (via SMS/email) for businesses to update offerings with the latest content. “The business owner can know in real-time what search queries are bringing visitors to the site. This is an innovative feature which helps them understand and improvise,” adds Ronak.
NowFloats’s automated location based SEO helps attract local search traffic (purely organic) to businesses on the platform which helps sites ranked highly in search engine results. “We are getting decent traction in Mexico and South East Asian countries for NowFloats Boost,” says Ronak.
When it comes to traction, the startup has about 20% customers coming from outside India. On a monthly basis, NowFloats does over a million rupees revenue. “We are close to breakeven and hopefully will attain that by the end of the first half this year,” adds Ronak. At present, over 5000 businesses are using the platform from over 40 countries and NowFloats is adding around 500 customers every couple of weeks.
With offices in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad, NowFloats processes more than eight million requests and registers over 115,000 page views on a monthly basis. In 2013, the startup had raised angel investment led by Blume Ventures and Mumbai Angels. The company is in talks with a few venture capital firms for Series A. “Hopefully we will raise our next round soon to scale our operations in India as well as abroad,” says Ronak.