Online marketplace for home and local services oneflare has received $500,000 from angel investors in Sydney to continue to develop its online platform for local small businesses.
Oneflare allows customers to search for local services such as tradespeople, fitness professionals and lifestyle appointments and converts these into leads which are shared with registered businesses.
More than 130,000 people visit the site each month looking for services. More than $16 million worth of jobs have been requested through the service since it launched in 2011.
Founder Marcus Lim told StartupSmart the funding will be used to develop its platform and service to the next stage.
“We’re seeing a complete evolution of the local services industry. It used to be about who advertised the best in the Yellow Pages, but now it’s where we currently are, in online networks that generate leads for businesses, but the customers still go through the idea of the marketplace,” Lim says.
He says the funding will enable them to launch their rebranded iPhone app and update the website even further.
“We want to make it to the evolution where customers can book services online, just like they book flights, by the end of this year,” Lim says.
He says the business is ready to push forwards now it has achieved critical mass of over 30,000 businesses in 250 service categories and customers Australia-wide.
“It was a bit of the chicken and egg problem. Getting the businesses on board first was the easiest part. We weren’t charging or providing them anything other than a listing and potential leads so that made convincing them easier.”
The service now works on a subscription model paid by businesses.
Lim says he employed vigorous SEM and SEO strategy to acquire customers. This also included a significant rebranding in early 2012, to re-craft the “Pick a Quote” brand to allow them to scale.
“When we started, the company was very focused on trades and services but what we realised was that limits our potential to feature local services in Australia. Quotes aren’t really synonymous with industries like pet grooming or health and fitness industry, so if we wanted to expand, we needed to change it,” Lim says.
Lim says the rebrand and raising capital have been the biggest issues for the company, now 12-people strong, to navigate.
“Friends and family have limited resources but getting investors and angels on board is really hard when you’re just building traction. I found it was make-or-break for us, and it’s great to have these new funds to develop further,” Lim says.