Connecting Businesses and Communities Locally
The soon to launch Spotted App, created by John Whitbread, is set to change the way that local businesses can reach their customers. With open to everyone aspects and its very affordable pricing, the app has been deliberately designed to make it easier for small businesses to market themselves and get leads from those who are looking for their services. But can it really be as good as it sounds? Let’s find out from Founder John Whitbread himself…
What is the Spotted App all about?
Basically, businesses can upload their details like who they are, where they’re based and what services they offer, and then when a consumer is looking for that service, they simply type in what they want and they’ll be matched to all the relevant people who can help in their local area.
Can’t people already do this?
People can already find local businesses through other similar websites, and social media platforms like Facebook also connect businesses with customers. But when I looked into it, I found that algorithms were affecting the way that these people were being connected. Decisions were being made for the customer, they weren’t getting all the options available.
It started to bug me that we were constantly having decisions made for us. We just aren’t given all the facts for us to decide ourselves, yet it’s only through having all the options that we can really make the right choices. So I wanted to create that very thing. I wanted to link businesses and customers with technology aiding the process rather than hindering it. Businesses can post reviews and pictures of past jobs, and they can bid for any relevant enquiry. Then consumers can make real decisions based on this.
What was the ‘light bulb’ moment that made you think of this app?
I run a Spotted Facebook group and people often post about their services or ask for recommendations of a supplier, but as the owner of the group I’m able to see that things don’t always run fairly. Comments aren’t always shown and it feels like biases are frequently being made. It’s great that we have this community board but it doesn’t give people the best options, just certain options.
After I started to understand how technology was playing a huge part in making people’s decisions for them, I knew that I could create something better. Apps are there to make life easier for us and I could see that something which impartially links businesses and consumers together would fill a well needed gap.
But isn’t Facebook free?
Yes, it is to post in individual groups, but obviously not to advertise on. And if you are posting in groups you’re only reaching people when they look, not necessarily when they need your services.
I had a conversation with a local small business and it really spurred me on to create this app. I was chatting to a lady who runs an ironing business and she was struggling to reach new customers. She hadn’t got much money to spend on marketing and she didn’t have lots of time to keep posting on social media. She also didn’t know what else she could do. So I created the prototype of the app with her in mind as she’s a prime example of the people I want to help.
I firstly made sure that on the app she’ll be able to link to every service she offers. So if it’s ironing but also sewing and mending clothes, she could advertise it all. Then I made sure that it was manageable to her budget. So the app is just £1 per month for businesses. That’s just £12 per year. Then finally I made sure it was simple to use. All she needed to do was upload all her business information and she’d be constantly visible at all times. The app does the work for her, bringing in leads as people need her services. If you’re busy you can turn off the notifications so you don’t get bothered by the enquiries, but either way you’ll still be there, so the app is always advertising your business.
I told myself if I keep it easy, flexible, open and cost effective it will suit any small business, just like the ironing business. And I am determined to make sure my app stays that way.
Have you created an app before?
No, my drive here has been through understanding the struggles that small businesses face. I get it. I’ve been there and I’m in the midst of it now. It’s really hard to market yourself and reach customers, and it can cost a lot of money and take up a lot of time.
I wanted to do this right, though, so I searched for the best technology partner. I chose to work with a development company that had a great track record and has worked with some high end clients. They know what they’re doing and they’re bringing my vision to life.
This has been 10 months in development. It’s not something we’ve rushed through, but it’s all I’m focused on. Working at Spotted App is now my full time commitment and all I care about is supporting local businesses. For me, if I can help a few businesses grow through them being able to better reach customers in a more cost effective way, that’s the best return on investment.
I could easily charge more for the app, but it’s not about making my fortune, it’s about stripping things back and creating a simple system that helps people connect. To me, this is the future. We’re all getting sick of technology ruling our lives, so I say let people make their own decisions on who they want to work with, and let’s enable it to happen in the easiest way possible.
How can people access the app?
If you’re a business and you want to get a listing then all you need to do is visit www.spottedapp.com and click on the “I want to list my business” button. It’s free for consumers to download and my goal is for the public to start using it as the main way they search for local suppliers.
For the first year I’m offering 2 free months, so it’s just £10 for this year for businesses to get involved. I urge you to give it a try. I want to help you get more leads and I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen.