This is a tale of how a microscopic virus turned the world inside out, destroyed our business, sent us (and our clients) to the edge and inspired a mission to like, live and love local...
Thanks for being here and we hope you're doing OK. We're just your classic pair of friendly software nerds that until recently ran our own small business creating groovy technology for the events industry.
Running our small business was tough, but rewarding - we loved working for our clients who then became our friends. The biggest part of our business was using our software sell electronic tickets for events like conferences and live music shows.
The event industry was one of the first and hardest to get hit by Covid-19. Lockdown meant overnight our clients stopped trading - Yikes! For us this now meant we had to refund every ticket holder for every show - thousands of people, millions of dollars. Double Yikes!
As we glumly started working through the gigantic spreadsheet of ticket refunds - something strange started to happen. More and more of our ticket holders began asking whether it was possible to donate the cost of their ticket to support their local venue. This got us thinking...
We asked ourselves "what if we could use gift cards so people could 'pay it forward' and help our clients with cash now and customers later?" So we quickly re-purposed our ticketing software to sell electronic gift cards and setup a website. The idea was to allow anyone to buy lockdown gift cards and support their favourite cafe, pub, restaurant or event venue. We had no grand strategy, no business plan and no idea what would happen next!
Within a few hours of putting this first version of the website online gift cards began to sell like hot cakes and we were being swamped with requests to list other local businesses. We realised businesses needed all the help they could get and people are super, super keen to support their local business. We knew we would need to a create a better, less wobbly solution (and business plan!) if this was going to be a bigger mission...
We realised that it isn't enough to just help sell more gift cards - business owners need a fast, easy, low cost way to diversify revenue and engage their community - right now!
That got us thinking about what 'the worlds simplest business website' might look like. It needed to be something that's fast to setup and easy to use for both business owners and their community. Maybe it could literally be just a single mobile webpage with some buttons? Voila! Like Your Local was born!
So here we are - 2020 has been a bit of a roller coaster (for all of us!) and we're now embarking on a mission to create the easiest way for small business owners to unlock the love of their locals to grow their business - especially when times are tough (like now!).
We believe the future needs to look a lot more like the past - but we're not talking about more horses and carts! Covid-19 is a big disruptive event that presents an opportunity to accelerate trends that have been emerging for a while now - specifically ideas around sustainable local food and drink, circular economies, payments innovation and creating more resilient communities with strong independent businesses.
We know things are really, really tough for a lot of us right now. But if there's one silver lining, it's that lockdown has demonstrated how much people care about their local businesses - and how important our small businesses are to our lives, the community and the economy. Now is the time to harness this sentiment and turn this moment into a movement to support local enterprise now and into the future.
Thanks for reading to the end! We hope our story paints a picture of why we're doing this and why we believe the future should be more local. We've got some big ideas we want to explore to fundamentally 'power up' the small businesses of the future - but right now we're making handy, useful and simple tools that can help any small business owner, any where. If you run a small business you can join for free today and start engaging your community to help grow your business - we'll be with you every step!
Mark & Josh
Co-founders / small business owners / tropical fish enthusiasts