No one knows a small business owner’s struggles and needs better than other small business owners.
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“If you are a small business trying to figure out to buy something you never bought before, where do you go?” said Jeff Giesea. “For business people, there are no places to go to benefit from the experiences of other people.” With this in mind, Giesea co-founded BestVendor, a user-generated review website, to provide small business owners reviews of web services and cloud-based applications
BestVendor, which was launched earlier this month, concentrates its reviews on web services and cloud-based apps because of the growth potential of this market, which is expected to double in size in the next four years.
Giesea, who serves of CEO of the company, said many competitors in the industry make it hard for small businesses to cut through all the noise to find the best application for their business needs. “There’s a whole new class of software in cloud,” he said. “We see a need to help them.”
The site plans to expand into reviews of mobile apps as long as they are business related.
BestVendor, which is free, requires users to log in with a LinkedIn account. Giesea said eventually users will be able to sign in using Twitter and Facebook accounts. After sharing some personal data and three work app recommendations, users can search the website’s 3,000 and counting peer reviews on applications.
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According to Giesea, users benefit from BestVendor because they get personalized recommendations based on criteria like job function, LinkedIn network connections and previous recommendations. The more information a user shares, the more tailerd the recommendations become, said Giesea.
The site also shows users the apps that people within their LinkedIn network are using and recommending. Users can search by company or person to see what apps are preferred, as well as use the site as a business directory to get access to recommended apps.
To generate revenue, BestVendor will help app writers get new customers through enhanced vendor listings that will enable them to provide videos, white papers and more information on their profile. Vendors can even answer questions from prospective buyers. BestVendor will also act as a reseller by generating leads for the vendors and then giving its members discounts on those apps. Giesea says BestVendor plans to keep it very transparent when a vendor is paying for any of the website’s services.
While users are allowed to give negative reviews of an app, Giesea said BestVendor is “focusing more on love than we are on hate.” And because users are required to sign in from their LinkedIn account, other users know the review stems from a real person. This prevents competitors from posting negative reviews for its opponents and from vendors giving their apps glowing reviews, he said.
While the Internet has a wealth of information on different apps and reviews from countless trade magazines, Giesea argued peer-reviewed content holds more water and is useful.
“Whenever a business person is buying something for the first time the first thing they do is ask what other companies are using,” said Giesea. “They want to know what people they known trust, and think.”