I am sure that many of you have heard of Yelp.com, “Real People, Real Reviews” for those of you who do not know:
…the ultimate city guide that taps into the community’s voice and reveals honest and current insights on local businesses and services on everything from martinis to mechanics.
That is a lot of territory to cover and now it looks like there is a new kid on the block that would like to take a piece of that territory as their own, Insideup.com.
InsideUp is creating an online community where small businesses can search for business services, review vendor ratings, and get feedback on vendor services. So as Yelp is all about the happenings around town InsideUp looks to be all business, all the time or the source for business services at the very least.
Is there a need for this type of community?
From the InsideUp blog it looks like there are 1.68 trillion reasons:
According to a 2007 report published by Visa International, small businesses (businesses with less than 100 employees or less than $25 million in sales) in the U.S. spend $1.68 trillion yearly on business services, or nearly 35% of their total business expenditures.
Another nice little statistic that lends some credence to the need for this type of resource, also from their blog:
According to Access Market International (AMI) Partners, more than 40% of small and medium businesses (or about 2.8 million businesses) are using Web 2.0 applications as part of their normal business practices. Web 2.0 is a term that describes interactive web features such as blogs, wikis, and social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, & Digg.
How does it work?
Members can rate vendors, provide references, and answer questions from other members. To insure accuracy, we allow business vendors to flag ratings and references that may not come from actual customers. We also don’t release or sell member information, so our members’ privacy is protected.
At InsideUp, we know that making smart choices is essential in today’s competitive environment. Business services vendors want to target customers in a cost-effective way, and companies want to make sure that they are choosing solutions that take their businesses to the next level. That’s why we are creating an exciting online community where companies and business services vendors can connect in a unique and innovative way.
The website is in beta testing right now, and there are some glitches so be patient. I have only been able to login once since signing up and that was by accident, I just kept clicking links and the system finally gave in and let me on. Support hasn’t gotten back to me yet, but I am sure they will work the kinks out soon.
Without being a member you can perform a business category search based on distance from a specified zip code. The search will pull up business name, city, and a one to five star rating-to see actual reviews you must be a member.
At this time the membership is free and it looks like that will continue they are, like most networking communities, looking to make their money off of advertising.
I personally like niche communities, I think the more specialized and smaller the better, they keep the feedback relevant and reliable.
As sites get larger like the ones listed below, you get some people that have an opinion just because, and even though there are some genuine reviews the “just because I can” opinions give all the reviews less credibility.
The Better Business Bureau, local Chamber of Commerce, and the large internet directories are adequate resources and provide a starting point for information, but I also like that I will now have a more local tech based source for business services.
What do you think, do you use the larger business directory sites, if so how do you like or dislike them? Would you be interested in a more specialized, narrowly focused site to get your information from?