November 20, 2012

From Facebook to FiveStars

After over 2.5 years at Facebook, my last day was this past Friday. I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to pursue opportunities at B2SMB startups based in San Francisco. My strength is building sales and marketing efforts from scratch, and I wanted to get back to that kind of environment. Initially, I sought to help a few startups on a part-time basis to get my bearings, but when I met with FiveStars, I knew that I had found the right company for me. In December, I’ll start at FiveStars as their VP of Marketing and join the amazing company that Victor Ho and Matt Doka co-founded.

FiveStars has created a simple loyalty platform for local businesses based on a universal card that integrates with 90% of merchant POS systems. It has gotten great traction and adoption because of its simplicity and has so many possibilities. From my time at Google and Facebook I have realized that there are generally 3 segments in SMB: local businesses, e-commerce companies, and medium-sized businesses with marketing managers. Most of Facebook and Google advertising dollars are made in the latter 2 categories, but local businesses remain a conundrum. The reason is local business owners are busy and committed to delivering great service or product experience, so they have little time to master new complex marketing strategies or to learn how to evolve from a non-social world to a social one. 

For some time I have been thinking that the best marketing solution for local businesses needs to leverage the greatest asset of local businesses—a great product or service experience— and translate that into loyal repeat business and word-of-mouth in an automated and amplified way. However, the challenge has been that most local businesses have no way to capture the customer relationship after delivering a great experience to their customers. They try by collecting email addresses or try to ask people to like them on a Facebook, but these do not fit naturally into the traditional processes and flows of local business transactions. FiveStars has their merchants hand out FiveStars cards at the point-of-sale and thus immediately captures the relationship. Then as customers come back, the FiveStars merchants know who they are and their purchase history at the POS. FiveStars also has the ability to encourage loyal repeat customers to drive referrals or to refer other customers in its network to its merchants. Finally, we may have a marketing solution for local businesses that is easy and amplifies the power of their greatest asset—satisfied customers who come back time and time again.

I can’t wait to get started!