Postling, from Etsy.com Veterans, Looks to Manage Social Media for the Non-Tech-Savvy Business Owner
Your average doctor who owns his practice doesn’t exactly have time to monitor Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, YouTube, and blogs all day for comments and reviews on his business, says entrepreneur David Lifson.
Yet a busy doctor is just the type of customer that Lifson is targeting with Postling, the startup he co-founded in New York City. The company, which launched in 2009, delivers a daily e-mail summary of what’s being said about a particular business through different social media outlets. A business owner also can get instant notifications of new comments on the business, and can respond instantly via e-mail to post responses on the given social media platform.
“Their email inbox is the one thing they do check every day,” says Lifson, Postling’s CEO. “They can treat these new emails as a to-do list.”
Postling users can also schedule and post social media updates ahead of time from the platform, and manage their news feeds from different social media sites—all in one place. Analytics show Postling customers which social media outlets are most effective for them. The software is designed to be simpler and easier to manage, at least for non-professional marketers, than options like HootSuite or Radian6, says Lifson.
Postling’s founders come from Etsy.com, the Brooklyn-based e-commerce marketplace for handmade and vintage items. Etsy co-founders Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik left the company in 2008, shortly after Etsy brought on Maria Thomas as chief operating officer in April 2008 and promoted her to CEO that July. (She left the company at the end of 2009.) Lifson, formerly of Amazon.com, started working at Etsy in spring 2008 and left that November to join Maguire and Schoppik in starting a new company.
The trio spent roughly six months trying to develop an Etsy-esque site for independent bed and breakfast inns, taking a percentage of rooms booked through the site, like OpenTable does for restaurants. The site, Waffl.com, is still up and running, but didn’t take off among the not so tech-savvy bed and breakfast owners, Lifson says.
“Convincing innkeepers to use our room inventory management system instead of paper and pencil was not going to happen,” says Lifson.
But it was that group of customers that also told the Postling team that they wanted a tool to help them manage social media all from one place. They said, “We’re so overwhelmed on all of this social media stuff, put it all in one place, and we’ll learn that tool,” Lifson says.
Lifson, Schoppik, and Maguire worked on Postling for about six weeks and launched in August 2009. “What we’re good at it is building sites; sales and marketing we’re still figuring out,” says Lifson. He says that because the company hasn’t spent any money on marketing or advertising, and has relied entirely on word-of-mouth, organic growth. It serves about 16,000 businesses. Property managers with multiple buildings are a prominent type of customer for the site, Lifson says.
Postling has raised about $700,000 in two equal rounds, from angel investors including Dave McClure, David Cohen, and Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s looking to raise another round of roughly $3 million in the next year or so, Lifson says, to help businesses generate more revenue via social media.
The six-person company’s monthly rates range from $9 to $49, or $5 to $10 per property per month, for businesses with multiple sites to monitor. Postling launched the instant e-mail notification feature in January, and has since seen its monthly revenue double and its number of paying customers triple, Lifson says.
Postling works out of the General Assembly incubator space in New York’s Flatiron district. The city’s diversity of businesses and industries make it a tech hub more connected to the general population, he says.
“The cafes in Palo Alto know about more tech than I do,” he says. “It’s no longer representative of the rest of the country.”
Meanwhile, New York is just the place for Postling, and the types of customers it serves, Lifson says. “You have the pizza place down the street that’s actually a New York pizza place,” he says. They don’t care about fancy technology like check-ins and mobile payments.