Localzi: Business Model, v7?

Actually, I’ve lost count on the version number. If you go back to “Voice-Ads”, which could be considered my first attempt at what I am now calling Localzi, this is probably at least version 12.

Voice-ads was a grand project, in my mind. I worked on it, in vain, mostly during 1992. Basically, you could describe it as classified ads on the telephone. The idea was that you would call the Voice-Ads number with the intention, for example, of finding a plumber. You might listen to a number of recorded ads for plumbers. If you found one you liked, you could press a button and be directly connected.

Voice-ads never got off the ground, but turned out to be the father, so to speak, of the Akron-Canton Connection (ACC), which was my most successful business to date, topping 2 million dollars in it’s 12th, and final, year.

During the ACC years, I made a couple of other attempts to get a “voice-ads-like” project off the ground, including the “Entertainment Connection”, “AkronCanton.com”, which was an online newspaper, and “Lake Today”, another online newspaper, but with a smaller geographic focus. All of these ideas failed.

In 2006, I worked on “Rivul.com”, which was slightly different in that the focus was on business organizations, especially chambers of commerce, and designed to help their members receive better visibility in their communities and to allow members to communicate and collaborate better. I got as far as demoing the website for representatives of the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce, but no further.

In 2012 (approx.), I got back to the classified ad/business directory idea, and started working on a project that I originally named “BullBor.com” (kind of short for bulletin board). That project has continued to this day, although there have been several detours, course corrections, and name changes (including “Town.biz”, or something like that, “Rivul.com”, again, “Yalzi.com”, a name Susan found, “LocalStakes.com”, and now “Locazi.com” and/or “DiningDeals.club”). There were a couple other names as well which I’ve forgotten.

The current incarnation of the project could be described as a variation of Groupon with a sweepstakes thrown in. I can’t say it’s terribly original or inventive, but it’s still grand.

In addition to having a common theme of connecting businesses with consumers, all of these projects have a big problem — how to bring these two groups together at the same time — and offer both of them something they really want. Okay that’s two problems.

I’ve considered all sorts of technologies and tactics, starting with recorded voices on the telephone, and moving to the Internet, social media, and chatbots.

The goal is three-fold: 1) Offer small businesses and easy and expensive way to advertise themselves. 2) Consumers will also benefit by learning more about their local businesses and get a chance to save money. 3) Finally, it will benefit me and Susan by being a relatively simple and straightforward business to run, not requiring a lot of manpower, and produce a steady income.

Here’s a link to the current strategy. I think it’s the most workable plan I’ve come up with yet. I will start with restaurants because everyone loves to go out to eat, and because there are some simple things I can offer them that don’t work so well with other types of businesses.

In time, we should be able to branch out to other businesses.

If I can get this business off the ground and making a profit, my life would be complete. 🙂

Or something like that. I’ve worked on this for so long (intermittently for about 28 years) that it’s nearly become an obsession. There’s also some desperation as well, considering I’ve reached retirement age now, with little to support us in our old age.

Luckily (or more likely by the grace of God), I still have my health and relatively sound mind, so I think it’s still possible to pull this off.

Partner vs Mentor

I’ve often wished I had a partner to help me start an Internet business. It seems that all the successful businesses I’m aware of were started by two partners rather than a single person.

Notable examples would be Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who started Apple, Bill Gates and Paul Allen who started Microsoft, and
Larry Page and Sergey Brin who started Google, but I’ve seen many other lesser examples.

On the other hand, Jeff Bezos started Amazon pretty much by himself, but he seems to be an exception.

Of course, partnerships are fraught with danger. They often don’t work out. One of the partners may feel overworked or under-appreciated, or that he’s being taken advantage of by the other.

Business partnerships are like marriages–most end up in divorce. However, those partners that find a way to make it work always say that they couldn’t have achieved their success without the perspective of their partner. 


Some people are better at finding partners than others. They just naturally a drawn to someone with similar interests and talents. For whatever reason, it hasn’t happened to me.

While my wife has been supportive, and will help out where she can, she doesn’t really share my passion for entrepreneurship — at least not the same type of entrepreneurship. I think the closest I ever came to having a business partner was in 1993 when I asked David Eid if he would like to partner with me in expanding my “call-transfer” telephone business. He politely declined, but later decided to get into the business anyway – on his own. We remained friendly competitors, however. Though we loved sharing experiences and business ideas, we rarely agreed on the best way to run a business. We’re still friends to this day, but might not be if we had become business partners.

I’ve also read countless stories of people who failed in their business attempts until they finally found a mentor — an experienced entrepreneur that is willing to hold your hand, so to speak, and tell you exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it.

The advantage of having a mentor over a partner is that the relationship is designed to be temporary. The mentor only needs to be in the picture long enough to help you get off the ground. After that, you can connect on an as-needed basis.

A mentor may be a friend or relative who has expertise you need, and may not charge you for his advice. Oftentimes, however, it’s a business relationship, and you pay for your mentor’s help.

Last Saturday, I hired a mentor — Adam Marvin. He’s a young guy, living in Switzerland, and found some good success in selling solo ads. He actually got his start from another mentor. Now he’s teaching what he knows to people like me. I’m hoping it goes well.

Why am I interested in selling solo ads? Truthfully, I only had a vague understanding of what a solo ad is up until a few days ago. What got me interested is that I was looking for ways to build a large list of subscribers without spending a lot of money. I considered affiliate marketing as a way to recoup my ad cost fairly quickly, but then I stumbled on solo ads.

If you’re selling solo ads, you have to be expert at building a large list of subscribers, but you don’t have to be an expert at selling them anything. That’s the job of those who purchase the right to promote an offer to your list.

I was intrigued, but still felt uncomfortable about getting into the business until I came upon Adam’s advertisement in the Warrior Forum. I used to visit the forum a lot, and learned quite a bit, but it’s full of people promoting products that are more hype than substance.

Anyway, Adam didn’t offer a lot of information in his ad, but I was intrigued enough to schedule a call with him. He also sent this video to me where he gives an overview of his program. On the call, I was impressed with his sincerity and honesty.

Of course, I was also impressed with what he was offering to do – namely get my solo ads business completely set up and running within 14 days — and even seeing some income in that amount of time.

I decided to go for it. This represents, yet again, another shift in my business plan. Most recently, I’ve been working on Localzi and Dining Deals, which I’ll explain in another post. I’m not giving up on those, and am hoping my solo ads business will aid in getting the other off the ground.

We’ll see how it goes.