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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.