Searching for a laptop online, John Russo thought if only he could speak with other people seeking the same thing. Surely someone already purchased what he was looking for, which would be a great advantage. Although he didn't know the exact specs, he knew his price range and what he needed the laptop to do.
"We thought this process could work for anything," says Jason Mazzaro, who co-founded the free social commerce platform Kungphoo.com with Russo and Robert Manea. "Likeminded pools of people seeking similar things could leverage each other for better outcomes. This was the demand side of Kungphoo, or the buying circle."
The co-founder trio started talking with small business owners. And as small business owners themselves, they realized that there was an unmet need in the supply side of marketing for small businesses.
"We felt the pain of small business owners, struggling every day to find a voice, with small to no advertising budget, and getting crushed by the big boys. We saw vacant storefronts, and mom and pops going under all over the place," says Mazzaro, who founded an IT firm with Manea.
"This is when we realized small businesses needed a voice, venue, and an affordable means of marketing-one that was purpose-based and could rise above all of the noise found on traditional social media sites," Mazzaro says about adding the Selling and Information circles (supply side) to the site.
Kungphoo fills the marketing-affordability gap for small businesses-giving them a venue to call their own and a consumer-facing marketplace that allows for full social interaction. With the co-founders' combined 20-year background in IT and marketing, they also help users brand their products and services on Kungphoo if requested.
"It's all purpose-based, so no one cares about what you had for breakfast," says Mazzaro. "It's all centered around the purpose of the circle. Anyone can join, share, or leave your circle at any time."
Besides substantially reducing costs from traditional online marketing, SEO, PPC, and ads, Kungphoo:
- Is completely free.
- Reaches thousands of people in minutes.
- Is faster and easier to set up than other sites, such as Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook.
- Incorporates discounts, e-commerce, classified ads, and search all into one easy-to-use, socially driven platform.
It's hard to compare Kungphoo to competitors, like Craigslist, because it offers so many different options:
- Publishers can choose one to 31 days, or choose no expire for their ads.
- Ads are published in collaborative circles that allow for full communication (public, private, or message all).
- Ads are promoted in the Kungphoo marketplace, and across the web and social media (search engine optimized).
- As the first small business marketplace, it's not just product centered-sell, advertise, promote, core business, products, services, information, deals, coupons.
- It's free for businesses and consumers to publish an ad on Kungphoo.
- Create a circle in under two minutes with no hoops to jump through.
- It's local, national, or global.
- Flexible formatting allows up to 10 images, bolding, hyperlinking, bulleting, and more.
- It offers a fun, unique design and technology.
- Link your ad to any other website or shopping cart.
- Easily share your circle to social media pages or email out.
The social commerce site is in 2,000 cities worldwide, with thousands of listings in the Kungphoo marketplace, and new ones are being added every day-with a constant uptick in new content and users every day.
"Our short-term goal for Kungphoo is to keep our current users happy, actively gain new users, and gain more exposure for the site," Mazzaro says. "We are at the point where we know we have something and it's time to get some first-round investors to help us bring this to the next level."
Soon, Kungphoo will add premium features for users who want to move from the free option to take advantage of more advanced business advertising. They also plan on making it much better for businesses looking to brand, promote, sell, or just broadcast information without the typical pain points from trying to do so. For example, Kungphoo will soon have a logo upload for circles to help businesses brand all of their circles on Kungphoo.