February 3, 2015

BostInno

Is Dunwello Superior to Yelp and LinkedIn?

The local startup, which just added new investors, has seen significant traction in just its first few months of testing.

 at different businesses, empowers people and professions excluded or under-served by the promotional value of Yelp and LinkedIn. And it’s an all-around win for every party involved: Professionals can gain credibility with potential customers, businesses get the credit for having highly rated employees and customers are given a space to give more person-specific feedback.

An early growth spurt

In just the last month, the site has seen user activity swell, and there are already signs that Dunwello is paying off for professionals. The number of categories with more than 25 professionals have grown by nearly 500 percent, and users have seen hundreds to thousands of potential clients view their profile. Moreover, many of these professionals’ profiles appear on the first page of their Google search results, further helping them to connect with new business opportunities.

And the roster of investors who have backed Dunwello further demonstrate its promise. Founder Matt Lauzon tells me Dunwello has just added some new investors, bringing the startup's total raised capital close to $2 million. Those investors include Boloco founder and former CEO John Pepper, Flipkey founder and former CEO TJ Mahony, serial technology executive and startup advisor Julia Austin, Honest Discounts CEO Chris Jacobs, TA Associates Principal Jeff Del Papa, and Smarterer Vice President of Marketing Sarah Hodges. Lauzon says the funding will be used to drive marketing initiatives as well as hire a marketing and business development team leader.

"Dunwello resonated immediately with me as a consumer," Pepper said via email. "But as someone who relentlessly encouraged employees of our company to strike out on their own in pursuit of a better life and future, Dunwello’s platform supports these entrepreneurs like no other. Giving clients and customers a chance to highlight the strengths of their favorite individual professionals will attract more business, allow them to remain independent and in control of their own futures."

Most recently, Dunwello added funding from four notable angels in December and also hired local fashion expert Tonya Mezrich to be a brand ambassador. Those angels joined existing investors NextView Ventures, VegasTechFund, G20 Ventures, CommonAngels, as well as Bridge Boys and others.

Making it easier to find talent

For a service-oriented small business like Turnstyle Cycle, it’s especially crucial to have individual reviews because many clients book classes based on the specific trainer teaching. And owner Rich Downing says this advantage has made Dunwello invaluable to his business. And the numbers further solidify that fact: The studio has 78 reviews for instructors on Dunwello and just 15 on Yelp. Plus, users are more easily able to search for reviews by instructor on Dunwello.

"The most powerful way of communicating that quality to prospective customers is through customer reviews, the richness and volume of which increase when your people go above and beyond in engaging their own customers outside of class (on Facebook or Twitter, etc.)," Downing said. "Dunwello's unparalleled social/sharing functionality enables the engagement that drives authentic content (reviews), which is then communicated to prospective customers who already know and trust the authors of those reviews (their friends). Put simply, Dunwello puts rocket boosters on word-of-mouth."

"Put simply, Dunwello puts rocket boosters on word-of-mouth."

One of the frustrations that comes with using Yelp is that users are often seeing reviews for people who no longer even working for the company. Which, when you’re booking a service like a massage or a haircut, can be misleading. Dunwello nixes that problem by focusing on the individual professional as opposed to the business. One stylist, for example, moved to a new salon—but the Yelp page for her old salon still had all of her hard-earned reviews. On Dunwello, they stay with her no matter which salon she is employed at. Already, she’s had more than 1,500 people view her Dunwello profile. And now, if you Google her name, her Dunwello profile is the first result after her Facebook page.

To read more: http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2015/02/02/dunwello-expands-professional-reviews-for-finding-business-opportunities/