Tauranga-based Like Your Local founders, Mark Murphy and Joshua Terrington, would not be where they are today if it wasn’t for COVID-19.
Before the world locked down, Murphy and Terrington were in Melbourne, a couple of weeks away from closing their second funding round for an online ticketing platform they had built. With the platform, FOMO Events, event organisers could plug their ticketing service into a platform, and customers would receive a URL to a webpage that dished out app-like experiences.
This approach solved a fundamental problem common in apps. Murphy says that although everyone wants to build an app, people rarely download them. As a UX designer, this is something he knows firsthand, and with this understanding, FOMO Events was taking off.
But when COVID-19 hit, all events had to stop, and their funding round followed suit.
In the interim, Murphy and Terrington wanted to do something to help the situation. While refunding tickets, they noticed that many people wanted to give the cash to the venue or the artist instead of getting their money back.
“A lot of these people had been going to these venues for years and years. They appreciated the tricky financial balancing act that the venues and artists need to make,” says Murphy.
From this, the two came up with the idea to repurpose their ticketing technology to provide gift cards as a way for customers to pay-it-forward to local businesses. They called it Shout Your Local, and Murphy and Terrington felt excited about work again.
“We realised that this is what we should be doing; helping small businesses. “Ma and Pa” businesses are amazing at what they do but not so great doing other things, like engaging local audiences on social media or using technology effectively, because it’s often not their bag,” says Murphy.
Murphy and Terrington knew that to continue to help small businesses into the future, they needed to hypothesise what the Post-COVID world may look like so they could design a company that solved their pain points.
To experience a possible future today, Murphy moved from Melbourne to Tauranga.
“Here, we can see what the rest of the world will be like after they come out of COVID-19. It gives us an amazing advantage in what will happen next,” Murphy explains.
Post-COVID, Murphy believes that the sentiment to support local will continue to be high and small businesses will continue to look for ways to diversify their revenue.
To help businesses do both, they created Like Your Local, an online platform that makes landing pages for small businesses that showcases all the ways you can support them in an incredibly simple way. It’s free, and all businesses have to do is plug in their most important links, such as their website, social media, or online store.
Like Your Local generates a unique URL and QR code for the business to take their supporters to their page. Companies can also choose from custom posters and point of sale materials.
Like their ticketing platform, the result is an app-like experience that customers don’t need to download.
“We thought, ‘well, what would the world’s easiest small business website look like? How can we get the adoring public who loves this business to support them for free, but also support them through hard value like payments?” Murphy explains.
Like Your Local is set up to do both – all in one place.
Later this month, Like Your Local is launching a private feedback capability, which event organisers received tremendous value from on their previous platform. Murphy says that event organisers never knew what their customers thought unless their experience was particularly bad, in which they often made it public on Google.
“So many people have a fantastic time, but nobody posts about that. So, there’s unfair weighting against small businesses online,” says Murphy, “We’re hoping that this is a solution that might alleviate some of that pain.”
On top of growing Like Your Local, Murphy is also a mentor for young entrepreneurs in a collaboration between Young Enterprise and Tauranga’s Venture Centre called the YES programme. It’s given him insight into innovation and youth initiatives in the Bay of Plenty.
“It’s inspiring to go through a similar journey again. I could demonstrate some of the techniques we used to define ‘Like your Local’,” says Murphy. “You could say we’ve all been on a very similar journey over the last 8 months!”
With premium options on the way, including analytics, how the platform evolves from here is up to early adopters, who Murphy and Terrington are working closely with.
Although it’s early days, Like Your Local is thinking local but acting global, with sights set on scalability, so they can help small businesses everywhere thrive in a Post-COVID world.