Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Like It Like That!


I discriminate just as much as the next guy.

"That store had an indignant employee. That one has food that was too dry. That one has better bread than that one. That one had an uncomfortable toilet seat."

The list goes on and on.... So for all of our discriminating palates, we decided to let our merchants list their favorite stores. Afterall, if we, as customers, like the standards of a particular store - it would make sense to take notice of the stores they recommend.

Check out some of our merchants who are using one of our new 'Local Favorites' feature:

- Eagle's Space, LLC - Owosso, MI

- Family Fun Airbrush Tattoos - Martinez, CA

Kevin Leu
Community Relations

P.S. My favorite toilets seats are the ones that don't curve down into the toilet. It's too hard to get the sani-wrap to cover the entire toilet seat. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

200,000 Strong - Together We Stand

It's funny, but every once in awhile folks in the office will reminisce about the old days. Things like, 'I remember that merchant, back when we had 500.' It's kind of like the cliched 'I walked to school, uphill in the snow, both ways!'

Well folks, MerchantCircle is now standing tall at 200,000 business owners signed-on all over the US. While we can't say it was an easy process, we can say it's been a memorable and enjoyable one. We've created a number of new features to make sure that you can reach new customers - and old - all over the web.

As we grow, we're committed to not lose sight of what's in the best interest of you, the small business owner, and who we feel is the heart of this nation. Continue to engage your fellow merchants in our forums and make sure you know, that you'll always have a web presence with us.

Take a look at Northern Mist Gifts if you get a chance. They're out in Wasilla, AK - I couldn't tell you how to pronounce it, but just like many of you, they come from a small city. They built coupons, newsletters, and wrote blogs on their MerchantCircle page and even use our widgets on their official website.

They embody everything we envisioned for MerchantCircle when 'it was just a few hundred merchants': The mom and pop shops finding new customers and not being left behind in this digital revolution....... Now getting home from school in the snow, is a whole other story.

Community Relations

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What's Not to Love?

I joined MerchantCircle about three weeks ago. It happened as one of those serendipitous moments in life akin to finding a future love or a sale item you can't resist buying. As I came closer to finishing my MBA at Stanford Business School, I decided to pay attention to my entrepreneurial gut and satisfy my curiosity for innovation and the startup world. I met Ben, Doug, and Walt at MerchantCircle on my birthday and four days later I was working away.
So, three weeks later I finally decided to synthesize my experience at MerchantCircle and think about answers to the questions I repeatedly get asked: "What have you learned? "Why MerchantCircle?"

In these three weeks I have learned that one of the most important things is to know your customer. As a new business grad student I learned that understanding local business is pivotal, and something we work hard at. And when I say understanding our industry, I mean getting to know what merchants like, what they don't like, what is important to them and their customers. That is why we are such a big family and growing- almost at 200K merchants!!

I also learned that with passion and determination there is nothing you can't learn and change fast! Part of getting to know your customer is the discovery process. At MerchantCircle nobody takes that for granted and learning about merchants, is a dynamic process in which gathering feedback, developing solutions, and executing fast are what makes our relationship work. On a personal note, this is what I was taught at the at Stanford and what makes working for a startup so exciting...

I also finally understood that local businesses are at the core of our day-to-day lives, like family and best can't live without them. Local businesses are like our good old neighbors. However as children play video games and adults become dependent on the internet, we no longer take time to stroll around the neighborhood and get to wave at our neighbors. Instead, we email, chat, and find them on Google maps. That is why we must seek to keep our local communities alive as an extension of our lives, which nowadays translates to being online and adopting new technologies.

So, in saving the best for last, I can now answer why I like MerchantCircle. I love the people, their energy, good spirit, determination, and creativity. I love our merchants, who are passionate about their work and about caring for their customers like they care for their families. At MerchantCircle every day brings a new challenge and a new laugh, but I also know that everyone is working towards the same goal. What is there not to love?

Irit Epelbaum
Product Manager