A Q&A with GramercyOne founder and CEO Josh McCarter. The New York City–based company was founded in October, 2010.
SUB: You recently launched a new free product for small businesses called GoSuite. What is included and how important is it to your strategy, moving forward?
McCarter: The GoSuite consists of two products, GoBook and GoPromote. Both of these are designed to address pain points that have arisen in the online to offline commerce market. Specifically, GoBook provides a platform that publishers and merchants can use to schedule and manage appointments via online, mobile and social channels. This can be integrated into anything from a daily deal site, to a merchant’s website, to their Facebook page, and customers can easily schedule their appointments for free. GoPromote solves another pain point, namely the creating, broadcasting and tracking of multiple promotions. Currently, most businesses don’t have any tools for doing this and even the most sophisticated are using excel to manage promotions—daily deals, online advertising, coupons, newspaper and radio ads, etc. This tool provides them a centralized dashboard to manage all of these marketing channels, with robust reporting to track the effectiveness of the various campaigns.
SUB: What size businesses are you targeting?
McCarter: GramercyOne’s clients range from independent professionals like hair stylists and guitar tutors, through day spas, to multinational corporations like Hilton. At one end of the spectrum we are putting significant emphasis on building our enterprise client base through the market-leading Booker platform, and at the other we have just launched our freemium products marketed under GoSuite, which are aimed squarely at the VSB and SMB markets.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
McCarter: In some of the areas in which we operate we have clearly defined competition—for example in salon and spa management software we compete with companies like Shortcuts Software and Millennium Harms. However, our products are cloud-based—the antithesis of the old installed software these competitors offer. So while we have largely the same target market, we believe we occupy a more advanced sector of the marketplace. If you consider the company as a whole, the breadth of our platform which extends from business management to online, social and mobile marketing, no other company offers a similar range of features across such a diverse set of verticals and company sizes.
SUB: What differentiates GramercyOne from your competitors?
McCarter: As I mentioned, the breadth of our client base is a significant differentiator, as is the fact that we offer web-based products on a SaaS model. There are no cloud based competitors we know of that have the breadth of the business management capabilities we do, which encompass scheduling, employee-service-business management, point of sale, CRM, online-social-mobile marketing, and mobile-tablet-interfaces for both consumers and merchants.
SUB: What’s your business model? How does GramercyOne generate revenue?
McCarter: GramercyOne operates a Software-as-a-Service, or ASP model, where we provide web-based software and charge a low, ongoing monthly fee. The ability to do this not only aides our customers, who can budget better with a low fixed cost, but also provides us with a sustainable recurring revenue model to drive future development and growth.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea? Was there an “aha” moment, or was it longer in developing?
McCarter: The company began as the SpaBooker division of SpaFinder, the leading online wellness portal, with the intent of becoming the “Open Table” for spas. As the platform evolved, we began enlisting new clients outside of the spa industry, despite the fact we were welling a product called SpaBooker from SpaFinder. We recognized that the market was starting to evolve and there was a tremendous opportunity in providing cloud-based business management systems to companies and then assisting these same businesses to manage all of the new digital marketing channels they were starting to use as customer acquisition vehicles. This spans mobile, social, group and other online ecommerce models. GramercyOne is positioned right in the sweet-spot of these new digital channels in three key ways: first, we can help businesses access and manage these new channels, determining marketing channel profitability and lifetime customer value. Second, we ease a pain in the online to offline commerce paradigm by enabling customers to easily interact with merchants to schedule services online, via mobile and tablet devices or via social media. Last, we provide the means for building ongoing relationships and repeat business through a set of merchant tools.
SUB: When was GramercyOne founded and what were the first steps you took toward establishing it?
McCarter: GramercyOne was founded in October 2010, as a result of the spin out of the SpaBooker platform from SpaFinder. A new entity, GramercyOne Technology Corp, was formed in October 2011 to facilitate the venture capital investment.
SUB: What have the biggest obstacles been so far to building the business?
McCarter: Initially, the biggest obstacle was the fact we were cloud based. Being cloud based three years ago was as much of a detriment then as it is a benefit now. With the adoption of cloud based services skyrocketing in both SMB and enterprise businesses, this is no longer a constraint. The economic downturn also posed challenges for the business, however it also brought opportunities. While many businesses were going out of business or not investing in their infrastructure, as many were trying to figure out how to become more efficient and access the new marketing channels, and therefore were intrigued by our offering. We were able to double our business every year during the downturn.
SUB: You recently raised $14.5 million in Series A funding. How do you plan to use the funds?
McCarter: In order to sustain the momentum we have built up over the last year, it’s necessary to grow the GramercyOne team, scale our operations and IT infrastructure in order to continue to provide our clients with secure, world-class, cloud-based solutions.
SUB: Why was this a good time to raise outside funding?
McCarter: We recognized the need to scale at a faster rate in terms of headcount, new product investments and partnership development and needed additional support from investors who brought not only money, but connections, business development support and strategic vision for how to evolve the company.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more funding in the near future?
McCarter: At this point, we likely won’t be looking for additional capital for at least 12-to-18 months.
SUB: What big goals do you have for GramercyOne over the next year?
McCarter: Building the team, expanding into more verticals, closing more enterprise deals, launching and expanding our freemium products, and several key business development partnerships.
GramercyOne – www.gramercyone.com