Why We Invested: NowFloats

4th April 2016
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For small businesses, success or failure often depends less on finding customers than making sure customers can find you. The Internet has revolutionized this “push vs. pull” dynamic, but in markets like India, where digital adoption isn’t yet universal, being discovered can still be a challenge. That’s where NowFloats comes in, a service that makes it incredibly easy to launch a simple website, and even easier to keep it updated, so businesses can stay relevant to their customers and rise in online search results.

NowFloats already serves more than 250,000 paid customers in India, and it is growing fast. While India has the world’s second largest number of small businesses, accounting for more than 17% of the country’s GDP, most of these entrepreneurs believe they’re too small to have a website, or don’t have the technical skills to run one.

Think of local merchants, like a bakery, convenience store, or small clothing shop. In a developed market, most of these businesses would be searchable through their own websites, directory services, or social rating platforms such as Yelp. In India, businesses frequently change their phone numbers, and two out of three don’t have a website. NowFloats enables even the smallest businesses to launch a website with just three text messages from any type of phone.

More than that, the service encourages small business owners to stay relevant and drive continuous engagement with their customers by regularly updating their sites with new content. To make it easier, the platform allows them to use email or WhatsApp to post photographs and other content to their site. When businesses update their content often, NowFloats’ technology ensures their site shows up higher in Internet search results. That helps them be found by more customers, more easily, and it creates a virtuous circle. When Internet search becomes a daily tool, adoption rises, making it easier for consumers to find the services and things they need.

Most consumers prefer to buy goods and services from local vendors, so having updated product lists and current offers available online can be a useful tool.  That means they don’t have to store phone numbers of various shops and service outlets on their phones or share their information with retailers, which usually results in a deluge of text messages from local merchants. With NowFloats, a bakery can upload pictures of freshly baked cakes, or an eatery can post a happy hour special only available this week. And they can do it without relying on classified ads or an IT expert. This information is easily available to the consumer on the web or on the NowFloats app.

NowFloats is an example of our strategy to support Consumer Internet and Mobile (CIM) platforms and services that enable new digital solutions to connect people, allowing them to share ideas and do business more efficiently and at scale.