[UK] Brownbook, the business directory, has integrated seed data for nearly 4 million businesses for several countries to fill up their pages and grow the site’s index to 34 million listings. A move that is clearly an investment on their part to reach new countries and increase activity where they already have coverage.
Brownbook’s approach is quite different from many well known local business listings sites. The startup boasts their wiki-like approach vs. stale yellow page heavy weights. Anyone can add a business, edit its information and review it. Businesses can then verify and claim their listings, getting their hands on tools to integrate additional content, such as a Facebook profile, Youtube Channel, Flicker photostream, Twitter posts, etc., to dress up and promote their profile.
The democratic, self-service approach helps Brownbook grow user participation and keep down the costs, says the company.
There’s still no business model in place, however, but Co-founder Marc Lyne says “right now, we are concentrating on making the service better for businesses all over the world and not on revenue.” Traffic is at over half a million unique visitors a month and growing. Brownbook would rather buy into quantity (purchase, aggregate and clean up listings) and invest time into quality developing tools for businesses.
What will the future business model look like? In light of Yelp’s latest lawsuits from angry customers, Brownbook is staying away from intervening in reviews, but will eventually offer additional self-service features to help SMBs leverage their online presence and generate more business.