Yelp provides a compelling platform for small businesses to connect with consumers via deals, reviews, reservations, information and more.
But independent service professionals like hair stylists, bartenders, and DJs have a problem: if they jump from one establishment to another (which is quite common), they have a hard time taking their clientele with them. Enter Y Combinator-backed Opez, a platform that's looking to help these professionals keep in touch with their clients on a long-term basis, making it easy to keep them informed of any job changes or hot deals they're offering.
Of course, Facebook already offers Facebook Pages, which can be used for similar a similar purpose. But Co-founder Chris Tam says service professionals want to be able to engage customers but also maintain a distance, which is the problem with using Facebook Pages as their centralized business page. Tam adds that this product is built specifically for professionals in certain industries, such as DJs, bartenders, models, hair stylists, personal trainers, cooks, and waiters.
Service professionals can create a profile, upload photo galleries and videos, showcase work, create a vanity domain for their profile, and more. They can then encourage their customers to go to their Opez profile and follow them. Professionals can also post status updates and email their followers, but without either party seeing the other's email address.
So if a professional switches jobs, he can email his follower list, and keep people updated on where he is working next. He can also publish updates to Twitter and Facebook directly from Opez.
On the customer side, anyone can see the profile of a professional on Opez, but in order to follow someone, you need to create a profile yourself. You can then post reviews on a professional's page.
The idea of Opez could be powerful because it gives service professionals a platform that blends the parts of Twitter, Facebook and Yelp - and it fits a clear need. The question at this point is whether it is different enough from Facebook Pages that industry professionals will be willing to create a profile on yet another new network.
Initial results are encouraging: Tam says that the site is already seeing traction amongst bartenders, models, hair stylists and others. And he adds that a mobile app is in the pipeline.