With all the handwringing about the future of local business, a startup called Alignable aims to connect those businesses and help them work together.
The company was co-founded by Eric Groves (formerly a senior vice president at Constant Contact) and Venkat Krishnamurthy. Groves, who’s the company’s CEO, said that most local businesses don’t have a way to work with each other or even know what’s going on at stores down the road.
“It’s amazing how local businesses truly feel like they’re alone,” he said.
With Alignable, on the other hand, businesses can connect with each other, send each other messages, and post to a communal news feed for their town. One common use case, Groves said, is to can mutually promote their sales and events through their various Facebook followings and email lists. Another use case is asking for advice, like how to obtain a certain permit.
As an example, Groves showed me the page for Hollister, Calif. the small town where I used to work as a newspaper reporter. There was a fair amount of activity, with a post from the Hollister Downtown Association about an upcoming beer and wine tour at the top of the feed, and many of the businesses having reposted it to their own Facebook Pages.
Even though the company hasn’t done much marketing or press, Groves said Alignable is now being used by tens of thousands of communities in all 50 states of the US. In many cases, he said the initial interest is driven by downtown associations, main street organizations, and chambers of commerce. (However, he noted that the community pages aren’t controlled by any one entity — anyone can post what they want.)
Alignable has raised $3 million in funding led by Saturn Partners (an early Constant Contact investor), with participation from NextView, LF-VC, Boston Seed, Longworth Partners, and CrunchFund. (Like TechCrunch, CrunchFund was co-founded by Michael Arrington. Also, Arrington was sitting a few yards away from me as I wrote a lot of this post.)