When it comes to Canadian startup hotbeds, St. John's doesn't appear often on the radar. So it was attention-worthy when Thrive Software jumped into the spotlight after it was recently named one of 30 finalists in the 2011 Intuit Apps Showcase.
"We're a bit of an anomaly," said Elliot Yeo, who heads up sales and marketing for Thrive. "There are other tech companies in St. John's but, as far as Web apps go, we're about it."
The fact that Thrive captured the attention of Intuit Inc., which makes the popular QuickBooks accounting software for small businesses, illustrates how online startups can – excuse the pun – thrive anywhere if they have a good idea, committed entrepreneurs and a healthy dose of good luck.
Thrive is starting to gain traction with an interesting and cost-effective online service for small and independent retailers that helps them improve how they do sales and marketing.
To take advantage of Thrive, retailers complete a survey, which includes details such as total sales and how much they spend on advertising, as well as sales goals and financial projections. Then they manually count the number of customers who visit their store.
In the background, Thrive's technology calculates how many of a store's visitors actually made a purchase (conversion rates) and the value of these transactions. This information is then crunched and analyzed against spending on sales and marketing to provide a storeowner with quantitative information and tangible recommendations on how to improve how they are doing business.
Mr. Yeo said recommendations are automatically generated by Thrive's expert knowledge database, which gleans information provided in the survey by the storeowner.
Thrive's application engine provides a storeowner with a prioritized list of recommendation to get the maximum improvement with the least amount of effort.
"The recommendations are tailored to the storeowners," Mr. Yeo said. "Depending on the surveys that storeowners fill out, we calculate the areas they have been working on and the areas they haven't been working on."
Thrive was started by Bill Jackman and Andrew Goldsworthy as a small business consultancy. Over time, they decided to automate the process by developing an online application.
Development was completed last summer, and the public beta recently launched with more than 20 retailers participating so far.
Thrive costs $49.99 a month but it is offering a special monthly beta price of $20.
Mr. Yeo said Thrive's service was designed to be accessible to small retailers who don't have the technical expertise or budgets of larger retailers which can gain access to sophisticated and robust point-of-sales and customer relationship-management systems.
Mr. Yeo said Thrive's initial customers are seeing significant results. A good example, he said, is House to Home, a St. John's home décor retailer, which has seen its average transaction value jump by 43 per cent while adding 15,000 new customers into its database after Thrive recommended it start collecting customer information.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.
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