With more than 1 million registered users and 87 million company profiles, Manta has established itself as a hub where small businesses can be found…and find each other. Now, having raised a fresh round of $44 million in funding from Norwest Venture Partners, Manta has its sights set on several ambitious growth targets — evolving into a deep SMB referral engine, full-serve marketing toolbox and ultimately a commerce network.
In a recent conversation with BIA/Kelsey, Manta CEO Pamela Springer shared her vision for how Manta’s growth initiatives can further empower the SMB online marketplace.
Fundamentally, Manta sees itself as a platform, not just a portal. Growth will spawn from platform infrastructure — “the ability to do things at scale” based on deep data acquisition that can spur “relationship acquisition.” The network continually enables more business content within listings — Twitter feeds (with embedded “follow me” button) can now be integrated — to enrich its data trove.
An example of platform mentality in action in under way with the “Manta Recommend” feature that was rolled out as part of the company’s Social Connections suite. Businesses can solicit and receive recommendations on their profile pages (there are already more than 40,000), then repackage these testimonials (not ratings) as widgets for placement on websites.
Business content can also be shared across various social networks, with a goal of allowing others to comment on it and then follow it into Manta. Springer calls this a business’ own personal “news river” on and through Manta.
Leveraging its deep data assets, Manta is eyeing a self-service ads platform that could command high CPMs. “You can take a snippet of content that you’ve already created and turn it into an ad.” This is consistent with other emerging native concepts such as Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, which aim for frictionless ad experiences that emanate from organic content.