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Three finalists in the SMB Future Stars Local Liftoff Award Competition each gave 6-minute presentation on their start-up business then faced tough questions from two season entrepreneur judges, Shark Tank style. Now it’s up to the voters.

The Judges

Randy Parker, founder of Constant Contact

Dave Walker, founder of BizHive


The Finalists

Local Viewpoints

A Chicago-based company that helps local businesses create review content via 60-second phone based surveys. No typing is required to generate the reviews, though consumers can add anonymous comments. The company started writing code last October, and began selling to businesses in April.

The reviews are generally positive because the capture consumers immediately following their experience with a business. The reviews help drive search results and offer a counterweight to Yelp, where a few negative reviews can be substantially damaging to a local business.

Further, businesses can use the data to manage their operations, comparing review scores of one location against another and so on. The product is sold as a SaaS for $299 per year, plus $29 per month. The target audience is muti-location local businesses.


Local Brain offers targeted in-store promotions using low energy bluetooth technology, which wakes up its app when a consumer enters the store, then sends the consumer targeted offers. The offers are designed to increase the merchants basket size.

The company hopes to white label this service and sell it through local media companies, notably newspapers.

The app is not for individual stores participating but rather resellers would build a local club of participating merchants each with targeted offers. This somewhat offsets the issue of app fatigue since it requires one app rather than many. The “big idea” behind Local Brain is that gives SMBs the capability that has generally been available to large national brands.


This is a click to call product designed to help local media companies to monetize mobile inventory. The companies founders admit that they are not the first to the pay per call game, but say their differentiation is that it allows newspapers, which have not yet been active in PPC, to get in the game.

The idea of PPC is to shorten distance between first exposure to an ad and conversion. The company has trialed its product with the Dallas Morning News, which tested it in four verticals. the result was 20 to 50 calls per month per advertisers, generating annualized revenue of $1.4 million in annualized revenue in the course of four weeks.

Voting will be open until 9 p.m. Central time this evening. Voters can send an email to with the company they are voting for in the subject line. The winner will be announced Friday morning at 8:30 a.m., the beginning of the final day of SMB Digital Marketing here in Austin, TX.

Update: The voters have spoken and Local Viewpoints was declared the winner of this year’s Local Liftoff Awards. Congratulations to Local Viewpoints and its CEO Gib Olander, as well as the runners up.

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