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“MEDIAWORKS” #6: Instartly

MediaWorks(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center is hosting its second annual “MediaWorks Demo Day” on August 11 at the Square Room on Market Square. To register, click here. Ahead of that event, we are profiling the nine companies in the start-up accelerator. This is one of those profiles.)

Instartly is one of nine companies participating in this year’s “MediaWorks” start-up accelerator program. We posed a set of questions to each of the entrepreneurs. Here are Mac Bartine’s responses.

  • When did you first conceive the idea for your new start-up? My partner first thought of the Instartly concept in December of 2014 when a friend approached him asking for help with a website, and also needing help with website hosting, professional phone and email services. He was regularly asked for help with different pieces of business communications – especially websites – and generally dreaded it because setting-up the accounts was a pain. He realized that he could create automation software that would do much of the busy work that needs to be done to create these accounts and websites for small businesses.
  • Describe the product or service you are offering? You can start or restart your entire customer-facing communications using an hour or less of your time with Instartly. We differentiate small B2B businesses from 9/10ths of their competition by providing them with a professional website that automatically modifies its design to fit on any sized screen, hosting, business phone and email: the most common elements of customer communications, all under one account so you always know who to contact with questions.
  • Why do you think the market is ready for this opportunity you are offering? Eighty percent of businesses make less than $100,000 per year, but if they want a professional “responsive” website (meaning the design changes to be easy to use on any size screen) from a reliable company, the average cost to them is over $5,000, plus hosting and maintenance fees. That’s too much of their available marketing budget (up to seven percent of gross revenue based on SBA recommendations) to be possible for most small businesses. On top of this high cost in dollars is the cost in time, which is often dozens of hours of the business owners’ time when they could otherwise be earning money. For these reasons of high monetary and time costs, 45 percent of businesses don’t have a website at all, and 80 percent of the 55% who do have a website have one that is not mobile friendly, which is now being penalized in search results by Google. And, the cost of these services continues to rise, while money becomes tighter for many of these business owners. These business owners could use a DIY website service like SquareSpace for $100 a year, but then they have to learn how to use that service, and take dozens of hours off work to build their own website. Most business owners who would appreciate saving the money through DIY services have no time or interest in actually using them. Enter Instartly: through software automation and carefully designed work processes, we deliver a responsive business website that includes a year of hosting, a business phone line so business owners don’t have to use their personal phone numbers for business, and five business email accounts on their domain name – all for just $599 a year, or $69 per month, and with a goal of using less than an hour of their time working with an Instartly Mentor to get their new business communications up and running.
  • What do you think are the two or three biggest challenges you face that “MediaWorks” will be able to help you overcome? Our two biggest challenges are: (1) clearly explaining to our potential customers the importance of our services to their business, and that we are not “too good to be true,” and (2) finding reliable and affordable ways to get new customers.
  • Finally, tell us a little about yourself such as hometown and education. I graduated from Harriman High School, and attended Berry College in Rome, GA for a BS in Psychology, followed by UTC for an MS in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. I am a partner in a successful local agency called VIEO Design, www.vieodesign.com, and in a personal motivation service called The Motivation Manager, www.themotivationmanager.com. I live in Knoxville with my wife Jill, who teaches yoga and plays flute in the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and I’m an enthusiastic step dad to her twin sons Owen and Noah.

Tom Ballard

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer,
Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.

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