OpenTable Founder Launches Glyder, a Mobile-First SMB Marketing App

Startup Glyder believes that small business owners don’t always have time to go home after they close their restaurant, beauty parlor, or massage clinic and hop on their computers to create an email campaign that will engage existing customers and introduce new ones to their business. The San Francisco-based company launched today to help small business owners create, send and manage marketing messages from their iPhone, everything from promotions, to surveys, to coupons. The company raised a seed round earlier this year from 500 Startups and other private investors.

Co-founded by Glenn Allen, previously co-founder of OpenTable, and Alan Wells, a Zynga mobile designer, the duo came together to help small businesses find more cost-effective marketing strategies. “I started off with a real big interest in small businesses, and transformed my experience with OpenTable into marketing with small businesses, and he was doing design for small businesses. And over the years, we just got increasingly frustrated with the inefficiencies and the expense that was being put off to these small businesses,” said Allen in an interview with BetaKit. “[We started Glyder] to give them a tool that would allow them to create messages to look good enough and professional enough that they would be proud and happy to share it.”

The app aims to be a complete marketing suite in one iPhone app, with pre-written and quickly customizable campaigns. Business owners can choose from a variety of templates, for example one that sends a thank you note to customers, or one that sends out a daily deal, with the option to customize everything from colors to text. They can then share with customers via email, SMS, and a variety of social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. The app is also targeting other iPhone users, since recipients with iOS 6 can add deals, sales or other promotions to their Passbook. Allen said the goal is for small business owners to be able to start, customize, and send out a campaign on their break or when business is slow.

“Something that’s important for the Glyder app is templates…content creation in a minute or less. A lot of struggles for small businesses is knowing what to say and how to say it,” Allen said. “The message is 90 percent done for them. We definitely want the whole idea of sending a Glyder to be as easy and sending a text message or writing a Tweet, and being able to do it that quickly.”

The app is free to download and use, and instead of taking a monthly subscription approach like other online marketing tools, the company is focused on micro in-app transactions. It offers premium templates, more targeted pre-written campaigns, and other distribution options for $0.99 each. The model was inspired by Wells’ experience with Zynga, having worked on the social gaming giant’s first two mobile games, and it could be a lot more cost-effective for businesses than the subscription models offered by email marketing tools like MailChimp, and campaign-based platforms like Google-owned Wildfire (depending on how often a business owner sends out promotions, and how often they purchase templates).

There are plenty of startups looking to make life easier for small businesses who want to get up and running with online promotions as quickly and easily as possible. One of them is Smore, which lets people create online flyers, or Smore pages, from a variety templates, that are optimized for web, mobile, and tablet devices. Another startup BetaKit also recently covered is Zapd, which lets anyone create a fully functional website from its iPhone app. However, Glyder’s mobile-first approach to online marketing and emphasis on pre-written campaigns and templates may help the startup gain traction with time-strapped business owners.

“A lot of the services that are out there are web-first, we had a belief that mobile-first was the best way to get to this market, and to give them a tool they could start using right away. Without the hassle of trying to come up with content on their own and also make it look nice…so it could become a new standard of messaging, so they could…create that bond with the people following their business,” Allen added.

With small businesses increasingly trying to find new customers and engage existing ones while still trying to run their business, Glyder’s offering might hit the right notes with on-the-go business owners. Being iPhone-only will limit their pool of potential users, so if Glyder can go cross-platform, while also selling in-app upgrades, it could find a home among small business marketers.


Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan is a Senior Writer and Analyst at BetaKit. A marketing graduate with honors, Humayun's work experience spans the fields of consumer behaviour with noted contributions in an academic paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and market research consulting having coordinated projects for a major financial services client at Decode Inc. More recently he was involved in business strategy as a Business Analyst for an equipment rental outlet and prior in the National Marketing Department at Ernst & Young LLP. He is passionate about emerging and disrupting technology and its ability to transform and create entirely new industries.

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