EZBZ in Talks for Seed Funding Less than One Month after Launch

11/29/11Follow @jpruth

Shana Schlossberg believes her startup, EZBZ in New York, can help small businesses reach customers at the moment they are needed most. With its Web portal that launched on Nov. 8, EZBZ lets consumers post requests for goods and professional services that rival businesses make competing bids on as potential providers. Thus far, EZBZ is self-funded, though Schlossberg says she may secure seed funding within a few weeks.

When consumers post their needs and budgets to hire professionals such as lawyers, or to buy products such as business suits, alerts are sent via text message or e-mail to potential suppliers in EZBZ’s network. The potential providers can then respond with details about their pricing and even include pictures. All vendors can see each others’ bids, which lets them make counterbids until the customer makes a final choice. Schlossberg says the service is targeted at small and midsize businesses that want new ways to increase their client base. “We’re a dating services between consumers and businesses in real-time,” Schlossberg says.

Founded in March, EZBZ is free for consumers to post their needs, Schlossberg says. Businesses do not have to pay up front to register and use the platform. However, Schlossberg says if companies create promotional campaigns to capture additional clientele, the businesses pay a nominal fee of 50 cents per lead generated. She says in the future, she will try to generate revenue through ads that are tailored to what consumers procure through the platform. “Within three days that any girl creates an inquiry about beauty products, I could show her advertising of new mascara,” Schlossberg says. “It’s on her mind. We can get into that window of opportunity.”

Shana Schlossberg, founder of EZBZ

EZBZ has its work cut out for it to gain ground in this space. TaskRabbit, another New York startup, for example lets users post errands they need completed and the money they are willing to spend to for the tasks to be completed. Schlossberg says EZBZ has already signed up some 14,000 New York businesses as providers in her network. She says she tries to differentiate her company from its rivals by not selling customer leads and by not taking a cut in the middle. “Many businesses, for things like TaskRabbit or ServiceMagic, don’t want to be part of it because they have to pay up to 15 percent or more,” Schlossberg says.

EZBZ may also eventually dip its toes in Yelp’s waters. Customers at EZBZ can rate and write reviews about vendors but only the ones that they use through the platform. “It may take us longer to build a review base but it’s going to be more authentic,” Schlossberg says. She also plans to use public records database LexisNexis to further verify and rate the companies that provide services on the site.

Prior to EZBZ Schlossberg founded Israel Now, a Web portal in Israel that aggregates 25 local news websites, and previously worked for Amdocs, a software provider for billing in the telecommunications industry. She says she wants to recruit businesses across country to join the EZBZ network.

Schlossberg believes her business model may also appeal to small and midsize companies that are gun-shy of offering daily discounts to attract customers. “It is hard for them sometimes to manufacture a deal,” Schlossberg says, referring to merchants who are unsure what to mark down that would appeal to consumers. She says businesses in her network can make deals as needed when clients are eager for certain products. The trick, Schlossberg says, is to “grab the user at the moment of need.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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    This business model is not very well thought out. For example. Some person wants to buy a 15 dollar makeup kit. The merchant provider probably has a profit margin of about 2 dollars off the sale of the 15 dollar item.

    It’s unrealistic to expect a business to employ workers for the purpose of engaging in a lengthy consumer consultation and bidding war on the site in order to secure a 2 dollar net sale. So unless the site is trying to move very high end merchandise or services with generous profit margins that leave room for lots of labor costs, it’s not likely to be very conducive to generating effective leads for the business.