Talklocal, Interview with Manpreet Singh

Manpreet-SinghTalklocal, formerly Seva Call, a Washington D.C.-based operatore of a local services marketlace, has just raised $2.6m in Series A Funding (read here). One of the co-founders, Manpreet Singh (photo) answered pur questions about the company, the platform, the funding and future plans.

FinSMEs: Hi Manpreet. First, can you tell us a little bit more about you? What’s your background?
Manpreet: Even before co-founding talklocal, start-ups and entrepreneurship have always been a major part of my life. I co-founded a social media site while in high-school, worked as Employee #1 at investment firm that focused on tech investments, and majored in it at Wharton Business School where I earned my M.B.A.

FinSMEs: Let’s speak about talklocal. What’s the opportunity you found in the market?
Manpreet: talklocal is a local services marketplace that’s free to consumers and gets them talking on the phone with a top-rated business that matches in about 90 seconds.
Until now, local businesses and consumers have been struggling to connect through vastly different channels. Most consumers research local businesses online, while plumbers, painters, and other local pros still rely on print and phone directories to drive inbound calls.
With talklocal, even businesses that are virtually non-existent online and who may not even know talklocal exists, can connect with the local consumers they want to reach… Just by picking up the phone and pressing “5”.

FinSMEs: Tell me something about the features…
Manpreet: First, let me tell you how it works.
Step 1: The consumer visits www.talklocal and enters their service request details and contact information.
Step 2: talklocal’s algorithm compares businesses and contacts the right ones based on service area, service type, online consumer reviews, call analytics, and other quality assurance indicators.
Step 3. Consumers pick up the phone to hear from a local pro who heard their job details and wants to help on the consumer’s schedule.
talklocal features include…
– A proprietary algorithm that aggregates and compares business information and quality assurance indicators.
– A VoIP alert system that contacts matching pros by phone, provides important details about the lead, and gives businesses the option to press “5” to speak to consumers.
– Free lead previews and a Pay-Per-Conversation deal for businesses, meaning they only pay when they choose to speak with a consumer and connects in real time.

FinSMEs: What’s the real advantage it brings?
Manpreet: For consumers, the real advantage is getting immediate, personalized customer service from the right business the first time.
For businesses: talklocal local is a low-cost, low-risk way to engage the right online consumers without spending hours behind a computer screen or hundreds on digital marketing, and that’s a huge advantage.

FinSMEs: Where are you now in terms of growth? Some numbers?
Manpreet: We’ve served 49 states, 9000 zipcodes, and have called businesses with consumer leads over 1 million times. We started driving significant revenue last year and it’s steadily growing. We have a 7 member team.

FinSMEs: You just raised a funding round. What can you tell me about the process? Was it easy?
Manpreet: Raising funds is never easy, nor should it be. The challenge is to build a great business model, believe in it, and get others to believe in it… And to do all of that without fooling anybody- yourself, most importantly.

How are you using the funds?
Manpreet: We’re using the funds to double down on marketing and advertising as we expand nationally, build up our client and customer services teams, and to build an even stronger foundation for our most successful verticals- home services like Heating and Cooling.
One small, somewhat regrettable but necessary expense: our new office space near University of MD College Park. I’m excited about the new talent it will attract and the collaboration the office will inspire, but it’s a bittersweet moment when your start-up outgrows the basement forcing you to leave the nest in search of corporate real estate. It’s like learning to fly, but with parking considerations.

FinSMEs:…next steps?
Manpreet: In addition to an iPhone and Android mobile app set to launch in the coming weeks, talklocal is also building a number of partnerships with other startups, community leaders, and social media influencers to add value, increase access, and diversify our distribution.



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