“If there’s a platform that already exists with millions of customers, it just makes sense to partner,” Kolluri said. “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Our platform becomes better if we’re able to plug into something like Yahoo Small Business.”
Cidewalk might be focused on the little guy, but small business is big business for the SMBs themselves. El Basha Restaurant, for example, a family-owned Boston area chain of three Mediterranean eateries, generally sees a 10% uptick in lunchtime traffic when it runs mobile campaigns through Cidewalk.
“These are small shops and their owners are not thinking about nationwide ad campaigns and they don’t have $100,000 or $500,000 budgets,” Kolluri said. “They’re thinking about today and they’re thinking local. From my perspective, location is one of the greatest gifts ever given to online marketers and mobile should be the local business owner’s weapon of choice.”
And there’s no doubt that the local mobile ad space is getting hot. Cidewalk claims that its run locally targeted mobile promotions for several thousand small businesses across the US since the service launched in October.
That’s a big part of the motivation behind the spinoff. And to help the new business unit along, Kolluri and his cofounder Alden DoRosario, also Chitika’s CTO, together are pouring $4 million in seed cash into the project.
“We’re just trying to get the service out there,” Kolluri said.
Founded in 2003, Chitika has three offices, two in Massachusetts and a third in India where it handles tech and development. The company, which has about 50 employees overall, including 15 who will be focusing exclusively on the Cidewalk business, has never pursued outside funding.