Telnic Eyes Opportunity in Enabling SoHo Businesses
By: Charles Laughlin 24 May 2012
London-based Telnic is carving out an interesting role for itself as an online enabler of small businesses. Telnic is the organization that offers the .tel top level domain, which for GBP 14.95 per year provides a simple Web presence that enables individuals and businesses to store all their contact information (email, Web address, social presence) in a single, searchable profile.
The company has developed this into an online presence product (branded Telnames) that is optimized for smartphones and is targeting (among others) the small-office, home office business.
Imagine the office manager by day, licensed hypnotherapist by evening and weekend, and there lies the SoHo opportunity. There are millions of these micro businesses around the world and they share some common traits. Most have only a crude Web presence, which is likely not mobile optimized. Many operate their businesses without a dedicated landline, and most are accustomed to using self-service, since they are too small or too hard to find to gain the additional of a live sales force. This is an area where Telnic is focused, for now in the U.K. Telnic has formed marketing partnerships, for example, with various small-business and professional societies in Britain in order to reach more of these small, independent businesses.
We recently caught up with Telnic CMO Ian Bowen-Morris. He believes the big shift to smartphone usage bodes well for a mobile-ready micro-presence product like .tel.
“Our view is that the huge growth in smartphone penetration and mobile searching presents an excellent opportunity for businesses to generate leads. What all businesses need is a simple place that they can point people to so they can be reached quickly from any device.
“A .tel name is very low cost. It’s easy to use and can be updated with a few clicks at any time. It is valuable as a stand-alone Web presence or a mobile-friendly enhancement to an existing Web presence,” Bowen-Morris said.
Bowen-Morris said he is in discussions with directory publishers in the U.K., and elsewhere, about using the Telnic API to build a custom branded environment for offering .tel as part of a presence bundle, or as part of a managed service, which could command a much higher price point for resellers. Through the API, publishers can register the .tel names and upload merchant business profile info. Bowen-Morris says next on the list for Telnic are apps that allow registry and management of .tel names via iPhone or Android.