Why Yext Pivoted to Business Listings

They say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but what about 100 in the bush?

Over the past year we’ve reinvented Yext and I’d like to tell you about it.  Since 2007, we’ve built an industry leading pay-per-phone-call business.  Yext Calls works really well in about 15 verticals that contain about 200,000 potential business locations in the United States.  We’d built a good business and there were several companies that even wanted to buy it.

Many entrepreneurs would be pleased with that outcome.  But about a year ago, as we worked with dozens of local search partners and tens of thousands of local businesses, a much bigger and potentially more significant problem emerged – “The Listings Problem” – and we saw an opportunity to solve it.  This problem involves not just 200,000 businesses, but 20,000,000 businesses in the US alone.  So, in addition to growing Yext Calls, we decided to break ground on solving The Listings Problem, all while making sure our Calls business was sufficiently well-resourced to capitalize on its own opportunity, still very large in its own right.

Launching a brand new product within an existing growth company is no simple feat, but I am pleased to report that it’s possible, especially if you are lucky enough to have the amazing people at the company that I did.  Step 1 is to get them behind you – and those that aren’t need to go.

Step 2 is to have an awesome new product idea that solves a huge problem, which we had.  Yext’s new product is all about business listings, which we believe are the basic building blocks to local advertising.  Business listings are incredibly important to a business – nearly everyone consults them before choosing a local business – but they’re practically impossible to manage.  This is because the average business is listed (or not!) in hundreds of different local search indexes, 411 databases, yellow pages, online directories, mobile sites, social networks, and more.  Imagine the complexity for a business that wants to change its phone number or moves addresses.  Or get special offers and content like pictures up on dozens of places in time for a flash deal.  All this is multiplicatively more complicated for businesses with hundreds or thousands of locations.

We set out to solve this huge problem and actually make business listings simple with a revolutionary new product called PowerListings.  With PowerListings, businesses can take control of their listings from a single point to get their info corrected, put up photos, specials offers and more, and see clicks and impressions on their listings.  All of these updates happen very quickly and the whole system is very affordable.  We built the product about 6 months and got it to market about 100 days ago.

Step 3 is to get a bunch of customers for your newly launched product, and I’m pleased to report that in the past 100 days, an astounding 4,000 paying customers have signed up for PowerListings subscriptions.  This has blown away all of our internal goals, and we believe our efforts to deliver a great product at a great value will keep us ahead of this pace.  We’ve raised $10 million from our inside investors led by WGI Group to accelerate this growth and experience to make PowerListings an essential system for every business.

Now, we’re really focused on solving the listings problem and making business listings simple. Getting momentum behind a second product isn’t easy, but it’s doable.  With the right team in the right market, anything’s possible ….Onward

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