BestVendor, a New York startup that uses social recommendations to help small businesses make purchasing decisions, has raised $600,000 in seed funding. The round was led by SoftBank Capital and Lerer Ventures and also included SVAngel and Peter Thiel.
“Our vision is to become the first place people turn whenever they need to figure out what to buy for their business, much like Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is for books and Yelp is for restaurants,” said BestVendor CEO Jeff Giesea, who previously founded B2B media and lead-generation business FierceMarkets, which he sold in 2008.
BestVendor aims to connect small businesses and vendors by crowdsourcing product reviews and recommendations. In a give-to-get model similar to the one used by salary information site Glassdoor.com, the site’s users are required to rate a few of the products they use in their businesses, and receive free access to the other reviews on the site in exchange. The site ranks product categories like collaboration software, web hosting providers and payroll companies based on the reviews. Users can filter the reviews by industry and company size and can ask for recommendations from people in their social network–LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) to start with; the site will add Facebook and Twitter later.
BestVendor is currently in alpha launch and users can sign up for a beta invitation. The site’s business model is ultimately to drive revenue from “enhanced vendor listings, various pay-for-performance options and transactional reviews.”
Other members of the team include head of product Ben Zhuk, who previously worked in product management at Amazon, and head of engineering Magnus von Koeller.