EZBZ uses technology and the Internet to create a marketplace for businesses that does not hinge on first-page Google placement or the most beautiful website. Consumers go to EZBZ’s site and simply post a query for a product or service, EZBZ identifies and notifies local vendors that offer the product or service via an email or text, and the vendors then have the opportunity to respond with a bid giving pricing and availability. Founder and CEO Shana Schlossberg explains the technology allows the customer to describe in his own way what it is he needs and then it finds every small business in his area that could fill the need. Its patented artificial intelligence technology not only searches through all sources on the Internet to create a profile of the business, it contacts each business to verify it is still operating. Businesses can decide, “Do I want to take part? Can we meet the person’s price or time frame?” Schlossberg explains.
The key advantage to local businesses is being able to compete with large corporations even if they do not have a website, search ranking or advertising budget. Businesses pay $1 to respond to a customer’s request, or they can sell through EZBZ as “real-time commerce” for a flat $3 transaction fee. Trying to create an alternative to the ubiquitous “pay to play” model, Schlossberg says her intent was to truly level the playing field. “There are businesses that have been operating for many years but don’t have a beautiful website or the tech savvy to be first on Google.” EZBZ’s method also helps businesses that are single operators — and cannot catch every phone call — to not miss opportunities.
“We’re growing at about 1,000 businesses a day,” Schlossberg says. The core growth is from the technology that finds the businesses and adds them to the data base — at no cost to the business — but there is also organic growth as organizations get involved.
Such a partnership was announced last month between EZBZ and Local First Arizona. Schlossberg says she met Local First Arizona director Kimber Lanning at a White House summit with the American Sustainable Business Council, and found they shared a passion to improve the odds for small business. They created a joint venture between EZBZ and LFA that enables users to identify LFA-member businesses, and, says Lanning, “When a consumer chooses a local business over a national chain, up to four times more money stays and recirculates in the local economy. Our partnership with EZBZ will help connect Arizonans with local businesses in a quick and easy way, offering value to our members and keeping dollars in the local economy. It’s a win-win for everyone.”