When we started out to create locatile.com, we did not do it alone. We want to thank our families and close friends who gave feedback, resources and encouragement. Building a virtual marketplace during the pandemic means our spouses and children have been intimately involved and we appreciate their support and also sharing this journey with them. We care deeply about the health of the local economy, and we believe locatile.com can make a positive impact, and having our children involved has been very special.
During the early stages the Illinois Small Business Development Center at McHenry County College helped us expedite our incorporation as well as make important legal and financial determinations. Resulting in mentorship and marketing/PR support from Sue Dobbe of Dobbe Marketing and PR. These consultations and resources helped shape our business model, marketing strategy and launch planning. We highly recommend the ISBDC not only for those considering a startup, also for those looking to expand an existing business. This grant funded program is a resource available to businesses in McHenry County and their services include:
- business advising, guiding business growth
- timely courses where you can network with other small-business owners
- entrepreneurial resources including assistance obtaining funding
The development of a multi-merchant virtual marketplace has many complexities, including fulfillment. As we determined how to best execute options for shipping and local pickup, Jackie Speciale of MAC Automation provided business coaching to help us flush out scenarios as we refined the minimum viable product for our business. She was a great sounding board and generous with her time and advice.
locatile.com was made possible by the web development and design prowess of Peak3 Digital and Mowgli Studios, as well as sound tax advice by Jason Firak, CPA. The work with these partners has just begun, and the countless hours already in the books has resulted in a website that is designed for the customer and for the backend functionality for our merchant partners. We took on removing headaches and obstacles for small shops that typically deter them from selling online, and we are grateful to Peak3 for their commitment to making this a reality.
We would be remise not to mention the 33 generous individuals who contributed to our startup campaign on GoFundMe. Their confidence in our business idea raised $4,175 towards our $10,000 goal. This funding helped expedite our rate to market and provided the seed money to build the eCommerce platform. When people shop at a local independent business 68% of each dollar impacts the local economy, and these startup donors helped us build a sales channel that will help consumers shift online spending from national retailers to small businesses. We’re almost half way to our goal, and any future contributions will just further the services we provide to the merchants and investments into our platform development.
In November of 2020 we embarked with the vision to support our community and communities like ours by the development and marketing of an eCommerce Marketplace for small independent businesses, and we grateful for the many who helped make this a reality. We can’t wait to share data and the impact made on each zip code with merchants on locatile.com. Our mission is for people to really connect with what it means to shop and support small. That if you #thinklocalfirst even when online shopping you can make a difference to a small business owner. Even if it’s not in your town, you can learn a little bit about each store and know your online spending made a difference to their dream, to their employees and in their community.