When Ben Carcio was in high school, his parents decided to buy a shuttered retailer in his small town. At first they weren’t sure what to do with it, but they eventually settled on reopening it as a package store (an independent beer, wine and liquor store for you non-New Englanders).
Carcio’s parents had no experience in retail, so they did what made sense to them — they asked the brands they were selling for help.
To his parent's surprise, the brand response was astonishing. They provided the little store with neon signs, in-store displays, local marketing plans and special planograms.
This symbiotic relationship would inspire Carcio's (pictured right) startup Promoboxx, a brand-to-retailer digital marketing platform.
The idea behind the SaaS platform is that independent retailers are, well, independent. If they want to run a marketing campaign for a product, it has to be on their terms.
“Independent business people are independently minded,” Carcio said. “Our platform gets retailers excited to participate by marketing the campaign to the retailer. We ask them to participate; we don’t tell them to.”
Promoboxx invites independent retailers to promote co-branded content across their digital channels like Facebook and Twitter, offering them the chance to earn ad dollars for actions and tap into new audience members.
The Boston-based startup makes sure it’s easy for retailers to participate — allowing them to launch an email marketing campaign with the click of a button.
“It’s like being invited to a party,” Carcio said. “Even if you don’t go to it, it’s nice to be invited. Once retailers say yes we take them through a very simple checkout process of sending emails out and posting to Facebook and Twitter. In a matter of minutes, they have a full marketing campaign.”
Today, Promoboxx has over $10.45 million in funding and is used by dozens of leading brands like Reebok, Chevrolet, New Balance and General Electric across more than 13,000 independent retailers. Carcio founded the company in Boston in 2010 with co-founders Dan Koziak, Jamie Fiedler and Sonciary Honnoll.
Thinking back on his parents’ business, Carcio isn’t too surprised at Promoboxx’s success. Small stores have great access to local customers, but they don’t know how to market to them — which sometimes leads to silly jingles or cheesy TV commercials.
“We all laugh at these local businesses trying to do marketing with social media or jingles,” Carcio said. “They have a lot of enthusiasm but not the marketing skillset that big brands have with professional copywriters and such.”
Carcio sees Promoboxx eventually working with hundreds of brands at tens of thousands of locations around country and “being the standard by which brands connect with local stores that sell their product.”
“Brands traditionally don’t do a great job supporting local retailers with digital and online marketing. They often ignore them. So we’re the digital equivalent of a sales representative saying, ‘Hey, how can we help you?’”
The Promoboxx team is currently just under 40 people, but Carcio expects this number to double over the next few years. He’s currently hiring roles in sales, client services, engineering and product.
If you land one of the open jobs there, you can look forward to a culture of transparency and Promoboxx traditions like Pancake Breakfasts, Froyo Fridays and Happy Hours at the office bar.
Image via social media