Interesting: Franchising Local

22 May
2007

I came across Mini Cities late yesterday, and it is an interesting model.

The basic gist is simple. Properly covering a large area of local is difficult – the manpower required is quite intensive. So – why not build a stable platform/system that allows a person to quickly setup a website for his/her local area?

The definition of local seems to be amorphous here, as ‘New Tampa’ is not really a city per se, more of an area/locale (if you live there, you know what it is). As such, this means it is exclusively geared for local residents (about 25% of our traffic on iBegin Toronto are tourists).

The sites themselves are not bad. They have made the urls fully search engine readable (though the actual url structure is odd – eg seems to include ‘restaurants’ and ‘coupons’ in all of them). The standard items of local interest are here – events, business listings, coupons.

The ads (where I expect most of the revenue will come from) are all on-site links to locations with coupons. I think of this as a shrewd move – having people using these coupons with local businesses proves to the business that there is viable traffic and leads – much easier to sell ads later.

I do wish the sites were more customized design-wise. I did notice that the logos are unique, but otherwise the designs are identical. I think it would be a great idea if they had a dozen or so templates – franchises will want a bit more control over the design, and being locked into one standardized one isn’t that. The events also need a calendar – a listing is nice, but I (along with many others I am sure) prefer a calendar-view.

Regardless – the question at the end is how well the company will be able to sell franchises (and for how much). I am sure people are itching to try their hand at making money from a website, and the ability to do it locally seems very appealing to me. Time will tell if they have the right ingredients.

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