Austin Andrukaitis has been helping people since he was in high school.
He’s now in the business of helping businesses — and helping businesses help each other — with ChamberofCommerce.com.
“I was fascinated by technology from an early age,” said the CEO. “I started building websites and developing software while I was in high school. I was able to launch thousands of microsites, generating income from AdSense revenue and affiliate commission. Once when I realized I could make a living creating websites and computer software, I was hooked.
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Website development continued in college and it took a more formal approach with the launch of an entrepreneurial internet business focused on helping small businesses with website development, SEO and internet advertising. . He was also looking for new business leads.
“That’s when I met David Bayerwho ran the Internet marketing company Databanq,” Andrukaitis said. “As I learned more about Databanq and its team, I wanted to learn as much as possible about building great brands online.”
One of the sites managed by Databanq was ChamberofCommerce.com.
“ChamberofCommerce.com is a powerhouse of ideas,” Andrukaitis said. “To begin with, we are taking all the services and benefits of the traditional Chamber and digitizing them. But it’s the business model that really excites me. We are able to develop new products and programs to meet the needs of our customers. We are able to help build relationships by offering networking opportunities based on all sorts of criteria – industry, geography, service, etc.
Bayer offered him a job. Andrukaitis agreed and stayed with Databanq for several years. When he was offered a job as CMO of a law firm, Andrukaitis could not pass up the opportunity.
“I was 25 and managing an annual marketing budget of $5 million,” said Andrukaitis. “It was an amazing experience. We generated thousands of leads every month using all available channels, from TV and radio to direct mail and internet marketing.
A step back
The entrepreneurial itch resurfaced after a few years. Andrukaitis was working as a CMO during the day and on his personal projects at night.
“I knew I wanted to develop a product that would benefit the small business community, but I wasn’t sure what form it would take or how it would present itself,” he said. “I found myself imagining what I would do with ChamberofCommerce.com if I owned the business, since I had a history with it.
“Two years later, the vision became reality when I acquired ChamberofCommerce.com.”
It focused on scaling up services and reflecting the opportunities offered by the typical local Chamber office, shaking up the status quo of how typical services are delivered.
It starts with a badge – both physical and digital – to display in a storefront or on a website, providing assurances of credibility and third-party liability.
“Our accreditation badge aggregates reviews from multiple online sources to give your customers insight into what people really think about your product or service,” Andrukaitis said. “I thought it was something that would make it easier to showcase your credibility online. In fact, most of the membership benefits we offer were selected based on direct experience of need or want. of these types of benefits for my other businesses.”
One of these benefits is a safety net in return.
“We designed Review Defender as a product that all small businesses can use,” Andrukaitis said. “In my experience, most negative reviews are written as revenge or as a result of a misunderstanding. I thought that wasn’t fair, because that might be a really accurate perception of the business. »
The software collects reviews by SMS, email or QR code. When negative reviews are identified, the software notifies the company before the review is made public.
“This allows the business owner to resolve the issue before the review is posted on websites where it is often impossible to remove..”
The power of volume
Just as large retailers can offer discounted prices based on volume, ChamberofCommerce.com builds similar buying power through membership.
“For example, we have partnered with Benefit Center“said Andrukaitis. “We are one of the first non-commercial customers to have access to the system. This type of access allows small businesses to benefit from the same advantages as large businesses. »
A member of ChamberofCommcere.com suggested the idea of engaging with Benefit Hub. Andrukaitis was delighted to receive the recommendation and happy to explore the possibility of a partnership.
“The idea that a customer saw a need and came up with a solution is part of why I wanted to be at this company,” Andrukaitis said. “We did research. We did the math. It was a good match so we launched the partnership. Now small businesses can offer more to their employees. This is the kind of power that a Chamber can bring to the community.
“Since we work with thousands of small businesses, we quickly get real feedback on what works, what they need to succeed, and the challenges they face. We also need to leverage the purchasing power of the group to help our members save money. With the volume, our members have access to a platform that most small businesses could not have used before.
Find new benefits
Part of his CMO job description was to demonstrate how marketing dollars translate into revenue for the company.
“With this requirement, it became very clear to me what advantages the big companies had over the little guys,” said Andrukaitis. “Once I understood the challenges small business owners face in managing, marketing, and running a business, I knew I could help them compete with big business.
Just like a local chamber of commerce, digitized.