Recommendations from friends is the most trusted form of advertising, according to a 2009 Nielsen’s Global Online Consumer Survey of more than 25,000 internet consumers. Heroic, an online platform created to facilitate trusted referrals, announced that it has released its free personal recommendation site for service providers at http://www.beheroic.com/. The platform will initially be available in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area, where it will feature thousands of local service providers from plumbers to event catering.
Heroic is “everyone’s personal referral network” says CEO Justin Barrett. “Overwhelmingly, people prefer a personal referral from someone they know and trust when hiring a service provider, particularly for the home. Heroic facilitates this natural behavior.
Barrett is one of four co-founders, all from the Minneapolis area. The team assembled in April of 2012 to pitch their idea at the Minnesota Cup, an annual competition that seeks to accelerate the best breakthrough ideas in Minnesota. A runner-up placement in the high-tech division motivated the four to continue product and customer development. After bootstrapping Heroic to launch, the company is now backed by a small number of local angel investors.
Users connect to Heroic through their Facebook account or email address. As a result, members can easily find and follow their most trusted friends to start sharing recommendations. To share a recommendation, a user first inputs the name, contact information, and a short review of the provider that they would like to recommend. Currently, the community has hundreds of service providers in over 50 categories, all of whom have been carefully curated by the site’s early adopters. A search to discover a new service professional will return personalized results based on your friend’s recommendations.
Heroic is not a ratings site. The company’s co-founders believe that ratings sites have become overcrowded and are no longer relevant. The validation of a trusted friend’s recommendation is more powerful than ratings from strangers, the team believes.
Citing the same Nielsen report, Barrett points out that consumer opinions posted online by unknown users are trusted by only 70 percent of consumers. The team believes that this number will continue to decline as ratings sites struggle to establish trust in the sources of those ratings.
“People only turn to ratings sites or a Google search when they do not have a personal referral,” adds Barrett. “With Heroic, we’re trying to make it easier to access those referrals.”
Heroic also incorporates tools for service businesses to foster referral customers. Currently, there is no efficient way for small service businesses to thank their customers, ask for a referral and track the results all in one place. This gives businesses that have been recommended on Heroic the ability to maximize the power of a customer testimonial in real-time. The platform is free for businesses as well, but the team plans to add a paid-premium upgrade in the future.
Heroic is a free place to share recommendations of favorite service providers. A personal referral from a friend or neighbor is the best way to hire a service professional. Users can store categorized lists of favorite businesses ready for re-hire, discover new professionals through personal recommendations, and share a favorite provider with a group of trusted friends. When ready to hire, a user can contact a service provider directly from the Heroic platform to inquire about booking. The company is currently available in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul market and features hundreds of service providers, all user verified through recommendations. The company was founded by Justin Barrett (CEO), Ethan Otterlei (CTO), Reed Robinson (CPO), and Dan Linstroth (CMO).
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