Richard Titus, CEO, Prompt.ly, describes its new product as “ a mobile platform for scheduling, payment and marketing for small business owners, specifically for people who sell services by the hour or the session ” Prompt.ly makes it very easy for any “solopreneur” or service provider to schedule appointments with clients, and receive credit card payments at no cost directly from their iOS and Android smartphones. Additionally, the application allows for self promotion on social media and over email and text message. From the demo I saw (see video), I can tell that the user experience is very intuitive and there is no doubt it will make small business owners lives way easier, particularly on the payment and invoicing side. According to Titus, “it is the fastest segment growing globally, Mary Meeker said it represents 54 million people in the U.S. and rising, or 31% of the population today. Outside of the U.S., it is growing even faster as people move from an employer economy to a self-employed or contractor economy”. As of today the computing device of choice is the smartphone, so it was logical for Prompt.ly to build a mobile platform to fulfill the needs of this new generation of solopreneurs. For instance, among the 15,000 Prompt. ly’s customers, less than 30% have a computer, but all of them have a smartphone. Three months after launch, Prompt.ly currently has 15,000 registered service providers and 25,000 downloads, but if you are a client, you do not need to download the application in order to schedule or pay for an appointment with a provider.
Prompt.ly main features are scheduling, accounting (payment and invoicing), and marketing, they are described in the video demo performed by co-founder and CEO Richard Titus.
In my opinion, one of the key innovations of Prompt.ly’s payment feature is to make it free for the service provider and charge it to the clients who want to use a credit card over cash or check. Most small businesses are often reluctant to pay the fee, since it represents a significant cut on their profit, while a majority of customers are fine with paying a small fee for the convenience of mobile payment with visa or other cards.
We know that mobile payment and convenient scheduling via an app were the two key factors for the mass adoption of car services over traditional taxis. In addition to payment, the application provides an easy to set up invoicing system, and I personally would like to see it linked to the standard accounting software, namely Quickbook, in the future.
As for the business model, Prompt.ly is free to download and the company charges a very small fee on each credit card transaction made. Most likely, solopreneurs who might use this platform are yoga teachers, babysitters, housekeepers, personal trainers, tattoo artists, psychologists, dog walkers, accountants, lawyers…. Today, Prompt.ly features 17000 services and 3000 service type providers and the numbers are growing.