Companies can embed the software in their own website or Facebook page, providing a tool for merchants who’d rather not build their own booking software.
Who: Ryan Hamlin, founder and CEO of PlaceFull
What it does: PlaceFull develops booking software that allows online browsers to reserve and pay for everything from an art class to a day’s rental of the Seattle Aquarium.
Growing pains: Hamlin, who helped build MSN’s auto and home listings in the 1990s, envisioned PlaceFull as something similar. He soon realized the challenge of persuading merchants to come to a no-name startup, so he flipped the model and went to businesses instead.
The solution: PlaceFull was redesigned as software that companies could embed in their own website or Facebook page, providing a tool for merchants who’d rather not build their own booking software (though PlaceFull’s marketplace still exists, too). PlaceFull’s customers, through a partnership announced last week, also have a “book it” button appear in the merchant’s Bing search results.
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The niche: Sites from Expedia to Hotels.com make travel booking a crowded field, OpenTable does the same for restaurants. Hamlin saw a gap in “events and activities” — think batting cages, event space, wine tastings — particularly for the generation loath to pick up the phone or write an email to make a reservation. “In three years, if consumers don’t find booking on your website, they’re going to go somewhere else,” he says.
Figures: Sales topped $1 million in 2014, though the company isn’t profitable yet. Two rounds of angel investments totaled $2.5 million.
Employees: 12, split evenly between software development and sales and marketing, in PlaceFull’s Pioneer Square office.
Startup life: At Microsoft, Hamlin managed as many as 1,500 people. “Doing the corporate thing was really fun, and it was challenging. But I gotta be honest, this job is a lot tougher.”
— Matt Day