A new startup called HourTown is entering the crowded market for scheduling websites, and it just raised $1 million to improve its product and promotion.
We’ve been a bit skeptical about whether companies can get much traction in this area, even if they offer a smart, simple interface like newcomer Presdo. But HourTown targets a different audience, because it focuses on helping service providers — basically, small businesses ranging from doctors to yoga instructors — schedule their appointments, and also promotes the businesses and specific openings through search engine marketing.
It’s a combination that makes sense. In my experience, I’ve found that I usually Google whatever service I need, visit the website and then I have to pick up the phone to actually make the appointment — not exactly arduous, but not ideal, either. Palo Alto, Calif.-based HourTown allows businesses to bring that whole process online for much less effort than building their own appointment tools on their webistes. With a basic version that costs only $20 per month, HourTown probably pays off in saved time alone.
Since launching in April, founder Ryan Donahue (who left PayPal to start the company in 2006) says HourTown has processed 40,000 bookings. One of the next steps is adding mobile compatibility for businesses that do most of their work remotely, such as pet grooming services or pool cleaners.
The funding comes from Baseline Ventures, Hatch Ventures, NBC Universal and several angel investors. ZocDoc, which provides a similar service but focuses on doctors’ appointments, announced a $3 million first round yesterday.