MerchantCircle may not be as well-known as business listing site Yelp, but its user base of small businesses who want to control their web presence keeps growing. The company says it recently signed up its 1 millionth business, about three-and-a-half years after launching.
Los Altos, Calif.-based MerchantCircle creates online profiles for every small business it can find (it has created 15 million profiles in all), then encourages owners to “claim” those profiles and start paying for MerchantCircle services. The company has been criticized for going after those businesses aggressively, but it offers a real service, making it easy for business owners to customize a profile that will top search engine results for relevant local queries, with features like a blog, coupons, and an online answer service.
With its focus on business owners who may not be that web-savvy, MerchantCircle also likes to emphasize the broadness of its audience. Its listings aren’t just concentrated in a few major cities, it says (although there are 10,400 members in New York City). Instead, there are 1,750 towns in the United States with more than 100 members. Islip, New York-based Nassau Avenue Nails was the millionth business to sign up, and will receive all of MerchantCircle’s services for free.
The company has raised a total of $14.1 million from Rustic Canyon Partners, Disney’s Steamboat Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and IAC, the company that owns Citysearch.