small business community

Manta, a website that connects customers and small businesses with company profiles, just raised $44 million. The company helps small businesses gain visibility and attract new customers, as well as create a community of small business owners.

Think of Manta as a “LinkedIn meets Yelp for small businesses.” The service acts as a directory for businesses that exist all over the web. For example, one business profile is for an Etsy shop called Modest Chicks, with the founder’s name and location are displayed as well as a few of the products the shop sells. Like LinkedIn, you can write a recommendation for the company, and employees can even connect with their company. For small businesses that may not have a strong social media or web presence, Manta helps them get more customers. Customers can go to the site to search for a business based on location or category.

Also like LinkedIn, Manta encourages business owners to connect with others to grow their network, share knowledge, and get advice. More specifically, Manta can help advise users about marketing or human resources.

The company’s rivals include Angie’s List and MerchantCircle, both of which connect customers to small businesses within a local area. Likewise, Yelp and Facebook Page’s help small businesses get noticed, and because both services are so widespread people often to flock to them first to find and connect with businesses.

Norwest Venture Partners led the round, which will likely be used to grow the company. Norwest Venture Partners’ Jon Kossow and David Su also joined Manta’s board of directors.

Manta was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. This is the first reported funding round for the company.

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