SANTA FE, N.M. — A new online search platform is launching this week in Santa Fe that promises local consumers and businesses a faster, more efficient and less costly way to connect than your typical Google search.
The yellCast Connection Engine, designed by internet veterans who developed some of the original search platforms that preceded Google in the 1990s, will allow consumers to find local products and services and instantly connect to them for free via phone, text and email, according to its creators. It will do that without any online tracking of activities, use of personal information or targeting by advertisers.
For local businesses, the platform sidelines big national companies by raising local ones to the top of search pages and providing immediate, direct connection to local consumers seeking products or services. Once listed on the platform, typical charges for each click on a mouse by potential customers, as well as costly search engine optimization and marketing, become obsolete, said yellCast head of product Kate Greer. With yellCast, if a listed business is contacted by a potential customer, the company pays only a small fee if it actually responds to the client inquiry.
“We’re looking to disrupt things in today’s world of online searches,” Greer told the Journal. “For consumers and individuals who are tracked and targeted everywhere they go, we’re eliminating all of that to connect directly with local businesses. For local companies that get drowned out by nationwide players like Amazon, we’re leveling the playing field.”
With yellCast, consumers can connect with relevant businesses faster and easier because, once search results are available, the searcher chooses which ones to contact in a single request. The inquiry is then sent to all the chosen companies simultaneously for them to respond.
“With a single request, you can contact as many local businesses as you want without having to repeat things over and over,” Greer said.
The five company founders know each other from working together at two pioneering search engine development firms in the late 1990s, WebCrawler and Excite@Home.
The team believes Santa Fe’s community-oriented reputation makes it a good beta testing ground for yellCast’s locally-focused strategy.
“For us, it’s a great place to do this because Santa Fe is one of the most local cities out there,” said Peter Negulescu, head of operations and partnerships. “Our goal is to keep local spending in the local market.”
Santa Fe’s investment in high-speed internet at the city’s railyard district was also a major pull, said Kate Noble, director of the city’s office of economic development, which helped connect yellCast with local business chambers, organizations and individual firms.
“We’ve helped plug them into the local community, Noble said.
Beta testing will last three months. During that time, Santa Fe businesses can sign up for listing on the yellCast site and respond to customer inquiries for free. For more information, visit www.yellcast.com.