“That’s the magic of the internet,” Papafloratos says. “We don’t spend any money on marketing but have relied on people who blog about things from food to local places to new technology and startups. They were really instrumental in getting the word out and building our brand.”
TrustedPlaces is a community of people who submit reviews on restaurants, bars, pubs clubs and other places around the UK, and was launched by Papafloratos two years ago with Walid Al Saqqaf. The duo raised money from angels, friends family and previous colleagues to start the business then secured £500,000 from Howzat Media in February 2007.
Papafloratos says: “Both of us lived in London and had time and money to go out but found ourselves going to the same places over and over again. Most of the ways we discovered new places was word of mouth – recommendations from friends. The element that’s missing in Time Out or the Yellow Pages is the personal touch. This is what you get at TrustedPlaces.”
TrustedPlaces’s core business model is helping local businesses promote themselves. The site is also working with big-name brands, partners with Toptable so that punters can reserve tables through the site and features standard online advertising.
Another partnership is with Bview – an online business directory and another internet startup– to offer online marketing solutions for local businesses.
The plans for the next 12 months are to monetise the site and develop the business model. Papafloratos says: “We want to make TrustedPlaces a much deeper, more social, ubiquitous experience.”