RealTime IT News

Handshake.Com Launches Local Merchant Site

Handshake.com launched as an online "matchmaker" that allows consumers to put their local service jobs out to bid to local merchants.

At the same time, Handshake.com said the operation makes it simple for local service merchants -- from caterers and carpet cleaners to auto detailers and massage therapists -- to offer competitive bids for those jobs, even if their business does not have Internet access.

"Handshake.com has been designed from the ground up to be the best way to find local service merchants and get all the necessary information, tools and assistance for getting projects done," said the company's president, Micah Rosenbloom.

Operating on first round venture funding supplied by Idealab! Capital Partners, Handshake.com is initially offering local services in five categories: Events & Parties, Health & Beauty, Home, Automotive and Moving. Handshake.com has integrated a method for including the large numbers of local businesses still without access to the Internet.

In addition to quickly delivering information on pending jobs to local companies via e-mail, Handshake.com said it will distribute the same information by fax, and in some cases, by phone.

"Limiting a consumer's selections to only those merchants who already have e-mail or a Web site still excludes a very large portion of the local small business population," said Rosenbloom.

"We want users to be able to make the best all-around choice for their needs, not just choose from the best 'wired' local businesses."

Site features include background information on service merchants and customer reviews of how well they have delivered in the past, as well as advice on selecting merchants and buyers' guides to help users make the right choice.

Using a proprietary version of the so called "reverse auction" formula, consumers only have to enter the information about their service jobs once on Handshake.com in order to get back numerous competitive bids from local service merchants.

Handshake.com distributes a single, detailed description of the job to all viable providers in the local area at the same time. Bids from merchants are then forwarded to the consumer who can compare prices, merchant availability and relevant recent experience.