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Pamela Springer of Manta

Pamela Springer is founder of Manta, the largest online community for promoting and connecting small business. Manta helps small businesses get found online, connect with prospects and grow their referral networks.

Why did you start your business?

We had an opportunity to test an idea. We tested bringing users to our site with basic company information on over 12 million U.S. companies, and from there we believed we could test our way through to increase the number of users and drive the business model to critical mass. Today we have over 29 million U.S. companies and a total of 89 million companies worldwide.

How did you come up with the idea?  
The 'ah-ha' moment came when the small business owners called us and said they loved the free online promotion of their companies, but some of the data (which we had purchased from other sources) was wrong. We asked them if they would update the data and they said yes -- it’s then that we realized we could have the best data in the world on small companies and have an opportunity to have a relationship with them, all for virtually no cost. Since then, the site has become much more!
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of, and how did they help? 
TechColumbus: We joined the executive leadership group, attended brown bags and networked.

The State of Ohio Innovation Loan: The loan program loaned Manta $1.2M from the Innovation Loan program designed to help emerging companies.

We also received venture capital investments from two early-stage Ohio venture firms: Athenian Venture Partners and Reservoir Venture Partners.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?

A lot of people didn’t believe we could build something this successful or valuable.
Where did you find your first employee?

We used referrals and placed ads to recruit the best and the brightest. 

What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?

The growing support for entrepreneurs and the cost structure of the region are in our favor. Also, we’re not as twitchy as some on the east/west coast. We don’t typically overreact to the newest shiny object.

What inspires you?

Being around bright people who want to be bold and build something special.
What companies or founders do you admire and why?

Google for its innovation, and IBM for its ability to pivot and stay relevant in the post-PC era.
What’s next for you and your company?

More of the same. Help the small business owners find new customers and connect with each other, keep building out what we’ve started. There’s lots of wood to chop.

Writer: Catherine Podojil

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