Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.
FcF: Tell us about yourself?
Samantha: Hi FcF readers! I’m Samantha Lloyd, the co-founder and CEO of Metaranx. I love building partnerships and communities. I really believe in and practice supporting local shops and I love working with small businesses. I am obsessed with content marketing and SEO. I also host the Float or Founder podcast, where I get the opportunity to speak to local business owners and learn from their stories and perspectives.
FcF: What is Metaranx?
Samantha: Metaranx is a platform that allows you to browse through and search for products from local shops. We began in Toronto, Canada and are expanding from there. We plan to make shopping local an easy process for the online shopper while promoting small businesses.
FcF: How did you come up with Metaranx, the local shopping platform?
Samantha: We’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster ride with our startup. We launched in March 2020 with a completely different idea and we struggled to find product market fit, despite a super-supportive community. After months of trying to push our previous idea, we knew it was time to pivot our company and start again.
My co-founder and I began discussing what really mattered to us and what we were excited about. We decided we wanted to put our energy into supporting local, small shops in our city and expand from there - nationally and internationally. We launched Metaranx as it is now in January 2021.
FcF: What were the first 3 steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue building Metaranx?
Samantha: When we had decided to focus on local shops, that’s a fairly broad topic. We decided to really focus on product and community.
FcF: How did you validate your idea to ensure it was something that people wanted and that it would be a product market fit?
Samantha: Prior to our startup, my co-founder and I had run a digital marketing agency working with small businesses. We were familiar with the challenges small and local shops face, such as competing in ad spend with larger companies, organic marketing, and customer loyalty. Speaking with shop owners today, these challenges have grown as the online space has become more competitive and the big box stores have exponentially grown their marketplaces.
On the customer side, the data highlights that people want to shop local - of surveyed Canadians, there was a 14% increase in intended local shopping with regards to holiday spend in 2020. However, shopping locally needs to be an easy process for that customer. We want to bridge that connection between the business owner who wants to reach more customers and the shopper who wants to support their local shops.
The best way to validate your idea is to speak to the people you believe will use it. Don’t build something without receiving input from your target market. In our case of a local shopping marketplace, we spoke with both local shop owners and online shoppers.
FcF: What has been most challenging so far in building Metaranx and how are you currently / have been overcoming it?
Samantha: The early days are full of more time consuming tasks but investing that time is key to success. For example, I personally reach out to every shop owner I can find. I know that throughout the pandemic, small businesses have been receiving a lot of emails and cold outreach. I continue to edit and improve on my cold outreach to business owners so I can share what we’re building and how we’re supporting small shops to get more businesses involved and promote them on our platform and in our marketing plans - for free!
FcF: What are some marketing tactics or strategies that you have been doing at Metaranx to gain attraction, traffic, and engagement to the platform?
Samantha: My professional background is in content marketing. You can find me rambling about search engine optimization on a regular basis. We have not invested any money into marketing, with our old idea or this current one. A lot of people disagree with me on this topic but I believe if you have to use marketing ad spend to generate your first traffic, leads, or customers then you haven't found product-market-fit.
I generate a lot of interview content with amazing shop owners. Sharing that content on social has been key for growing our website traffic. Our podcast, Float or Founder (shortly on its third season), will be another marketing channel, as well. Creating content is time consuming but it lives on your site forever and can continue to generate traffic and leads for your business over time.
FcF: How did you meet your co-founder?
Samantha: We are a husband and wife co-founder team! The endless support, kindness, and unique perspective my husband has allows us to toss ideas around and give honest feedback on one another's' plans. I wouldn't want to be on this journey with anyone else.
If you’re looking for a co-founder, be honest with yourself. What can you absolutely not do and where do you shine? You need a co-founder who has the right balance of skills and personality to pick up where you lack and vice versa. Someone who you have a history of working well with is a great place to start.
FcF: How have relationships with other founders helped you build your business?
Samantha: If it weren’t for other amazing founders, we wouldn’t be here. From our friends at partner companies that provide discounts and resources to our shop owners to the shop owners themselves taking time to do an interview and be part of our site - we appreciate it all so much. The support of other founders is how we can continue to grow this business.
FcF: If you were to give advice to yourself as you were starting out, what would it be?
Samantha: It’s great to share your idea with everybody, and I really believe it’s important to not be secretive and to discuss what you’re building. However, take the advice of those in your target market only when it comes to changing the product. Speaking with the people who are going to actually use your product when making product roadmap decisions is the best way to build something people want.
FcF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
Samantha: I'm a big believer in planned risk. It’s important to take a chance on yourself and your idea but give yourself the foundation to actually carry your idea out to its full potential. For example, is your idea something that can be validated while you continue to work and earn a living elsewhere? Is your idea something that allows you to build a quick prototype to test? It's not easy going without income or success or validation in the early days so you need to be able to support yourself financially, emotionally, and otherwise during that time to alleviate as much stress as possible.
FcF: How can the Female CoFounder community help you?
Samantha: Support local shops! Whether through sending us your shop or someone else's to add to our platform, connecting us with store owners who would like to see featured on our site, or you are a local shopper and want to share your stories of your favourite shops with us - we want to hear about all of it!
FcF: How can people contact you?
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