ThriveHive transforms into a HubSpot for really small businesses, with a twist


The founders of ThriveHive have never expected the Cambridge startup to be one of those companies that gains a huge user base virtually overnight. As they told me in an interview more than a year ago, scaling up its marketing software for the smallest of businesses—the ones with 10 or fewer employees—would necessarily take some time.

But the company has remained committed to the challenge, and has learned some crucial things that ought to help those sorts of businesses in a bigger way, founders Max Faingezicht and Adam Blake told me today.

Most notably, they learned that many of the smallest businesses still don’t have a good or easy-to-use website; often, they don’t have a website at all. The company realized that its software, which aims to guide business owners through which online marketing actions they should take each day, wasn’t going to be of much use to a lot of their potential customers.

ThriveHive, which launched in 2011 and is backed by $3 million in funding from investors including Founder Collective, has just debuted a way to easily set up an attractive website that also comes integrated with the ThriveHive marketing software, the founders said. “It became clear that we needed to make this part of the offering,” Blake said.

The alternative for small business owners is to start a website in one place, find an email provider in another, and then add contact management, social media management, and analytics, he said. ThriveHive instead takes care of all of that, Blake said.

“All of that is probably similar to what HubSpot would say—that’s always been how they would think about the value they provide,” he said. “The difference is that this is a product that’s designed for an owner, not for a marketer.”

The most important difference is in ThriveHive’s “guided marketing” approach, which has recommendations built into the software about what to do on a day-to-day basis. For instance, the software might tell an owner, based on your profile you should do some advertising, or send an email, because you haven’t done that in a month, Blake said. It also strips out sophisticated tools that are only of use to full-time marketers, such as A/B testing, he said.

“We’re doing A/B testing in the aggregate for all business owners, and then providing them with the best practices—the guidance is all given to them,” Faingezicht said.

ThriveHive isn’t restricted to businesses with 10 or fewer employees, but, generally, it is best for businesses that don’t have a marketer on staff, Blake said. A restaurant or a landscaping company are examples of businesses that might use it even if they have a large number of employees (but no one in marketing), he said.

“If you’re big enough to have a marketer, there are probably other tools out there for you,” Blake said.

Ultimately, ThriveHive hopes the product will bring more small business owners into the world of online marketing—and allow the startup, which employs 16, to move beyond its own phase as a small business.

“We firmly believe this is the first time that a complete marketing solution has been available to very small business owners,” Blake said.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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