LocaLynx connects community businesses to consumers

November 28, 2015
by Brittany Schock,

MANSFIELD, Ohio – Imagine you’re visiting the city of Mansfield for the first time, and you’re wondering to yourself: Where is a good local eatery? What entertainment is available? Where can I go shopping?All those questions and more can be answered with LocaLynx, a new mobile app dedicated to promoting local businesses in Richland County. According to creative director Kevin Haring, LocaLynx is designed to help businesses instantly communicate with their consumers.“Our goal is for these local businesses, mom and pop small businesses, to be able to get out their message to their neighbors and friends as fast as they can,” said Haring. “The big box retailers crush small businesses because they have that advertising budget, so this is a simple way for small businesses to get out their message.”Both Haring and LocaLynx founder Shane Hostetler were born and raised in Richland County – Haring in Ontario and Hostetler in Lexington – therefore they understand firsthand the importance of buying and shopping local.“We understand the challenges small businesses face and understand competing against the big boxes of the world, and we wanted to do something to make a difference,” said Hostetler. “Mansfield has had kind of a rough go of it, and we wanted to do something Mansfield will be proud of and that will help the community grow.”Hostetler said the two biggest challenges facing local businesses is consumers aren’t aware of local companies, and the misconception that shopping locally is more expensive. LocaLynx works to combat these challenges with an intuitive user experience with coupons and deals built into the app.“These deals and specials create additional value for local companies,” said Hostetler.LocaLynx connects users with businesses across eight different categories: auto, entertainment, health and beauty, home goods and services, medical, real estate and finance, restaurants, and shopping and retail. In addition, the app comes with a catch-all “Local” category that shows all business in your surrounding area based on your GPS coordinates.“This was designed as a tool to actually help shop local and find local places,” said Hostetler. “If I had one app on my phone where any community I went to I could find the cool local places the locals love to go to and the businesses that make a place unique, conceptually that’s what we’re going for.”Haring described LocaLynx as simple and easy to use, with little to no learning curve. He noted the company works closely with the local businesses on the app to help them customize their own space.“We’re also not doing any reviews of businesses, and we’re pretty proud of that,” said Haring.Hostetler said leaving out the review option on LocaLynx was intentional.“The more you delve into that process, the more you find out it can be flawed and manipulated,” Hostetler explained. “Our app is about positivity for the local business; we’re not trying to tear anybody down, we’re trying to shine a spotlight on these local companies people may not have known about.”The app’s specific design native to mobile users was also intentional.“Websites for a long time had been where people were, but mobile is where they’re going and they’re going there quickly,” said Hostetler. “We want to meet consumers in a way that’s convenient for them, not get them to do what we want them to do.”Currently LocaLynx features approximately 100 local businesses. Hostetler said the app expects to feature up to 300 businesses over the course of the next year, with the goal being to serve roughly 500 businesses – about 10 percent of Richland County’s more than 5,000 businesses.“There are really two futures, one for our local LocaLynx app to continue to expand in Richland County, and the other is national expansion,” said Hostetler. “We’re looking at three or four markets that will launch in the beginning of 2016.”“And it’s a lot of fun,” added Haring.

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