MarketBox CEO, Diana Goodwin, on Using Technology to Empower Service Businesses

By Amanda Desouza

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Moving from the consulting world at Bain & Company to bootstrapping her first startup, AquaMobile, Diana Goodwin is no stranger to the unique challenges of growing a business. 

AquaMobile is a mobile swim school operating globally, where swimming instructors travel to students to provide at-home swim lessons. Customers can easily book and pay for appointments with vetted swim instructors at their convenience via AquaMobile’s online platform. 

In 2016, Goodwin made an appearance on Canadian business show, Dragons Den where she pitched AquaMobile. To her delight, several  Dragons showed an interest in her company (even walking away with a deal from Boston Pizza, Chairman, and Owner, Jim Treliving), yet the Dragon’s attention quickly shifted to the software opportunity. Could the software be used for other service businesses? 

The Dragons saw the larger potential beyond swimming lessons if she used the proprietary software to branch into other at-home services. 

She soon discovered that many service businesses needed software that could offer them the perfect-fit solution to their business woes. Goodwin knew this first hand, the reason she had developed the software in the first place was as a solution to her own problem– she couldn’t find existing software that fit her needs.

The demand was evident as other companies began approaching her to query about using the software for their own businesses. There wasn’t anything on the market that had all of the features business owners needed to automate scheduling, logistics and sales tasks and run their service business more efficiently. 

From one successful company, she spun out another– MarketBox. Goodwin describes it as a “Shopify for Services”, a B2B SaaS product that streamlines and automates sales, people management, and customer management all in one place.

The rise of automation for service businesses

Many scheduling and sales systems are designed for businesses that have physical locations that customers travel to. Yet, MarketBox does the opposite, it allows service-based marketplaces and businesses with travelling service providers to build an online storefront for their services. 

For service businesses, handling logistics like scheduling, payment, and sales are often time-consuming. 

Software that automates scheduling and routing reduces the burden of having to do these essential business tasks manually. 

Minimizing travel time and optimizing routes for service providers travelling to customer appointments makes a business more efficient. For service providers, the software helps to decrease burn out for providers who are constantly travelling to appointments.

Additionally, MarketBox can improve a business’s bottom line, by enabling them to sell their services online. The e-commerce booking page designed specifically for selling services is available 24/7 which means customers can book an appointment anytime they want. Payments are automatically processed right on the platform. 

“We are more than just a sales and scheduling platform. We are constantly using data to improve the experience so that we can help businesses using the MarketBox software to convert more leads into sales for the businesses,” said Goodwin.

Goodwin outlines three reasons why service businesses will need to use software to help their businesses stay competitive in an ever-increasingly connected world.  

1. Consumers demand instant service and response times in our connected world. This is the Uber and Amazon effect. Consumers are now used to getting what they want quickly and easily and smaller businesses or traditionally non-tech businesses, are under immense pressure to keep up.

2. Not every company can (or should) develop its own technology. Time, money and skilled labour to build one’s own technology solution are in an ever-increasing short supply. Leveraging a pre-built Software as a Service (SaaS) product enables a business to bring their business online in a quicker and cheaper way. It also enables budding entrepreneurs to bring their creative ideas to market. Currently, many never get the chance to even launch, due to budget constraints. 

3. The speed at which technology is progressing is very quick and unless a business has a deep technical team, it will be very hard to keep up with the ongoing changes that are needed to build software. But a pre-built Software as a Service (SaaS) product will have a team with deep technical knowledge and will be constantly looking to improve the software for you. 

Launching service businesses into the market

Goodwin is inspired by helping more businesses come to life.

MarketBox allows businesses to easily grow and scale without requiring the technical expertise of a developer. 

Goodwin’s team can get businesses set up on the platform in a few days vs. many months which has become quite common, and unlike their competitors, there’s no hefty upfront fee. Instead, MarketBox charges monthly and scales the cost depending on a business’s usage, so that they can be accessible to companies of all sizes, even entrepreneurs who want to test a business idea at a low cost. 

From mobile beauty service businesses to at-home doctors and nurses and beyond, Goodwin admits she loves hearing the unique and innovative business ideas people have come up with. “I’ve been approached by businesses offering at-home music lessons, air-quality testing, personal trainers, the list goes on”

Since technology is expensive, a factor that can make it quite difficult for business owners to innovate and grow, a lot of the companies that have approached Goodwin and go on to utilize MarketBox, wouldn’t have been able to build their business without it. 

“I’ve gone through the pain of having to build a company from scratch and it can be tough. I want to make it easier for entrepreneurs to succeed and empowering them with the technology they need to scale and grow is the best way I know how to give back,” said Goodwin.

Advice for entrepreneurs

As far as advice for other entrepreneurs goes, Goodwin believes that surrounding yourself with great team members, advisors, and others in your social circle is key. 

She credits having an amazing group of strong female founders in her circle who she has been able to turn to for advice and support while growing her business. 

According to Goodwin, “It’s so important to have a strong support network on your entrepreneurial journey”