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Review Site Looks to Build, Rather Than Tear Down, Businesses

Online publisher. Software writer. Confidential business adviser.

Goodsnitch might be called all of the above.

Just don’t call it another version of Yelp.

The Goodsnitch website and app, which provides a tool for consumers to comment on businesses, shines a public spotlight on star, frontline employees at businesses up and down Main Street. At the same time, Goodsnitch discreetly notifies those same businesses of other information that might indicate where improvement is needed.

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The Solana Beach-based company already has marquee clients in the Dallas Cowboys football team, the Life Technologies business of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (NYSE: TMO) and The Salvation Army. The San Diego Padres have signed up for the innovative service.

Privately held Goodsnitch, which does not disclose revenue, is a project of 51-year-old Rob Pace, whose business and nonprofit experiences encompass more than two decades at Goldman Sachs & Co. and several years as chairman of the The Salvation Army’s national advisory board. Pace said the tech company has a two-sided mission. One is recognizing a million people for work well done, and the other is opening a channel between businesses and customers because having a culture that fosters such communication is critical to getting better and, therefore, succeeding.

“Your customers usually tell you where to look,” Pace said.

Simple Reviews, Sophisticated Data

It’s along those lines that Goodsnitch considers itself different from Yelp, the San Francisco-based business review site run by Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP). Pace said that while consumers who post reviews on Yelp.com do so to inform other consumers, Goodsnitch users publicly single out “heroes” and send tips to company management. The 30-second critiques often produce positive feedback, the CEO said.

With Goodsnitch, a diner can go to an entertainment hub such as San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter or downtown La Jolla, choose a restaurant and — with the help of a smartphone — post a review of their experience. The software relies on Google Places data from Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) for help with location.

The software’s developers made posting a review as quick and easy as they could, Pace said. Offering opinions is as simple as pressing buttons. A person can be in and out of the app in 30 seconds, while the experience is fresh in the person’s mind. The software also enables patrons to post written comments.

Businesses, meanwhile, can see what customers say about them for free. The product also lets business representatives respond to customers in real time.

While businesses can order a custom questionnaire and monthly data reports for $50, Goodsnitch plans to generate most of its revenue from large enterprise customers by offering premium products with sophisticated ways to sort through the data. Goodsnitch charges in the high five-figure range for enterprise versions of its software, Pace said. Some “voice of the customer” software can cost 10 times as much, or more, he said.

The Whales Help the Minnows

In Pace’s business model, the whales help the minnows.

“Our hope is that [enterprise customers] pay the freight to give product to the mom-and-pop businesses,” he said.

The software version that the Dallas Cowboys use can rank 276 aspects of the game-day experience. Goodsnitch is reportedly speaking with at least one other pro football team.

The Solana Beach business is also pursuing patents on its software.

Goodsnitch set up shop in December 2012, and its software went live in August 2013.

Pace and wife Jennifer Pace own the business, and company employees have a stake. There are no outside investors.

Good reviews of yoga instructors, bank employees and wait staff are posted in a “Hall of Heroes” on the Goodsnitch website. Public recognition of the rank-and-file can help employee morale and can be a motivational tool, Chief Marketing Officer Mike Siciliano said.

And customer feedback is valuable for the folks in the corner office.

“Companies that understand and engage customers have a leg up,” Siciliano said.

GOODSNITCH

CEO: Rob Pace

Revenue: Undisclosed

No. of local employees: 10, plus part-time developers

Investors: Rob and Jennifer Pace and company employees Headquarters: Solana Beach

Year founded: 2012

What makes the company innovative: Pace lists four aspects of the Goodsnitch platform: speed, quality of data, customizable technology and a user experience that prevents “survey fatigue”

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