#SFSNYC VIDEO: Booker CEO on the Tricky Process of Expanding into New Local Verticals

Share this:
Josh McCarter Booker
Booker CEO Josh McCarter

Booker CEO Josh McCarter opened his Street Fight Summit keynote address with a question that’s on the minds of many small business solutions providers: “How do you take a system that’s designed for one vertical and take it across more categories?” Factoring in the differing needs of various service-based businesses — from salons to dental practices to automotive dealerships — makes that question even more complex.

Those challenges are the core of what McCarter termed “local service commerce,” which he defined as “the end-to-end lifecycle of online and offline actions that empower local service businesses to attract, engage, and transact with customers and effectively manage their business.” In effect, that means the tools these firms need to “run their operations, attract and engage customers, and grow their revenues.” Booker is one of those tools: It functions as a “service commerce platform,” with multiple modules — from scheduling to customer retention to payments — that connect to each other and to third-party systems, including Yelp and Google.

As complex as the vertical-horizontal question is, answering it could be tremendously lucrative. Citing a study Booker did with Bain Capital, an early investor in the company, McCarter said the total local service commerce market encompasses approximately 10 million merchants using in the neighborhood of 50,000 different systems, only some of which are beginning to “talk” to each other. From a revenue perspective, the local service commerce opportunity is around five times greater than ecommerce, and the software licensing opportunity — Booker’s particular niche — is three times larger.

One size generally won’t fit all industries, McCarter concluded. The key, he said, is developing horizontal breadth and leveraging that to serve a number of different vertical use cases.

Noah Elkin is Street Fight’s managing editor.