Fisherman Pioneers the No-Effort Web for Small Businesses

You don’t need to be an SEO aficionado to understand that, despite all the tools on the market helping small businesses craft websites, the problem has yet to be completely solved. Just Google your favorite local coffee shop to find out its hours, and you’ll discover it lacks a website or that the website looks like a middle schooler made it back in 2012.

Enter Fisherman, the startup pioneering what CEO and co-founder Ameet Kallarackal calls the “no-effort Web.” Beginning with a focus on restaurants, which still make up about 90% of its customer base, Fisherman is aiming to be the simplest, most automatic option available for small businesses to create websites.

The company claims to get the job done in just two minutes and typically has a website ready for a potential customer, often based purely on the business’ name and address, before approaching them. The dream, then, is that Fisherman can finally close the market gap on small business websites, helping businesses for which other tools are either too complicated or too expensive get the job done.

Fisherman’s origin story

The roots of Fisherman can be traced back to Kallarackal’s middle school days, when his parents had a freelance web design business. At that time, he developed some basic skills such as a familiarity with WordPress.

More directly, though, Kallarackal developed the idea for Fisherman by interviewing small business owners and operators about their digital troubles. Kallarackal had previously conducted market research through his first company, which interviewed college kids and other millennials about their experiences with apps such as Snapchat and Venmo. 

While conducting face-to-face research on the market for digital tools to create small business websites, Kallarackal experienced first hand what the broad lack of small business websites suggests: Existing tools, while meant to be simple, were often still too complicated and time-consuming for time-strapped small businesses to use. 

What Fisherman does

The result of Kallarackal’s research was Fisherman, which sacrifices some of the customization capacities of tools such as Wix and Squarespace to maximize efficiency and simplicity. 

“Those are phenomenal tools,” Kallarackal said of Fisherman’s competitors. “But … there’s a tradeoff that needs to be made between personalization and freedom on one side and automation and usability on the other.” 

Fisherman is an all-in-one website builder and digital marketing hub for “the demo of folks who can’t really or don’t want to do it on their own,” Kallarackal said.

In addition to website building and SEO — “SEO is something we invest in as much as the website itself” — Fisherman integrates with Google My Business and other listing services, allowing businesses to handle basic digital marketing necessities through one platform.

A hole in the market

Kallarackal hypothesizes that the remaining hole in the market for small business websites and digital marketing persists because it is a tough financial equation to crack. 

Fisherman charges just $35, or $50, per month for its solution. At that rate, small businesses can afford to sign on, and Kallarackal said about 95% do so after a month-long free trial. In addition, 65% of leads convert to paying customers, and monthly churn is below 2%.

But it is easy to understand why the economics for service providers are so challenging at those rates. Just hiring a single sales person to pitch businesses would likely cost more per hour than a customer pays per month. This forces other vendors upstream, incentivizing them to offer more complicated solutions for savvier and deeper-pocketed clients.

What’s next

Fisherman announced under $1 million in seed funding in April. The company has been using the funds to beef up its technology and boost its head count. It is also looking to to make deeper inroads into verticals beyond restaurants.

Among the technical challenges in the company’s path are how to flesh out the “no-effort Web” approach it endeavors to make possible for customers. That means tackling technical challenges such as finding and selecting appropriate images or creating content automatically.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018 and compiled the daily newsletter since 2016. Joe is a journalist who has written widely about technology, business, and politics. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.