Business management software and services vendor, Sage North America, has launched SageSpark.com, a new online community designed to address the needs of first-time entrepreneurs and to also bring more business to its retail channel.
Rob King, vice-president of strategic markets, small business at Sage, said the new online resource is part of a global strategy which is initially being rolled out in North America. SageSpark.com is designed for people who are looking to start up a business, or who may be in the early stages of setting one up.
“There’s a huge market of new entrepreneurs that we’re not tapping into because in the past, we weren’t attracting them,” King said. “Because of the recession, many people have been displaced from their jobs so we want to appeal to (those) people who were affected most recently. These are people like baby boomers, immigrants, Generation Y and what we call mom-preneurs.”
SageSpark.com provides users with both free and fee-based online applications and services to help meet new business needs such as billing and invoicing and connecting with other entrepreneurs in a community-based format.
Chuck Leduc, senior director of development at Sage, said one of the pay-for services being offered through SageSpark.com is a virtual helpdesk solution, which costs users $60 a month.
“This is an IT helpdesk solution for a small business,” Leduc said. “Users install an agent on their machine and that installs Windows updates and anti-virus and also maintains the health of the PC. There’s also a 1-800 number they can call to get more help.”
The new services offering will not be offered through Sage’s traditional network of reseller partner because King says SageSpark.com is designed for first-time entrepreneurs who are looking for a basic and easy-to-use tool to help them get their business started.
“First-time entrepreneurs don’t need the level of expertise that our channel partners offer, so we’re offering this to customers,” King said. “We’re also in talks with our retail channel partners with the idea of perhaps also introducing services at the retail level to compliment the current software that we have in stores today.”
Today, Sage’s boxed software solutions are offered through retail partners such as Staples and Best Buy. Hopefully within the next 12 months, these partners will also be able to offer services branded under their own names too, King added.
“Our services revenue is an untapped marketplace and we want it to grow into a substantial business over the next three to five years,” King said.