The Marketplace is designed to connect local small businesses with major corporations and other procurement organizations in the area.
An expansion of ATLinBusiness, a city-wide initiative and business portal designed to help entrepreneurs and business owners “plan, start, manage and grow a business.” The portal launched as small businesses worked to grow in a post-COVID environment.
The Marketplace is a private version of Now’s proprietary NowNetwork, an online platform that connects large businesses with a diverse pool of B2B suppliers.
Lara Hodgson, Now’s co-founder, president and CEO, says bringing this type of Marketplace to Atlanta is critical for local businesses of all sizes as it looks to facilitate millions of dollars in additional local commerce transactions.
“It’s not uncommon for cities, municipalities, and special interest groups to encourage people to ‘Buy Local’. But there is a huge part of the economy that gets left out, and that’s the B2B side or the business-to-government side. Because while we can encourage citizens to shop locally, how do you encourage businesses to shop locally?”
The Marketplace is designed to facilitate such business transactions for businesses ranging from Fortune 50 companies headquartered in Atlanta to the growing coffee shop chain across the Metro area.
This isn’t a static database or spreadsheet of businesses that allows for filtering based on specific criteria. Instead, Hodges says it is a “real-time, curated” marketplace for those in procurement to ink deals with local businesses.
Why launch now?
The last three years have been rough on small businesses. The pandemic kicked off months of supply chain issues, labor shortage issues, and an economic roller coaster ride of interest rate hikes and talks of a possible recession.
That put an “incredible burden on small, and largely under-resourced, businesses,” according to Hodgson.
Small businesses looking to land accounts with larger enterprises in town certainly face an uphill battle. The ATLinBusiness Marketplace centralizes critical business information into one place, making it easier for small businesses to share their materials, update their certifications, and “share a full picture of their capabilities,” added Hodgson.
On the buyer side of the equation, it is often difficult for businesses to find qualified and vetted potential suppliers. That is specifically true if they are searching for ways to support women-owned, minority-owned, or veteran-owned businesses. The ATLinBusiness Marketplace looks to alleviate the time and energy associated with those search efforts.
The Marketplace is officially open on the ATLinBusiness website for buyers and sellers in the B2B world.
What it means for NowAccount
Co-founded by Lara Hodgson and Georgia politician Stacey Abrams, NowAccount is a startup designed to fix the B2B payments landscape. The partnership with ATLinBusiness is in “perfect alignment” with the Atlanta-based FinTech’s mission, according to Hodgson.
“When you talk about access to capital, the most important capital [is] revenue. Our clients were always asking us: Can you introduce us to other businesses? So in a way, this whole idea behind the ATLinBusiness Marketplace is the answer to that question,” she added. “If you’re a small business and you can get more customers, that means more orders and contracts..and more revenue. More revenue is really what fuels your business, and creates the flywheel that helps you continue to grow.”
Hodgson added that she hopes Atlanta’s marketplace will inspire other cities to grow such an initiative in their own backyards.
“If the Atlanta metro area can really support the growth of these small businesses, other cities can be doing the same, and then that helps the whole US economy,” she said.
Featured Photo by Marianna Smiley