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New innovation group hatches business strategy platform

Having bought Localist from New Zealand Post earlier this year as director of the new company Foundry, Christina Domecq is branching out with a separately run cloud software platform billed as a business navigator for small and medium companies.

It’s the “first child” of a new innovation group of product managers and developers, which has added 10 staff to make it 22-strong. The Ora platform is designed to bring together data to give SME owners a holistic view of their business, and the ability to profile it and run campaigns.

It draws on more than 50 data sources, including Google, information from telcos, Niesen and census data. Businesses could access that data themselves if they had the time and resources, but Ora aims to make business decision making more simple in a complex media environment, says Domecq.

“Small business owners … don’t have enough time and they can’t really tell what’s going on in the market and what their competitors are doing and where new customers could come from.

“I’ve spent my time with hundreds and hundreds of SMEs and they’re inundated with different media channels. They don’t know what works and where their community is. People have no place to collect all their assets or a single plan for the year.”

Ora uses algorithms and a question and answer form to categorise businesses and give them a profile similar to what they’d get on LinkedIn, but more in depth, Domecq says. It can also be used to run campaigns, with the algorithm helping select appropriate marketing channels, she says.

The platform is free and has four modules: Ora Eye for monitoring market and competitor activity; Ora Expert for marketing and campaign management; Tracker business performance and Community for online networking. Ora Tracker integrates with Westpac, MYOB, Xero, Vend and New Zealand Post.

Ora Eye will also be developed as a cross-platform app.

Ora is currently ad supported, but there will be triggers throughout the software for upgrades, including $50 a month for extra storage or to reach communities of more than 200 people.

Domecq expects about 50 percent of customers to adopt its managed services for $500 per month, where the innovation group will help with set up and marketing management. However, she says it will focus on learning from users during the launch phase.

The innovation group spends 95 percent of its resource currently on Ora, but five percent is spent on working with external partners.

Christina Domecq is the CEO of Ora, while Christina Sayers Wickstead is general manager and head of communications for Localist, including the consumer recommendation engine. Localist’s The Market is headed by Toyah Attwell.

Localist is running profitably, growing at about 15 percent month on month, says Domecq.

Ora is also celebrating its launch with 10 $50,000 grants for New Zealand businesses between now and Christmas.

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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