One of San Diego’s fastest-growing software startups, GoSite, is giving away access to its suite of digital tools to 100 small, local businesses as part of a new economic development program in the region.
The free software meets a critical need for many brick-and-mortar, service-based businesses like auto shops, restaurants and retailers: the ability to be found and run their businesses online. This need was perpetuated by the catastrophic effects of shutdown orders in 2020, forcing many mom-and-pop shops to do their work online — or do no business at all.
“A lot of small businesses don’t know where to start when moving from paper and pen to online,” said Victoria Ashton, vice president of people operations at GoSite. “There are so many different solutions for everything from payments to websites to messaging to reviews. It’s confusing and it’s expensive.”
GoSite’s suite of small business tools will be free to 100 businesses run by women, minorities, veterans and other “economically under-resourced groups.” The tools include payment and invoicing, bookings, review management, customer communication, template websites and more.
The giveaway program was the brainchild of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, or EDC, which has funded the idea through grants from The San Diego Foundation and Union Bank. The EDC will be running the program for its first year, calling it the San Diego Business Hub. Small businesses can apply at SDbizhub.com.
“This partnership is a prime example of how San Diego public, private and civic sectors rally together to solve hard problems,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria in a statement. “Access to these digital tools will help our region achieve a more equitable recovery and help small businesses struggling today be more resilient as San Diego gets back on track and back to work.”
The EDC has launched several programs for small businesses in recent years, including a program to pay the paychecks of intern labor for 100 local companies. The organization often gathers money from grants to help organize and fund its ideas.
“I love that the EDC isn’t just a think tank, they’re really committed to being boots on the ground and in the trenches,” Ashton said. “I think they drive a ton of impact, and that’s exactly what we’re looking to do at GoSite.”
GoSite has grown rapidly in San Diego in recent years, tripling its headcount from 100 in 2019 to over 300 today. The company raised two rounds of venture capital just months apart in 2020 – $16 million in August and $40 million in November.
Ashton said the company plans to hire an additional 50 to 100 people in the next year.