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HubSpot exec spins out YouSpot, to offer digital marketing services to small businesses (updated)

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 22, 2012 08:15 AM

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Update: Talk about a quick change-of-heart...

Last night (August 8th), YouSpot founder Jonah Lopin sent an e-mail to friends telling them that "as we've gotten a bit further down the path, we have determined that our current incarnation and timing is not sustainable." He said that instead of YouSpot, he'd be dedicating his time to M80 Labs. I asked him about that, and here's what he said via e-mail:

M80 will be launching multiple products that we are super psyched about in the coming months. As we launch these products, we'll be looking for traction that will serve as the basis for building a company. We want to test our ideas on the web and move quickly based on what is working.

Our first launch will be in September, and it is going to be awesome.

Lopin didn't want to say much about M80 at this point, but did say that it won't be operating in the digital marketing space. While HubSpot had been willing to "carve out" part of his employee non-compete agreement agreement so that he could develop YouSpot, that agreement still prohibits him from competing with his old employer with a different venture, he says.

My original article on YouSpot is below...

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Things are proceeding rather swiftly for YouSpot, one of the newest digital marketing startups in town.

Earlier this month, executives at HubSpot, a Cambridge firm that helps mid-sized companies market through search and social media, were talking about the possibility of developing a new product to target small businesses. But the decision was that "it would've been hard to pursue two markets at the same time," says Jonah Lopin, who was employee #6 at HubSpot. "Doing it internally would have been a distraction, especially since HubSpot still has a lot of market share to build with medium-sized businesses."

So Lopin left the company last Friday to start YouSpot, which is developing a "radically simple" HubSpot-like offering for sole proprietorships and small businesses. (The company isn't licensing HubSpot's software.) Lopin says that HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah came up with the YouSpot name, and that HubSpot itself is the first investor in YouSpot. The startup is currently operating out of Deloitte's incubator space in Waltham. (Lopin also happens to be a Deloitte alum.)

HubSpot has helped pioneer the practice of "inbound marketing," a set of techniques around creating useful content on blogs, web sites, and Facebook that prospective customers will discover on their own, often with the help of search engines. But a subscription to the HubSpot software starts at $200 a month, and it is most relevant, Lopin says, to companies big enough to have a marketing department — or at least a staffer dedicated to marketing.

"There are millions of small businesses that aren't doing inbound marketing yet because of the cost and complexity," Lopin says. "We want to help these small business owners do marketing the right way on the Internet in a way that gets results." And, he adds, "We will be much cheaper than $200."

Lopin says he is on the verge of bringing on board a co-founder and CTO, and he hopes to launch YouSpot's product by early fall.

While HubSpot is an investor in Lopin's new venture, he says that HubSpot doesn't have any preferential rights when it comes to acquiring YouSpot, should the business prove successful.

Former HubSpot employees have splintered off to start a number of local businesses, including BuySellAds, Followup.cc, and InsightSquared, but YouSpot is the first company in which HubSpot has invested.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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