Short for “rhizome”, Rhiz is a consumer-facing network of businesses.
When it comes to small business review sites and lead generators for home improvement contractors, they are a dime a dozen. From Yelp, to Angi, on down to Chambers of Commerce, there are myriad options. Ultimately, however, homeowners and small business owners alike agree that trusted word of mouth is king. While many may use these methods for initial search, often we seek a familiar referral or word of advice before picking a contractor. This is true in home automation and construction but even painting and landscaping. Small businesses (hopefully for them) are too busy to manage multiple sites, while homeowners want to save steps as well. What if word of mouth was combined with initial search? That’s where our feature Rhiz comes in. Short for “rhizome”, Rhiz is a consumer-facing network of businesses. Call it the “blue-collar LinkedIn” if you will, but Rhiz puts word of mouth online by showing the homeowner who contractors work with (great for large projects) but also what products they use or supply.
Let’s say if a homeowner knows what doors they want installed or even audiophile speakers, they could search for those products and find who installs them locally. And on that business’s profile, this potential client could see who they partner with, a sort of six degrees of separation visualized. One may not know the business they find, but they may know and trust that company’s partners or products.
Founded in Northern Michigan and built by a renowned team in Los Angeles, Rhiz is initially focusing on home improvement contractors in the neglected middle states, the “flyovers”. Far too many small businesses were cast aside in the past few years, and their goal is to keep these essential businesses alive and thriving by reducing their steps to finding and retaining customers while keeping their word-of-mouth wheels turning.
The name Rhiz was not arbitrarily picked, either, as we have discovered. Their founder, Stu Campbell, came from years in the community organizing and small business (edible landscaping) field and began to conceptualize this startup after a back injury sidelined his manual labor days. Rhiz is an homage to gardeners but also is part of their mission, to help businesses rise and thrive. A rhizome also, is a root-like structure with independent but-interconnected parts shooting above ground. To them, this Rhiz-ome is a network of small businesses with individual goals and needs but which are also part of a community, oftentimes from small towns.
Rhiz is adding more features as we speak, but the timing of this could not be much better. The meteoric growth of AI like ChatGPT is making many rethink tasks and even entire industries, but this and the last few years remind us that the human aspect, our connections, cannot be a shortcut…nor should they.
The tech-savvy can search for DIY home theatre solutions, but good luck getting artificial intelligence to wire your home. Rhiz helps people stay connected in an increasingly disconnected world. It’s an online solution that empowers the offline, not replaces it.
Campbell explained that Rhiz will always have free trials for those testing the waters and even those unsure about how to start a business. “Don’t waste time or money on a website if you haven’t validated your service yet. Make a free profile, do some networking with whom you’d want to work, and see if you get bites from prospects. Show off your hobby or aspirations, THEN go full-time!”
He continued, saying his environmental background led him to a quotation from Henry David Thoreau, which still guides him, that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” and if their team can help people reduce their fears and pursue their goals, the ripple effects could extend “beyond just a small business marketplace.”
Do you have a business idea or want to support someone who does? Afraid to start something or unsure how? Rhiz above it and let your community help you. The naturalist’s adage of “the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, the second best time is now” holds true with entrepreneurship. People are more likely to regret the risks they didn’t take, so go ahead and start something.