At ShopKeep, we’re always on the lookout for cool new products that can help Small Business owners get an edge on the competition.

This week we’re talking with Mike Perrone, founder of SocialSign.In, a service that lets you ask your customers to ‘sign in’ with a Facebook account of email address in exchange for access to your in-store Wi-Fi.

ShopKeep: Hi Mike, Thanks for talking with us today. Can you tell us a little about what SocialSign.In does?

Mike Perrone: Sure thing. SocialSign.in enables businesses to leverage their guest WiFi to learn about visitors and build relationships with customers. Our software service manages the access process for guest WiFi, simplifying the connection while enhancing the experience and collecting real-time data from customers.

From a consumer perspective, WiFi users simply activate any WiFi enabled device using Facebook or email the first time they connect to one of our managed networks. Once they’ve done that, they can easily access WiFi at all connected venues and have a simple, non-intrusive way to establish relationships with the businesses they value.

They can easily access WiFi at all connected venues and have a simple, non-intrusive way to establish relationships with the businesses they value.

SK: How will it help Small Business be successful?

MP: We feel that small businesses have been at a disadvantage for years. Online, tools like Google Analytics can collect and track the data and behavior of people visiting websites. For business owners with physical venues and stores, however, that data has never been available for their visitors. Small business owners don’t have the time or resources available to meet and greet every customer (or to quiz them about their hobbies, habits, and preferences), so we developed a way for WiFi to do it for them.

SK: Is it ‘democratizing’, i.e. Does it offer Small Business a chance to catch up with big business? And if so, how?

MP: Definitely. We believe our software is the most cost effective marketing solution available for small businesses. Online marketing opportunities are expensive, crowded and require time and money in order to be successful. For small businesses, it can be difficult to compete with big brands that have advertising agencies and large budgets at their disposal.

At SocialSign.in, we focus on allowing business owners to learn and connect with the people who matter the most, the ones in your store, driving your bottom line. We help them capture the attention of their customers in an environment without the clutter and competitiveness of traditional online marketing. The data we collect on their behalf enables these business owners to learn about their customers, how to keep them coming back, and how to connect with them in more efficient ways if they aren’t.

SK: What’s the future for the company?

MP: We’ve been growing fast around the U.S. with a focus in New York City, where we’re founded. We’re building a network of happy, smarter business owners with customers who are using WiFi more than ever before. We want free WiFi everywhere we go, and we believe that by properly incentivizing business owners to provide it, everyone will benefit. As the need for WiFi continues to grow and become more available around the world, we believe that the business owners offering it will learn the value our service can provide and work with us to build stronger relationships with their customers.

We want free WiFi everywhere we go, and we believe that by properly incentivizing business owners to provide it, everyone will benefit.

SK: Can you give some background on you as a founder? What makes you passionate about this space?

MP: I previously co-founded a company called SocialFlow, which enabled publishers to deliver their content and engage their audience on social channels at the most relevant time. I traveled a lot for work and getting a WiFi connection was a constant pain point for me, let alone for free. Tracking down the password for a locked network? Forget it. It was very rare that I would have a smooth, fast, easy experience trying to connect, whether in a hotel or coffee shop. I connected the dots and realized that I could help businesses make their WiFi offering better, while using it to engage their real-life, physical audience at the most relevant time, on-site, the same way SocialFlow did online.

SK: Thanks for your time!

MP: Not a problem.

Small Business Hub’s Opinion:

Mike and the team at SocialSign.In have hit on a novel way to help Small Businesses connect with their customers, leveraging something valuable that most are currently giving away for free They may also be the right service at the right time as I’ve outlined in this article – Internet Cafe to Today: Are We Approaching the Fourth Wave of Small Business Internet Provision.

The effortless mailing list acquisition, the chance to grow your Facebook followers and the customizable messaging make this service a quick and painless win for most small business owner. The real power here is that these are all real customers. Too often as marketers we are marketing to some theoretical, ‘potential customer’. This tool allows you to develop your relationship with your most important asset as a small business owner: your current customer base. Pricing varies but depending on your business type, this may well be worth checking out.

About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.