Entrepreneur to offer free services to small-business owners

A Rochester entrepreneur whose tech company offers coaching, office space rental, crowdsourced marketing and more has begun offering free services to the small business community and those who have lost their jobs.

Jonah Inikori, founder and CEO of Boodlebag, will offer services on the company’s platform for no charge through the end of August, with extensions beyond that based on need.

“Being a small-business owner in the Rochester area for over 14 years, I know exactly what most small-business owners are going through right now,” Inikori said in a statement this week. “When I started my dance studio in 2006, I had to figure out ways to overcome the challenges most small-business owners face, like managing the cost of rent, finding cost-effective ways to bring in new customers, ways to reduce overhead and ways to free up more of my time.”

Armed with a computer science degree from the University of Rochester, Inikori was able to develop solutions to help him overcome those challenges.

“Unfortunately, a majority of small-business owners don’t have the means or technical understanding to align their businesses with the right technology,” he said. “With the health and economic crisis we are in right now, all of these challenges have become vastly exacerbated. Now, more than ever before, small businesses need solutions that help without an accompanying demand in increased spending.”

Boodlebag was launched as a technology platform to provide small-business owners with the resources they need to overcome the typical financial constraints they face, Inikori said.

“In these trying times we’ve come to see it as invaluable, and feel a sense of obligation to help,” he added.

Boodlebag will offer businesses online appointment scheduling to avoid crowding and manage scheduling while they work; group session and event size restrictions with waiting lists and automated notifications when openings become available; cashless payments with credit cards, online or in-person; flexible business space rentals to help businesses keep rent expenses in line with sales; and crowdsourced marketing, a new model for marketing that does not require large, upfront payments.

Inikori said the company also is setting up a $250,000 fund to help small-business owners get through the next few months and enable Boodlebag to extend its free services beyond the August timeframe. Inikori is calling on landlords, marketers and expert coaches to work with small businesses who take advantage of the programs.

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