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Backfence is a venture capital-backed commercial network of hyperlocal sites with all content written by the community itself and with a target audience of suburban “soccer Moms and soccer Dads,” according to co-founder Mark Potts. It launched in 2005 with two local portals in Virginia since grown to six, plus one in Maryland, three in San Francisco and three in the Chicago suburbs by fall of 2006.

The site allows readers to promote events, rate and review local businesses and post free classified ads, which can be upsold. The sites sell display ads, enhanced local yellow-page listings and self-serve business classifieds for $25 a month.

Backfence aims to capture local advertisers who can’t afford to buy into print. Businesses pay $120 per year for a one-page web site that can include photos, their hours and contact information. Increasingly, though, Backfence finds itself in competition with independent local start-ups.

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