Bakersfield’s SizeUp service offers free access to business information helpful to entrepreneurs | News

The city of Bakersfield has rolled out a free business intelligence tool giving local entrepreneurs access to an array of competitive insights previously available only to large corporations at considerable expense.

SizeUpBakersfield, online at bakersfield.sizeup.com, offers access to public, private and proprietary data. The idea is to provide resources for business planning, marketing and competitive analysis.

The tool’s release comes at a time of heightened national interest in entrepreneurship and, locally, a concerted effort to cultivate small business as a means of job creation and economic vitality.

Mayor Karen Goh called described the service as a new form of support for entrepreneurs whose prospects for success would otherwise be limited by a lack of sophisticated business intelligence.

“The market research and business insights we provide through this new tool will enable small businesses to compete on the same level as well-funded and larger corporations,” Goh said in a news release in advance of a live demonstration of the service Thursday.

During the online demonstration, Director of Customer Service Mario Ubalde at the Austin, Texas-based company behind the service, called SizeUp, took participants through a series of informational researches, such as hypothetical business planning for a new coffee shop in Bakersfield.

Ubalde quickly sized up market conditions by comparing revenue, employment and salary statistics with quick clicks on a computer mouse. He pulled up worker turnover rates and health care costs — the kind of information a small-business owner might be able to use to make informed decisions about whether the local market is saturated or ready for a new entrant.

Then Ubalde went through SizeUp’s access to local customer data, such as household spending on food, broken down by categories like consumption in-house versus at restaurants. He pointed out users of the service can define the size of their market, be it local, regional, state or national.

He presented marketing information, as well, showing how the service helps business owners better target demographic characteristics appropriate for their actual or hypothetical business.

“It can be as broad or deep as you want,” he said.

Bakersfield, and Kern County more generally, has put a great deal of focus on entrepreneurship during the past couple of years as civic, business and community members have come together under the B3K economic development collaboration.

Research done as part of the initiative showed people living in Kern have demonstrated a relatively strong tendency to open their own business — but that their rate of success has lagged behind that of cities around the country.

The findings have led to more resources being made available to people with an idea for starting a business. The city of Bakersfield’s efforts would appear to complement efforts such as business incubators and investment funds set up to foster entrepreneurial success.

Kelly Bearden, director of Cal State Bakersfield’s Small Business Development Center, tuned in for Thursday’s demonstration and came away encouraged.

“After viewing the demo, we are excited about adding SizeUp to the tools we use in assisting entrepreneurs access and analyze potential of a new business or one wanting to expand,” Bearden wrote in an email Friday.

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