Fri04252014

Business & Real Estate

Surfing for the savvy: Website helps business owners connect, learn from others

Former Los Altos resident Ryan Zweng has discovered a way for local business owners to discuss their experiences, solve problems and become more familiar with the Internet via a website.

Zweng, who graduated from St. Francis High School in 2003, wants new, struggling and experienced business owners to connect and learn from each other through his new site, AccountingSoftwareDeals.com. As an affiliate retailer for Intuit, which designs products to help business owners organize and manage their businesses, Zweng’s website offers interviews, discounts, news and Intuit products. The products – including Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax – teach merchants how to market, manage and finance their businesses.

Zweng said he plans to interview local business owners, asking them to share their knowledge, tips and experiences with readers to publish online and “ignite discussion between owners in our community.”

The 26-year-old New York University alumnus is the son of Marianne Barbano, owner of Mimi & Coco The Salon, and Bob Hoagland, a chiropractor and therapist who owns Salon Elizabeth. Both salons are in downtown Los Altos. Zweng established websites for his parents’ businesses.

Hoagland said he uses Zweng’s website and the Intuit products.

“I am not a financial person, so it has helped me a lot,” Hoagland said.

But some local business owners expressed skepticism with the online methods.

“I’ve been here 40 years and I do not own a computer, so I do not think it would be helpful,” said Bruno Marcel of Main Street’s Marcel Jewelers. “I like to keep things simple, and that has worked out for me so far.”

Maltby’s Restaurant & Tavern owner James Maltby doesn’t use the Web either.

“I would not go look at the website for advice, but I could see that others would,” he said. “I just don’t have the time. I do very little online. By advertising on the Internet, you cannot expect people to drive from San Carlos or San Jose to this particular store, so why advertise?”

However, Zweng said the Internet is key to succeeding in business.

“I don’t think (Los Altos business owners) understand how important the Internet is,” he said. “The Internet could get them a better footprint, and therefore more clientele. I basically want to drum up business for others through these interviews.”

Zweng has interviewed William J. McKay, a former resident and semi-retired senior art director for PopDrop Design, now posted at the website. McKay focused on his use of Intuit products

“I talked about how I have used QuickBooks the whole time I ran my own business and it has made everything easier,” McKay said. “I do not need a CPA, and therefore save thousands a year.”

Zweng said he’ll refocus the site.

“I want to open the website up and expand it so that it’s not just about Intuit products,” he said. “The website is about accounting in general.”

The site will link to a featured business’s website, with its official logo and the owner’s photo posted. Reciprocally, owners can link their site to his interview page, building a better online presence for businesses in the local community.

Visitors can comment on the interviews.

“This will show the success and failures of various businesses, bringing the community together by learning from experience,” Zweng said.

For more information, visit AccountingSoftwareDeals.com or email Zweng at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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