ZenBusiness Takes on a Copy Cat (Copy Dog?)

Who is Behind Our New Competitor, Ribbon.io?

A new website has arrived on the scene to compete with ZenBusiness, but they have a dark secret…what could it be? Let’s take a look at this cute copycat competitor and see if we can find out what is really going on. We mean, certainly, all is fair in love and start-ups, right? Is Ribbon.io a scam? Or is Ribbon.io legit?

Front Page Content

Let’s start at the beginning (traditionally, a very good place to start). Looking at the two front pages pictured here, you’ll notice that both have a similar video player icon, note about price plus state fees, and button text. “They look different enough to me,” you might say, “Next you’ll be peddling conspiracy theories about Justin Bieber being one of the time-traveling, shape-shifting lizards that run the global shadow government.” Well, that is not the case, and we would never be foolish enough to say anything to bring us into conflict with the lizard people or the Beliebers*. However, we must point out that, at one point, our button copy was exactly “Start for Free” and our state fee text was “$0 + state fee.”

*“Beliebers” are fans of Justin Bieber. How did you not know that?

Those Doggone Illustrations

If you scroll down farther on Ribbon’s front page, you’ll find another similarity to our page: a dog walker illustration. But at least they made an effort to differentiate themselves from us by making their dogwalker much more highfalutin. Ours (on the left) looks like an average joe going on a stroll down to 7-Eleven, while theirs (on the right) looks like she’s on her way to one of those five-star sidewalk cafes that accommodate pooches with Kobe beef dog treats served in diamond-studded dog dishes.

Flattery. Sort Of.

This one takes a keener eye to spot, but they cleverly put the “EIN” illustration on the RIGHT and the “Operating Agreement” illustration on the LEFT. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but, come on, flattery should take a LITTLE effort.

We suppose we could make similar grumbles about their EIN page, but at least here they sought to differentiate themselves from us by charging $29 more. (Ribbon customers, we don’t want to hear any complaining. If you can afford nice pearls and poodles that eat Kobe steak dog treats, you can cough up a bit more for your EIN.)

Speed Page

Originally we had these lightning bolts on our page for specifying how fast our clients want things done, but then did away with them when we redesigned the page. We were annoyed to see that Ribbon had taken them until we realized they were just being eco-friendly. After all, better to recycle those lightning bolts than to have them end up in a landfill with all those drinking straws.

Let’s Confirm Your Information

Speaking of speed, it looks as if Ribbon nabbed our business and account information sections from our confirmation page, but they weren’t quick enough to get our speed selection design. Kind of like when you come home to find your home has been burglarized and see that the TV is gone, but your Kobe beef-eating poodles scared them off before they could get the Blu-ray player.

À la carte

Here’s where Ribbon’s “flattery” makes us red-faced, but are we red with embarrassment or rage? We don’t want to bore you with a lot of technical details here, but we went through a lot of iterations, user testing, a design sprint, etc. to get a cart page that was custom-tailored just for ZenBusiness, and Ribbon swiped it, right down to the dashed lines and switches. In fact, it’s so similar to ours that we wouldn’t be surprised if the money from folks checking out on Ribbon goes into our bank account instead. Hm…maybe we should keep our mouths shut. 

Success Page

Ever been to a great party, one that kind of spills over onto other places, like your neighbor’s yard? We at ZenBusiness got a party like that crankin’ on our “Success” page (see the screencap below). It even spills over onto our office walls. Well, it turns out that our party got more out of control than we thought and spilled over onto our competitor’s “Success” page, as well (see the screencap below ours). There you’ll see some familiar looking squiggles, shapes, and even copy (“You did it!”) stumbling around like your friend Walter after he had too many Heinekens that time and ralphed on your neighbor’s doghouse.

Team Picture

Now there are certain ways that Ribbon emulates us that we would never criticize; in fact, we commend them for it. One of those is our commitment to diversity. If you look at our team photo below on the left, you will notice that we at ZenBusiness proudly employ canine Americans. And, when you look at Ribbon’s staff photo to our right, you’ll see that Ribbon also employs at least one canine American. Good for you, Team Ribbon! Of course, you’ll note that we still employ TWICE as many canine Americans as they do, so Ribbon still has a way to go before they can close the woof gap. 

Unmasked at Last

As we said earlier, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Zoinks! is that a lot of flattery. But now that Velma and the rest of the Scooby gang have rounded up the Copycat Monster, it’s time to unmask it and see who it REALLY is:

Jinkies! Look at the security certificate! They are really just Legal Zoom! Their terms of use also make it very clear who they actually are:

Well, as we said earlier, maybe all is fair in love and startups, as long as one adheres to one’s own values, correct? Oh, wait…

“Fiercely transparent.” Maybe they’re defining “fiercely” or “transparent” in some non-traditional way. Language is ever evolving, after all.

So What?

Well, okay, they copied us and weren’t super upfront about who they were, but why does that matter? They’re both companies that can help you start your business, correct? Tomato, to-MAH-to. Pepsi, Coke. Newsweek, Time. Madonna, Lady Gaga. But maybe we should put this question to less-partial folks:

But the good news is that Ribbon’s rating is MUCH better:

What does it mean for ZenBusiness?

We don’t want you to worry about us. We aren’t going anywhere. In fact, all of the above is good news because: • It shows ZenBusiness is going in the right direction. All that very sincere flattery (read: imitation) means we’re doing something right. • We are moving and evolving so fast that it is hard even for a very speedy admirer to catch us. • We continue to listen to our customers, and you can’t beat good customer service and customer experience with just a website. • Our designer only cried for a day! Now she is inspired to work twice as hard and twice as fast. • Our dogs are still cuter. • We are the trendsetters, innovators, and disruptors…the Kobe beef of businesses that help start businesses. ❤️ Screenshots in this article were taken between 09-27-2018 and 10-22-2018

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