Chalkboard helps local businesses connect to people nearby instantly, locally, socially via mobile and web. With the simplicity of a real chalkboard, the company enables businesses to update messages instantly and as frequently as they want.

Launched a year ago, Chalkboard calls itself “Southeast Asia’s largest hyper-local network,” with nearly 8 million monthly users. Those users patronize about 4,400 small businesses in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines that use the network much the way restaurants and coffee shops for centuries have used real chalkboards: To tell prospective customers about the daily specials.

Businesses use Chalkboard’s technology to send customers who happen to pass within a one- or two-mile radius messages via Facebook and other third-party apps and websites. “Maybe it’s the soup of the day, or a special offer, or a message saying there’s a fresh pot of coffee on,” Nanvati said. “It’s simple, and it works.”

CEO Saumil Nanvati said member merchants pay less than a dollar a day for the service — and unlike Groupon or Living Social, Chalkboard doesn’t oblige them to offer steep discounts. “It’s not a sustainable model to give away 50 percent every day,” he said.