It does, especially for small business owners, which haven’t had a social network built specifically for them until now. Small business owners have it tough – they’re 50% of our GDP and the lifeblood of our economy, but they don’t get to access sophisticated technology that larger corporations have, they wear many different hats, they’re constantly being marketed to, and being an entrepreneur can be a lonely endeavor.
Yes, there’s Facebook. But as far as small businesses are concerned, Facebook is an advertising and marketing platform, not an engagement platform. As a small business owner, you may have followers on Facebook, but you have to pay Facebook to access them. So, what are the other alternatives? If a photographer in Peoria, Illinois, wants to network with other small business owners in Peoria, their best bet is probably a Chamber of Commerce mixer, the same as it was decades ago. And if they want to talk shop with photographers in other markets, they’ll need to hunt down a photographer-focused chatroom, which isn’t exactly advanced technology.
That’s why we were so excited when Eric Groves and Venkat Krishnamurthy came to Mayfield to talk about Alignable, the hyperlocal social network for small business owners. Alignable debuted its service last year, is in use today in every state in the U.S. across 7,000 communities and has enabled 500,000 connections between small business owners of all kinds. The platform now features ratings and detailed reviews from thousands of small business owners across relevant products and services they use. Alignable makes it easy for small business owners to establish relationships that can lead to referrals and new business.
Small businesses have flocked to the Alignable platform, which thus far has grown only through word of mouth, exactly what we want to see from a social network. They’re also pioneering a new path for social network business models. They’re focused on growing fast and keeping engagement high right now, but we don’t expect them to necessarily pursue an ad-driven model. They’ll have multiple monetization options available, partly because they’re unifying small businesses through the Internet in a way that hasn’t been done before.
So, for us, yes, the world does need another professional social network. There are numerous vertical social networks, but Alignable is on a whole other trajectory because of the vast size of the small business market. They’ve figured out what this immense, diverse market needs and are delivering the platform to bring small business owners together.
Congratulations Eric and Venkat and your entire team on your funding round today. We’re excited to partner with Alignable on the next stage of your journey.
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse