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Community Enabler

The 20th participant is Community Enabler

Founded by Rob Anderson, Community Enabler, trading under the banner of Cagora.com which is the flagship website, is a project tentatively called the Social Networking Challenge which will launch in March 2008. It is a Social Enterprise that is setting out to do its bit to make the world a better place by fostering Community Building and empowering Business Entrepreneurs and Social Entrepreneurs to achieve their goals.

It is run as a Profit Business, but will be launching Not For Profit initiatives such as The Social Networking Challenge which is designed to create a word-of-mouth Tipping Point harnessing the viral connectivity of the Blogosphere and major Social Networks such as Facebook and MySpace.

Rob describes the service in his words:
It has a shortcut way for people to browse and search the Social Networks for People and Groups. The same interface to enable people to browse on one page thousands of Bloggers, Podcasters and Videocasters.

People register free, Grab a Free Square on our 'Browse Boards' which will be a series of mosaics boards of photos and logos so that on one page there are thousands of Melbourne Facebookers or on one page thousands of MySpace Automotive Groups or on
one page thousands of Australian Blogs

We then sell advertising at the top of the Boards with at least 90% of the proceeds going to Charities as voted for by the participants.

By inviting your friends who join you will increase your chances of winning prizes donated by businesses in exchange for exposure.

People will also be able to participate in our Cagora Community Network that takes Social and Business Networking to the next level with Community Networking and Community Media.

We call it Community Networking because it's not about sharing Saturday night's party photos but rather about collaborative Local and Special Interest Communities. We have one community per topic, not hundreds of disparate groups.

Cagora is the world's first comprehensive network of over 20,000 Local and Special Interest Communities where you can meet and network with like minded people and create, share and browse interesting content like Videos, Photos, Blogs, Articles, Reviews and Polls. Each community whether it be Stonnington in Melbourne or Rock Climbing or Quilting is a one stop spot to the Best of the Web.

We've developed an Open Source Community Networking and Media platform that is rather like a cross between Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Yellow Pages and Google where the wisdom of the crowd enables people to easily find what they are looking for.

To date none of the big players have been able to engage the Small Business and Non Profit sector in a way that results in millions of organizations around the world providing detailed information into a comprehensive Yellow Pages style directory. With the exception of Google they have not been able to get these businesses to open their wallets to pay for advertising in large numbers.

We have developed a blueprint to do this by creating win-win within communities.
Let us learn more about Rob and Community Enabler :

Who are the founders
Rob Anderson had 15 years of experience in the manufacturing sector, initially as a Chemical Engineer and then subsequently in Operations and QA Management roles as well as a freelance Management Consultant. In 2000, I an opportunity to use the Internet to create Social Good whilst making it easier for people to find things online using Search Communities and the
wisdom of the crowd.

How long did it take
When we missed out on VC funding around the time of the Dot Com crash in 2000 I then started other online businesses and did Management Consulting work waiting for the market opportunity to emerge. Over the past 4 years, we've been developing our Community Platform and only recently launched the Cagora network. Our main growth project: The Challenge is still to launch.

Project Status
Stealth mode with The Challenge and early Beta with the Cagora Network

Main Objective
Make the world a better place by fostering Community Building and empowering Business Entrepreneurs and Social Entrepreneurs to achieve their goals. We aim to make a significant contribution to solving the Information Overload problem.

Services
Mainly free services
Social Networking, Social Media and eLearning but we also offer paid advertising and information products

Unique Selling Proposition
The first one-stop network of online communities within a structure of single local and special interest communities. We share our revenue with our members through our free affiliate
program and our Community Partner program and also distribute 80% of what a company would retain as profits, with our members and member-chosen charities and community groups. There are no fees to pay to receive affiliate commissions or participate in our 80% Bonus Pools.

Market Info
We target all B2C and B2B verticals. Our demographic target audience is men and women internationally between 14 and 114 years of age

User Numbers
We currently only have 40,000 members but expect to have more than 5 million within the next ten weeks

Word Of Mouth
our free affiliate program and The Challenge are how we expect to attract strong word of mouth, along with the PR aspects because of how we are generating revenue for the Non-Profit Sector.
PR is expected to be the main marketing channel. We will also have some paid advertising budget and in the longer term expect big impacts as our Communities achieve authority status within Google.


Measuring Indicators
Sales and total registrations give us a good indicator of business success

Monetization
  • Online and Offline advertising
  • Info products
  • Communication products
  • Affiliate revenue from 3rd party products
  • Also, we may introduce premium membership benefits
Competitors
Facebook, Sensis (locally) Google, Yahoo

Technologies
Our own Community Commerce platform is built upon the Drupal Open Source Content Management system (php MySql)

Networking
We do significant online networking and also participate in
Entrepreneur Meetup.com groups here in Melbourne

Investment
100,000s of manhours and about $500,000 in cash

Australian Barriers to Startups
We found venture and angel money very difficult to come by for an ambitious business model. Also not as strong a mentor base as in the USA.

Future Trends
  1. We believe the world is currently undergoing a Social Revolution which will have a far more far-reaching impact than the Industrial, Information and Communications revolutions that preceded it. The Social revolution is not just about Web 2.0 and consumer power, but rather a shift to re-assessing the importance of social values in society.
  2. We believe you will see more and more Social Enterprises that are not primarily driven by profits, but rather the social impact that will see the emergence of FREE as a new business model that makes things tough for many capitalists.
  3. We believe the re-emergence of the Community will be a key aspect of these changes.

Advice
Make sure you are convinced you a the stomach to see things through and that you get the buy-in from family in particular your spouse. Also, focus on generating cash flows early to sustain things should you find it takes longer to get your business going, and in the process minimize overheads until you are over the hump.

Thanks, Rob for sharing your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you in future on the progress of Community Enabler. All the best for Community Enabler and the competition in this carnival.

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