The 18th participant is ZaaBiz
ZaaBiz - is an online social networking site for professionals. It connects Australian’s in business with other professionals in Australia and beyond. Michael Brecht is the founder and CEO of ZaaBiz. Michael has lived in Australia for four years and saw a niche for an online social network that was geared towards Australians.

Let us explore a bit further about ZaaBiz. We asked a few questions and this is what Michael has to say:

Q. How long before it was up and running?
A. 6 months

Q. What stage is your company at?
A. Fully- functioning networking site for professionals.

Q. What is the main objective behind your venture?
A. The main objective is to be the leading & profitable social networking platform for business professionals in Australia and beyond.

Q. What services does it provide for customers/ consumers?
A. Groups, Forums, Articles, Newsletters, Advanced Search & Power Search, finding new business connections and more Web 2.0 applications under development

Q. What is unique about your venture?
A. It is Australian-based in an effort to provide a user-friendly and effective networking tool for Australians and those wanting to connect with Australian business people. It is unique in showing all connections to a particular contact; some are 6 degrees or less. Most platforms do not show all the connections. Premium members can send messages to other members they may not be connected to. This potentially opens up many new business opportunities.

Q. What market segment verticals are you targeting?
A. We are not targeting a specific market segment vertically, instead all professional business people. Our existing membership base shows a high percentage being small & medium-sized business owners.

Q. What type of customers are you targeting?
A. Our target market is business professionals aged between 20 and 55 years. Small business owners and entrepreneurs are high on our target list.

Q. What age group of people will benefit most?
A. Business professionals between the ages of 20 and 55 will see the most benefit.

Q. How many users are using your services?
A. ZaaBiz has several thousand users, with the majority from Australia.

Q. What sort of marketing are you using to spread the word?
A. SEO, SEM (Google Ads, Blogs, Invitations, Events), Online Partnerships, Affiliate Programs, Media

Q. How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are there any special tools in place to monitor the progress?
A. ZaaBiz is managed by experienced business professionals who have grown, led & managed several businesses of a similar type before. We have a monitoring & benchmarking tool set in place which is updated every month.

Q. What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there a new model which is being trialled?
A. Premium membership fees and Group Sponsoring fees. Premium members pay monthly, quarterly or yearly fees. Premium Groups are sponsored by corporations and associations alike.

Q. Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
A. LinkedIn from USA, however, they are not really focussed on the Australian marketplace.

Q. What are the main technologies used behind this start-up?
A. Webserver, Database, PHP

Q. Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
A. Apache, PHP, MySQL, Linux

Q. What is your operating environment (OS) and what type of database are you using?
A. Linux, MySQL

Q. How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up?
A. Weekly, through networking events and online forums

Q. How much money is needed upfront to start a venture?
A. Less than $1 million

Q. What are the main barriers in general for people starting their venture in Australia?
  • Need to be near a big city to generate capital backing.
  • The remoteness of Australia in a global marketplace.
  • Broadband availability in rural Australia.
Q. What are your thoughts on future trends of your service and the market segment you are in?
A. Business networks are ever-growing and still an underdeveloped market.

Q. Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
A. Plan your infrastructure and outsource help where you need it. Plus have enough capital behind you because your business may not grow as fast as you need it to.

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