New Online Network Seeks to Connect Entrepreneurs
Mansueto Digital, the publisher of Inc.com and the online arm of Inc. and Fast Company magazines, this week announced the launch of an online business-to-business network and database of small private companies.
IncBizNet.com allows business owners and managers to post detailed profiles of their companies, while accessing an expanding Web-based business community.
Driven by a customized version of Open-Source Drupal software, the site offers a range of multimedia tools to help smaller businesses showcase their products and services, including pages to upload marketing materials and videos, a company blog, and a free press release newswire. They can also join or create internal network communities based on industry, location, or any other topic and led by an appointed moderator.
As the network grows, it will form an increasingly comprehensive database of U.S.-based private firms. The site is already pre-populated with companies from this year's Inc. 5,000 list of the nation's fastest growing small businesses. In the months ahead, trade associations and business groups will also be invited to set up online communities within the network.
Ed Sussman, the president of Mansueto Digital, described the new site as an online manifestation of the company's long-standing editorial mission to facilitate discussions among the nation's entrepreneurs.
"There is no other home for private companies online in the networking space that has our commitment to this community," Sussman said. "We've learned a lot about this community from our annual Inc. 500 conferences. We've been running events for private companies for almost three decades."
He said most existing business-to-business directories are too dependent on third-party researchers to ensure company information is accurate and up to date. By contrast, IncBizNet.com places the company profiles entirely in the hands of business owners. Sussman said he believes company officials are much more likely to get the story of their business right, rather than outside researchers. "We're deploying an army of users to do the work of a few paid professionals," he said. "That's really the essence of Web 2.0 technology."
To guard against abuse, a team of community moderators is charged with confirming the identity of every company on the network before they're allowed to join. They will also work around the clock to filter out spam or inappropriate content.
Next month, an outreach program aimed at developing next year's Inc. 5,000 list will begin sourcing new members for the network, which is currently live in beta form at www.incbiznet.com.