Business social network ExploreB2B announced its official launch in the US yesterday, following the release of its English-language site in January.
The services aims to give professionals quick access to industry content, the ability to find “thought leaders” and the opportunity to publish their expertise. Unlike LinkedIn, users can select from a few curated industry feeds. Unlike Quora, content is structured as articles rather than question and answer sessions.
Siblings and co-founders Jonathan and Susanna Gebauer (pictured below) started ExploreB2B in 2010 and went live with a German-speaking beta version last November. In October 2011, the pair closed a six-figure funding round with the Investitionsbank Berlin.
Follow experts, find partners
Once in the system, ExploreB2B users can browse a personal article feed, post articles, follow others, apply to be recognised as an expert in a particular field, take part in topic discussions and use the project board to crowdsource new projects. Basic services is free. Premium services ($11.95 a month) let users view article statistics, analytics and impressions, make referrals and view who has read an article.
It’s easy to imagine the platform developing into an attractive alternative to trawling forums and individual websites – and vice versa, with individuals’ websites linking to their ExploreB2b profiles alongside Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Less clear is how the service will dovetail with existing trade journals, blogs and other sources of industry-specific expert advice. Those who’ve already achieved industry recognition may find the service less attractive; those trying to make a name may find it an invaluable tool to build a following of peers.
It’s not just a way to get your name known. As GigaOM’s David Meyer points out, the site’s project boards can also be used to look for specific suppliers or seek help solving business problems. Add a critical mass of users and ExploreB2B is well-positioned to become a top player in the business social networking space.
Other Berlin startups that aim to release in the US this year include online clothes sizing tool UPcload and fashion marketplace Nelou.