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How often do you consider your business relationships in the social realm? Did you ever realise how powerful its influence can be in developing your company? Social startup Ziliot.com wants to harness the power of social networking, to “bridge the business trust and information gap between developed countries and developing countries”.
Memeburn spoke to Aniekan Okono, the 30 year-old Founder of Ziliot. Okono runs the company from Finland with his business partner, Tuan Vu, a software engineering graduate with a “distinguished interest in business”.
Becoming the leaders of B2B
Ziliot is all about bringing new business to the masses. Okono cottoned on to the idea “after encountering certain problems trying to reach out to distributors in other European, African, Asian and South American countries when I was an international sales manager”.
Ziliot is different because it “brings together relevant organisations, enabling users to search for their members and follow them.” Okono believes that it is better to connect and do business with “validated and trusted” companies. Ziliot will “enable interaction for all companies”.
Okono tried to create a magazine at first, but realised that the operating costs would ultimately not result in a profit. He looked at LinkedIn and Alibaba but discovered that “following up on leads and getting to know a company on a personal level was difficult, if not impossible. Trust is missing on these networks and we are providing a way to network and verify this trust”.
The interface itself is surprisingly Facebook like, although more like a version of the social media website which existed a few years ago, before it became an overcomplicated mess. The main stream has updates from various companies where comments can be added. On the left, suggested companies to follow are listed and on the right, the user’s profile can be viewed or edited.
Upcoming features include a marketplace, client reviews, an enhanced connections platform and validations. Ziliot’s long-term strategy is to focus on the emerging economies in order to get the US customers who are already on LinkedIn. The company’s ultimate goal is to become “very efficient in providing trust”.
Okono says that Ziliot will allow the remainder of the unconnected networks to discover a platform which gives them “added value”.
Okono explains that they would like to target the nine most populated countries on Earth (which can be found here). Many of them, like India and Pakistan, are emerging markets. Nonetheless, these are the countries which hold the most appeal for Ziliot.
Ziliot will have to compete against similar B2B websites such as Blue Fountain Media, a company which assists start-ups in becoming full-fledged brands. Other competitors include Airclic, a business which delivers mobile solutions for standard businesses which have yet to embrace the online market.
Of course, there is LinkedIn. According to the stats, over 36-million people visit LinkedIn on a monthly basis. It is practically the global leader in business communication, yet Ziliot hopes to meet the challenge of LinkedIn and provide a trusted professional social networking service.
Okono has been working on Ziliot since his graduation. He then began work as an international sales manager, after finishing a term as a personal assistant to his uncle, a Nigerian ambassador.
Okono learned about the various opportunities in the emerging markets and economies in countries such as Nigeria. With a BSC from the Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences, Okono set out to begin work as an international sales manager with Decatur Europe Electronics in Finland.
Vu also plans to graduate from the Central Ostrobothnia University of Applied Sciences and to continue excelling in both business and programming related subjects.
Ziliot’s founders believe the company will truly find its feet when the mobile app launches, allowing emerging markets with low broadband penetration rates to play around with it. Okono hopes to launch the mobile app as soon the website comes out of beta.