Social networks have been all the rage for over a decade now. In the past years, Facebook has consolidated their leadership in personal networking and Linkedin has become the undisputed leader of business networking.
A side effect of this consolidation is that business models have also consolidated, leaving out a lot of potential applications and use-cases that do not fit the current models.
Both Facebook and Linkedin have business models that focus on monetizing their respective social graphs through advertising. LinkedIn also monetizes search, analytics, and recruiting.
To protect their data and business, they have largely cut off API access for third parties. Consequently, building third party applications that use these networks has become very hard, if not impossible.
At the same time, building a new social network has become harder due to the fact that most people already have their social networking needs covered by the existing offerings. Most wannabe new social networks face the ’empty room problem’, where they don’t become interesting until enough users are using it.
Inbot was founded on the idea that sales is fundamentally a social process where building relationships and trust between people is the key to success. Yet, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems used today by most salespeople are anything but social.
CRM is mostly used to manually keep track of conversations with customers. Relationship data is shared only within the sales team, and when sales people change jobs, all aggregated data in the CRM is left behind and they take their social network with them.
Marketing automation has emerged as a software-based mechanism to help companies to generate leads in a more automated fashion. The problem with it today is that the spam and noise generated by these applications is deafening, and making everyone harder to reach.
Initially, Inbot started out as a disruptive play to make CRMs find and provide links to new business opportunities. Over time, we realized that we should focus solely on social lead generation, and decouple it from teams and companies that CRM vendors target.
Since last August, we have rolled out a community that we hope will one day rival that of Linkedin but yet works very differently.