Do small businesses need another social network? Newcomer Powerlinx, which describes itself as a business-to-business matchmaking service, hopes entrepreneurs will answer in the affirmative.
The company's service, currently in beta, actually doesn't exist for social needs. The intention is to provide a platform to help small companies find partners that they might need to handle a specific process or business need.
One example is New England Miniature Ball (NEMB), a manufacturer of ball bearings that used Powerlinx to find three other similar companies that helped it expand sales into Germany and France. "I was really impressed by the results that Powerlinx came back to me with, which were all very targeted and specific to our business – it provided simplicity to a degree that I never imagined possible," said Michael Kann, CEO of NEMB, in a statement.
Another illustration is OMilk, a maker of almond milk that used Powerlinx to find a company that could help package its product using methods that passed muster with early retail partner Whole Foods. Its search connected the small company with the supplier of a bottle that helped extend the shelf life of its product. "We don't want you spending hours clicking around doing research, we really want to act as your trusted advisor," said Kristen Fergason, chief marketing officer for Powerlinx.
Powerlinx acts as an uber-database that sorts through information about companies around the globe and catalogs them by industry, region and other data points. It uses analytics and algorithms to find potential matches for its participants. Powerlinx helps qualify whether or not there is a mutual interest in a potential partnership but leaves it up to the companies involved to take a relationship to the next level.
"We don't want to get in the way of a deal and take a percentage of the transaction, we really want to ensure that we are giving the most qualified and relevant match," Fergason said.
The team behind Powerlinx boasts years of experience with companies focused on small-business services including Dun & Bradstreet, Yahoo! and American Express.
The pricing for Powerlinx is free if a small business just wants to explore potential partners. Paid plans start at $25 per month per member, for one introduction per quarter, ranging to $999 per month for 30 introductions per quarter. The company is hoping to reach 40,000 to 50,000 companies by the end of this year.