VBIZNZ (www.vbiznz.co.nz), the popular social networking site for businesses, is getting a makeover and a new name.
The new-look site, named B4coffee (www.b4coffee. co.nz), is due for launch at the beginning of August.
“The basis of the name is two-directional,” explains the site’s marketing director, Brian Clark. “Before you do business over a coffee you can learn about a person and their associated business on the site, and secondly you are able to complete your business on the site before you have a coffee.”
VBIZNZ started around two years ago when Brian’s wife Debra saw the need for a New Zealand-focused business-to-business network. The couple also run AdminCorp (www.admincorp.co.nz), a specialist business administration service. (See page 43 for Debra’s thoughts on e-commerce and marketing for start-ups.)
“Some of the businesses in New Zealand have been slow to uptake and grasp social media as much as they could or as much as they have been in other parts of the world,” says Brian. Debra responded by building the VBIZNZ website, beginning with her own network connections and then adding various modules and components as community interest grew.
“The network has progressed to the point where the members have taken it outside of an online environment and are now starting to organise and put together monthly coffee meetings, to do face-toface networking in Auckland and Christchurch, so it’s starting to take on a bit of a life force of its own,” Brian says.
VBIZNZ offers its members a raft of services apart from networking. They can set up a page profiling their business, they can start a blog, post event announcements, share news and information in the forum and resources pages – even set up their own special interest groups. The only time they pay is if they want to advertise their business on the site.
“We’ve found that a lot of New Zealand businesses are under-utilising the resources that are available to them,” says Brian. “They’re not grasping technology as much as they can or as much as it will assist them. So we’ve found there is a need and there are benefits from these networks for businesses, and there are a lot of tools out that you can gain from by investing a little bit of time instead of investing a lot of money.”
While mainly small businesses have gravitated towards VBIZNZ, Brian Clark hopes the rebranding and expansion plans will attract larger organisations to the network as well.
“The new platform will also give us a lot more capabilities than we have at the moment with regards to allowing anything from online shopping for some of the business members or businesses that list their products and services, through to expansion of advertising and increased networking capabilities for the members,” he says. “We also have the ability to develop the concept and expand outside New Zealand with b4coffee.com.”