Startup companies find help online

Sep 18, 2003, vol. 28, no. 2
By Diane Luckow



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In any industry, finding the right expert, service provider, financier, or contractor can be difficult, especially for startup companies.

B.C.'s technology industry, however, has the problem licked with a new online relationship-building system that tracks and explains the business relationships of industry members.

Called Zerendipity.com, it is a valuable resource that gives the nod to members' trusted contacts and shares information about their expertise through member profiles and visual tree schematics that detail core competencies, educational background and work experience.

The idea came from industry liaison office director Michael Volker, who asked SFU applied science alumnus Andrew Jones to make the idea a reality. Funding came from the National Research Council and Western Economic Diversification Canada.

“We all have our own networks,” says Jones, who now heads up his own small company, Concursion Technologies. “In our head we carry around a database of how strong those relationships are, what those people know, how they can help us and how trusted they are.” Zerendipity.com makes that personal network available to other industry members on an invitation-only basis.

“It's a vehicle for realizing the power and relationships that already exist in a focused community, illuminating those relationships, the people behind them and the knowledge that they have,” he says. “The ultimate goal is to match people up with the people they need to meet.”

“We're really looking forward to providing some real, tangible benefits to the local technology community,” says Volker.

Social software like Zerendipity is a growing trend on the internet, capitalizing on the idea that there is social capital which can be realized in online database systems.

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