Lyndon Wood, CEO and founder of business social network SunZu, chats to MarketingTech about how SunZu differs from LinkedIn, finding your niche and going mobile
Hands up who out there remembers Ecademy? Founded in 1998, it was one of the original online networking portals and, before the advent of the social networks we know and love today, had a large influence and marketshare.
Those days have passed, however, and things have changed. Last year, Welsh entrepreneur Lyndon Wood bought Ecademy “in distress”, and the result, at the beginning of 2013, was SunZu – ‘the art of business’.
Dublin-based SunZu is, as Wood puts it, “encouraging business owners to view the world a bit differently.”
“We’re not a CV database, and we’re not a photo sharing site,” Wood explains. “We are business first.
“We’re not interested in recruitment, or not even advertising – just a subscription business model, and a very cost effective resource for business owners. We really take the pain away when it comes to online marketing.”
“It’s about sharing of knowledge, encouraging business owners to pass their knowledge onto others, to inspire growth in their own businesses.”
There are of course elements of SunZu in other social networks. LinkedIn Today’s influencers section springs to mind, whilst SunZu’s articles tab bears some design similarity with Google+.
Yet the overall impression is of a more integrated, overall solution – and for Wood, his company is a completely different kettle of fish to the ‘big four’.
“We don’t knock the social networks at all, because I believe they have a place in any business, but you’ve just got to pick which one works for you best, otherwise you need an army of people to manage them,” Wood explains.
“We don’t knock the competition – infact we don’t see them as competition, we see them as complementary businesses, in particular, moving forward with SunZu.
“When people say LinkedIn is our competitor, they’re not because we’re very different business models.”
In terms of futuregazing, current wisdom in social dictates that if it’s not on mobile, you might as well go home. Wood sees mobile as an important part of SunZu’s future strategy.
“We will have a mobile application towards the back end of this year,” Wood confirms. “We’ve just strengthened our development team to push forward and really emphasise the co-working element, so it’ll be some game changing alterations to SunZu.
“As soon as any business changes, you start off as one thing – i.e. YouTube or Facebook – then you realise where the real need is, and where the gaps are, and we’ve certainly found that.”
If anything, Wood’s latest business venture shows that there’s still some space in social for the right idea, or more importantly, using a different delivery mechanism.
“The toughest thing is trying to find something that no-one else is doing, and that’s the same for any business, but in absence of that you find something that you enjoy,” Wood says.
“You can see the sort of sub-tech industries; there’s YouTube and Vimeo, then you’ve got Twitter with Vine.
“My advice is you can be the same as anyone else – my insurance business sells the same as anyone else, we just do it better.”