VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Partnerpedia Solutions Inc. has been around for over 15 years helping businesses extend their market reach, recruit new partners and effectively manage relationships with current partners. However, the explosion of business-to-business social networking pushed the company in an online direction – which now has it thriving with foreign businesses, such as ones from India.
Headquartered in Vancouver, Partnerpedia had fashioned itself a steady business providing partner services to the marketing and sales departments of mostly largely companies, headlined by giants such as Microsoft Inc. and Research in Motion Ltd. These larger companies have the resources and impetus to spend money on products and services to manage relationships with partners and vendors. They also have large networks of partners and vendors that necessitate attention to that part of their business, and make spending money in that arena worthwhile.
But in the last several years, as online social networking heated up in general, and also took off with the business community, Partnerpedia saw a way to broaden its customer base and help smaller companies find business partners and vendors, using the cost-effective tool of a Web-based partner community.
According to Partnerpedia, the company helps small- to medium-sized businesses market their products and services, utilize existing sales channels, find and recruit new partners and collaborate on joint projects – all online through a Web community that Partnerpedia hosts through its company Web site.
Companies that join the community can search for other businesses in their sector and connect with them on potential projects or business, but they also are exposed to other companies looking for similar things. Partnerpedia offers three services related to its online partner community: Partnerpedia Open Community, a free, online community; Partnerpedia Private Community, a privately branded community for a company’s existing networks of partners; and Partnerpedia Custom Solution, which is designed entirely to meet specific customer needs and partner strategies. The open community is free and the other two Partnerpedia offerings are pay services.
When Partnerpedia first launched is new services the initial focus was on the United States and Canada, but the online nature of the business opened it up to the world – and foreign businesses responded. Now the company does 25-30 percent of its business with international companies.
“[Partnerpedia’s services are] a great way for smaller vendors, you know B2Bs, to reach out across their boarders to find business partners,” said Sam Liu, Partnerpedia’s vice president of marketing.
Liu points out that, for any company, doing business overseas requires local partners on the ground in a country and using social media and a partner community like Partnerpedia’s is a much easier way to find them. According to Liu, the interest Partnerpedia has drawn is from foreign companies that are looking for vendors in the United States or have developed products and are looking for customers in the United States.
“They are trying to figure out how to sell these products in the U.S. through the appropriate channel partners,” said Liu.
In addition to Liu, Partnerpedia’s management team also includes: Chief Executive Officer Mark Sochan, Chief Technology Officer Geoff Mair and Chief Operating Officer Rick Brooks-Hill.
According to Liu, India consistently falls into the top handful of countries that international members are signing up for the Partnerpedia community from. He credits this to India being a large, English speaking country, but also one that has a strong technology business correlation to large industries in the United States. He also believes that there are many smaller U.S. companies using Partnerpedia’s partner services to find companies in India to partner and do business with.
All of these things have made Partnerpedia pay more attention to India.
“We are mostly focused on the U.S., but we are looking at other countries, such as India, U.K. and Brazil,” Liu said. “Our natural progression would be to go after those countries that are looking for a slightly broader media outreach.”
Mumbai-based Techgyan is an example of an Indian company using Partnerpedia’s services to try and become a more competitive technology services provider with customers all over the world.
Partnerpedia also touts itself as playing a role in educating business in how to use social media effectively to drive business. As Liu points out, this means finding business partners that will ultimately drive sales.
“By and large most people who are joining Partnerpedia right now are companies trying to find partners,” said Liu. “We are focused on driving sales … Social media is a means to the end, not the end.
“You are not doing social media for the sake of doing social media. You are doing it to drive sales,” he added.
As a revenue model, Liu said that Partnerpedia’s free partner community is mainly about volume and getting a percentage of the companies that join to seek additional paid services, which happens frequently as they realize the value of effectively managing partners. According to Liu, Partnerpedia Private Community was prompted as a pay service by online users asking for a way to control their own online community, the branding of it and the content.