Facebook for the channel?

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Facebook for the channel?

It's not something one would likely reveal at a dinner party, but Australian channel veteran Greg Furlong admits that he has a personal itch to help companies better manage contacts and increase connections. 

Launched recently as Channelpace.com, the cloud-based service stems from Furlong's lack of faith in traditional CRM products, while and juggernauts such as LinkedIn were not always updated or accurate.

“It is a cloud based personal contact management tool, but then it becomes dynamic CRM with other users in the same company, and a business network tool, as well as social communication,” Furlong told CRN.

Furlong said the challenge for any channel manager is managing the relationships they form – and then maintaining those relationships when you leave the company and go somewhere else.

The key to Channelpace is as an employee, and a member of the site, your contacts are accessible to your colleagues, just as they would be with traditional CRM. But if you leave, your contacts go with you, but the contacts you made while at the previous company remain accessible for former colleagues.

“As a channel manager, my most valuable asset is my contact and relationships,” Furlong said. “And the thing is, I am not going to enter them into the corporate CRM, basically because I have no skin in the game.”

In addition to dynamic contact management, there is also internal instant messaging, and a presence feature so you know when one of your contacts is online. There’s also the option to tell your contacts – but not your competitors – about new ideas and channel product offerings.

“Our philosophy is that your contacts are yours,” he said. “When you are joining a company, lending contacts, when you leave, they go with you, but the contacts you made when at that company are still accessible to them.”

The basic product is free, but there are also two-tiered membership levels, starting at $20 per month. Furlong said these levels provide additional functionality, such as the ability to send internal mail (a’la LinkedIN) to people you don’t know but would like to have a business relationship with.

“We’re funded by an angel investor, and we’re thinking of doing another round of funding,” Furlong said. “They say it’s hard to raise money in Australia, but we haven’t found that. You just have to have the right idea.”

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