According to Metcalfe’s Law, the value of a network is the square of the number of nodes it has. That is, a network with 100 users is 100 times as valuable as a network with just 10 users.
That’s what George Seybold, CEO and founder of Talloo, is counting on.
The Talloo network, which Seybold has been working on for three years, is a community and technology platform to foster collaboration. Currently, it’s available as a webpage; the Boise company is waiting for approval from Apple’s App Store, with an Android version to follow later, Seybold said. “It’s cost-prohibitive to do both at the same time,” he explained.
Unlike other networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, Talloo is predicated on the value of in-person meetings.
“From the outside, if people looked at us, it’s just another business network,” Seybold said. “But when you look at the platform, it’s a significant repositioning of how we network online for business.” For example, two people planning to meet for coffee can make that an open event so other people can ask to attend, he explained. “More accidental collisions breed opportunity,” he said.
Consequently, for the time being, Talloo is essentially limited to the Treasure Valley area. “We have really passionate members, and our culture is really strong,” Seybold said.
“All the online platforms do everything they can to keep you online because they’re advertising-based,” he said. “They’re all about telling you to connect, connect, connect. We’re telling you to build relationships.”
Talloo has no “connect” button, and people aren’t required to be “friends” to communicate with each other.
“Some people in the Bay Area are really excited about this,” Seybold said. “They’re all about the face time and spending time together.”
To improve that, the company is developing a messaging platform for the software that would enable users to share a referral and then pass it to a customer relationship manager application to keep track of who has given the user business, Seybold said.
“It has built-in sales tools for the salesperson, not necessarily the sales manager,” he said. “The number of sales tools for salespeople is like single-digit.”
Future versions could provide a matching algorithm to help users discover other people who could refer business to them, he said. “It’ll be like Match.com for sales professionals,” he said.
But how does networking software like Talloo work when you have people on the network who are pests? “There’s an easy ‘block’ button that can make you invisible to that person,” Seybold said. “You can lock them out. It’s not about shouting, it’s about relationships.”
And while people could ask to attend a meeting, users don’t have to accept them, and they won’t see the location of the event unless they are accepted.
So far, Talloo is being built in-house by Seybold and his chief technology officer, largely self-funded, though it may be seeking funding in the future.
“We will probably have 20 employees by this time next year,” he said. “We will staff by the end of the first quarter with 10 customer experience people – not salespeople – who will introduce the application to people.”
The software uses a “freemium” model, where there’s both a free version and a paid version. Talloo costs $30 to $90 per month based on features.
“You can do almost everything in the free version, up to limits,” Seybold said.
Offering a paid version has two advantages, he said. First, the company doesn’t have to mine people’s data for advertising, like some other social media applications do. “We don’t even look at the data,” Seybold said. Second, “you get a higher-quality network when there’s a price point,” he said. “People are there to conduct business, and that’s what the application is for. We don’t care about being the biggest – we care about being the best.”