Not all startup companies survive, even if they offer a hot technology, raise loads of money, and have a solid business plan, but all that helps. Rick Marini, CEO of BranchOut hopes the $25 million he just raised, to go along with the other $24 million he’s previously raised, will make his new social network site—with direct ties to Facebook—the only choice in professional networking for jobseekers.
BranchOut is a new social networking application for people looking for employment, additional employment, or advancement within their chosen field. You might be asking yourself if this isn’t the purpose of LinkedIn, another social networking site with essentially the same mission, but Marini says there’s a huge difference.
“LinkedIn is a great company, and does a great job with 10% of the workforce” — executives and other high-demand professionals who make big salaries. “But the other 90% of the world is on Facebook. Those are the people we can finally give a professional profile to.”
In a nutshell the team at BranchOut believes Facebook offers a more authentic experience for users, and suggests that many relationships formed at LinkedIn are merely the result of two people meeting at a convention, business luncheon, or other similar function for all of five minutes, bringing into question the legitimacy of the connection.
For those truly looking to connect with others for the purpose of finding a job, or upgrading their present employment, Facebook offers a more realistic opportunity for these people because they’re surrounded by real friends and family members who most likely want to see them find employment and will help them achieve that goal.
Unlike other social networking companies, BranchOut is not a standalone website. Instead, it is an application tied directly to Facebook and becomes a part of a subscriber’s Facebook Timeline.
The application is simple to use and setup requires only a few minutes. In fact, the “setup” is really just the process of you providing information that will help you connect with your existing Facebook friends on a slightly different level. New users can query specific companies, people, or job titles, and the search results then become usable in a variety of different ways.
If a friend of a friend meets your query, you can seek an introduction through the mutual relationship. By clicking on the “Get an introduction” link, you’re then shown which of your existing friends knows this particular person. You can then ask for an introduction and the new relationship can be formed.
There are also search results returned where no mutual relationships exist, with the data simply gleaned from Facebook profiles. Reaching out to these people is no different than simply sending a “friend” request.
Using Facebook directly could be the savviest move yet for executives at BranchOut. There are approximately 850 million Facebook users around the world, and the relationships in most instances are closer and more intimate than those at competing social networking websites.
It remains to be seen what will ultimately become of BranchOut, but to date they claim roughly 25 million registered users so far, but expect big results from this round of funding. The company will use the money to improve its infrastructure and to develop robust mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
Stephanie Cable is from Salt Lake City and writes articles for CableTV.com. She is a big social media nerd and couch potato.