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For years, companies like Yammer and Jive have been creating technologies for employees of the same company to connect with each other.
How about two different companies? Mazree, a startup launching today, is a business-to-business (“B2B”) social network for employees to ask questions, review information, and discuss ideas. It is available for free for users who need a better way to simplify complex supply chain processes and interactions that take place between buying and selling organizations.
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On the site, users can showcase their products and the latest company news to impress their customers and partners. They can monitor external relationships through contact lists, custom groups, messaging and notes. They can also make a request to access pricing information, or share ideas for potential collaborations.
Mazree may prove to be a popular choice for large companies with an extensive network of partners, customers and buyers. In recent months, the Salt Lake City-based startup was able to land its first big fish: Intermountain Healthcare, the largest healthcare provider in Utah, which has a network of over 5,000 suppliers.
“The healthcare supply chain has many participants that don’t communicate or collaborate very effectively,” said Brent T. Johnson, Chief Purchasing Officer, Intermountain Healthcare. “Mazree is a tool that has great potential to add significant value to the healthcare supply chain.”
The technology has been a bootstrapped-effort. However, with a customer of this size, the founding team will be well-positioned to raise its first round of funding. The challenge will be to compete with Yammer, Jive or Salesforce Chatter if one of these more established companies steps up their B2B efforts.
In the future, the company will likely begin selling enterprise-wide subscriptions. However, in these early days, a “freemium” model is a tried-and-tested method, and may be the most viable way for the startups to infiltrate the ranks of large businesses and gain name-brand recognition. Read more about business models for enterprise software startups here.
“While Mazree’s initial focus is in the healthcare industry, we see Mazree as the platform for all business collaboration between buyers and suppliers, companies and partners, and peers to peers,” said Curtis McEntire, the company’s CEO, on the topic of expansion. He told me that the target markets include retail, automotive, manufacturing, construction, and even aerospace.
Prior to starting the company, McEntire worked for Intermountain Healthcare, and developed expertise in supply chain management. He left the company to work full-time on developing Mazree, and was able to land his former employer as a customer.
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