A new company claiming to be the eHarmony of the IT channel has launched, and is looking to more than double its user base to 5,000 by the end of the year.
Channeliser was set up last summer by Jacqui Rand and Anne Lambton, who met while working at Microsoft in the early 2000s. The duo claim the site will help connect all parts of the channel – vendors, resellers, distributors, MSPs, ISVs and others – to each other.
Although partner locators and generic online search engines exist, Channeliser claims there is a gap in the market for a site which covers all specific aspects of the channel and includes a community element too.
"Anyone in the channel [can be matched]," Rand told CRN. "If you're a VAR looking for a solution, if a customer has come in and asked for an additional piece of technology you don't have, the reseller can look up additional solutions. Or an ISV or vendor might want to extend their channel into a new location or area or to launch a new product or channel."
The site currently has about 2,000 users, who have been attracted to the site despite the company's so-far limited marketing budget. Now that it has added a social media community element and boosted its marketing efforts, it hopes that number will rise to 5,000 by the end of the year.
Rand added that the value of the site lies in its specificity.
"It's really hard to put the specific info into Google and if you go to a vendor's site you'll only get Microsoft partners or Cisco partners and so on," she said.
Users are able to search companies based on a number of factors including location, accreditations, solutions and technical capabilities. This information, Rand said, is difficult to source elsewhere.
"It's really hard to put that into Google – goodness knows what you'll get returned," she said.
"[It is about being] able to search to expand your channel and be very, very precise about what you're looking for."
Channeliser is free to join and search, and additional functionality is offered as part of a 30-day free trial, after which it charges users varying subscription levels based on different tiers, similar to the model offered by LinkedIn.
Microsoft snapped up the professional social networking site last week for $26.2bn (£17.9bn). Rand and Lambton claim this purchase endorses the value companies place on information and having a social media community.
"The way we like to describe ourselves as [like] eHarmony," Rand said.
"They've got those great ads where they're walking on the beach, [because both parties said they enjoyed beaches], but he is walking next to a tortoise. We're far more than that. We're the eHarmony of the IT industry – you get precision matched and can drill down into exactly what you're looking for."
A number of similar industry bodies aim to bring together the differing parts of the channel, such as CompTIA. Channeliser claims such organisations are complementary, and said it is talking to CompTIA about ways they can work together.
Similar start-ups have materialised in recent years, aiming to replicate and improve upon partner locators.
Bruce Hockin, Cloud Distribution's director of solutions, told CRN that Channeliser's idea sounds interesting, and said the devil will be in the detail.
"The big challenge is relevancy and accuracy," he said. "If you can make it relevant and maintain the quality of information so it is accurate, you might have something which has value."
The deal builds on distie's earlier promise to distribute a broader range of electrical goods
Services firm sees revenue increase 23 per cent
Execs Zak Virdi and Neil Lomax open up on the rationale behind acquisition
CEO Steve Brazier slams vendor titans at annual event in Barcelona