Solaborate, a social collaboration platform for the tech industry, has raised more than $1 million in seed funding that will help drive its platform to market and allow it to continue to enhance its capabilities.
For many, the initial reaction will be, “Ho hum, another social network.” In some ways, it’s a reasonable response, considering that, between the big boys (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and all host of enterprise social networking platforms that have been launched, is there really a need for another?
CEO and founder Labinot Bytyqi acknowledged many of the features and capabilities exist already – that’s the nature of the beast – but he believes Solaborate has taken a unique approach to solving the collaboration challenge for tech professionals – the first deviation from the popular social networks that are designed for much broader user bases.
Built on the Microsoft’s Azure, Solaborate seeks to build a true community around content and product, but specifically for the technology industry. The UI is simple and easy to navigate, and provides a familiar look and feel that allows easy sharing of content, commenting and chatting, querying other community members for information, polling for ideas and more.
Where Solaborate really shifts away from other platforms is it has integrated real-time collaboration using WebRTC, which, in short, enables direct browser-to-browser communications, and which Bytyqi believes will be at the heart of the next generation of collaboration.
“This is the future of communications on the Web,” he says. “There are no apps or software to download, you don’t have to waste 20 minutes explaining how to install WebEx or GoToMeeting… It’s the next big thing and we truly believe in it.”
What WebRTC and HTML5 do for the social platform is enable simple collaboration between users on any device or network without the need for proprietary apps or hardware – for now, the only limitation is the need to use Chrome of Firefox, which have already become the preferred browsers for the tech industry due to their openness, something that Microsoft has yet to understand.
“There are a lot of places on the Internet where you can share information or network with others, but you can’t collaborate in real time,” adds Bytyqi. “By incorporating the best of social media, then taking it a step further [with WebRTC], Solaborate makes it easy to share relevant content from a central platform.”
The other significant differentiator for Solaborate is its ability to overcome the shortcomings of other enterprise social platforms by creating a community of users that includes virtually anyone within the tech industry, but allowing businesses and other segmented users to create unique user groups within the Solaborate community. This allows collaboration between colleagues as well as partners, customers, suppliers and virtually anyone else in the industry. Most enterprise collaboration platforms are limited to internal users, though there are a few that extend to individual external users for a fee.
In fact, Bytyqi says, having suffered with them previously, the limitations of enterprise collaboration platforms were the driving force behind Solaborate. He also says he intends on keeping the basic features of Solaborate free, supported by a content-driven marketing engine, allowing users to promote their products or assets or opportunities to what becomes a pre-screened audience. Premium features may be added for a cost in the future, which makes sense, as in-app collaboration will require storage and additional security measures.
Solaborate will be launching Android and iOS apps in the near future, with other mobile platforms to follow. Bytyqi also hinted at a number of additional features being added in the very near future, including the ability to markup or edit documents within the platform, adding another layer to its collaboration capabilities.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey