From their Ohio headquarters, IndustryHuddle and its IndustryHuddle.com web address have quickly established themselves as a promising, free social trade network for B2B companies and professionals. The goal is to be the social network where professionals can connect with suppliers and customers in their industry to help them increase product sales and generate new business leads.
“As the director of a buying group, I saw a need for companies to take the marketing and networking aspects of a buying group into an online environment,” President and CEO Zachary Haines says. “We believed there was a need for a social network that actually understood business. This is a place for everyone in all corners of the supply chain, in more than 60 unique product and service industries. Users can sign up for free to build their profile, and they can choose what industries, products and services suit them best.”
Although Haines is also executive director of DPA Buying Group, DPA and IndustryHuddle are separate entities. Certainly, there are opportunities for DPA to find leads and connections by being a part of IndustryHuddle. But there are also other buying groups and companies that are not a part of DPA’s network that have signed up on IndustryHuddle.com. “We encourage DPA’s member distributors and preferred suppliers to join, but this site is by no means just for DPA members,” Haines says.
Blazing a Trail
IndustryHuddle is a true pioneer, the first social network of its kind. The free service offers instant savings and connectivity to users by simply by signing up. Thus far, IndustryHuddle has already gained more than 25,000 users, and it is experiencing growth at a rate of approximately 100 new sign-ups each day.
“Every industry has its own landing page, or huddle, where users can connect and find opportunities,” Haines says. “Companies can buy ads and sponsor industries to have their logo on their respective industry page.”
Started in 2014, IndustryHuddle has been able to quietly and privately amass its user base through hard work and the addition of new features. Among the added features is a revamped jobs platform where users can post and apply for job listings that tie in with one of the world’s largest online job portals. In addition to jobs, IndustryHuddle’s top navigation bar also allows users to connect with other companies and professionals, and to visit the different areas of the site.
“Everything we do is driven by user needs as we try to see what works for them,” Haines explains. “For example, a manufacturer may be having trouble finding a territory sales rep. Through IndustryHuddle, they can find what they are looking for thanks to our search tools.”
Beyond these new benefits, IndustryHuddle provides users with complete access to a directory of companies and professionals in more than 60 product and service industries. Online resources, cost-saving promotions and the HuddleSavings program enable the site’s users to realize big savings on their operational and business expenses.
Among the network’s additional features that have recently gone live is a comparison shopping engine that IndustryHuddle calls HuddleMall. The HuddleMall, also located at HuddleMall.com, is industry specific and outfitted for the entire supply chain. The feature will host products directed for consumers at lower-than-retail prices.
HuddleMall is designed to be IndustryHuddle’s online marketplace, and if desired, a company can have its own store within the HuddleMall.
“When companies upload their products, we can populate their HuddleMall store as part of our online marketplace,” Haines says. “If someone clicks on a product, they are sent to that company’s e-commerce site through a ‘punch out.’ We get money for the click-through, and the company gets more exposure, qualified leads and greater sales opportunities.”
The Next Steps
To make all of this innovation possible, IndustryHuddle has invested heavily in server technology and finding strong internal and external web developers. Haines says an immense amount of effort around technology and programming has been required to get IndustryHuddle to where it is today. More investment in those areas is sure to be needed in the future.
In the end, IndustryHuddle is aiming to revolutionize how companies find leads and do business. For that to happen, the company is committed to doing whatever it can to continue and accelerate its growth.
“We’re happy with our growth, but we need more than 25,000 signed up,” Haines says. “We want to get to 250,000 members and beyond. We need to be aggressive to get companies to sign up and encourage others to do the same.”
IndustryHuddle has been pursuing growth organically, encouraging new users to invite their friends and contacts. That word-of-mouth growth has been critical. However, Haines thinks IndustryHuddle may also explore growth by seeking out some venture capital.
“We think we would be attractive to venture capitalists because they don’t always come across ideas that are this developed,” Haines says. “This is more than conceptual, and that capital could help us promote and develop the network.”