A Q&A with Kaleio founder and CEO Jim Riley. The Irvine, California–based company was founded in 2012 and launched its site to the public earlier this month with the mission to build a network that connects people based on their professions, at all levels.
SUB: Please describe Kaleio and your value proposition.
Riley: With Kaleio, we’re providing a completely free service. All someone needs to get started right now is an email address or a connected Facebook account. There are no upgrades and no premium memberships. Once you’re a Kaleio member, you have full access to view other users’ profiles, to post or answer questions, send messages to industry leaders, and get the latest industry news through a daily newsfeed.
In our Marketplace section of the site, we’re allowing people or brands to post job openings, special offers, or events, something other sites require you to pay for. We also provide users with Boardroom, a place they can have private, encrypted meetings with ongoing discussions, and where they can also upload, share, and even edit documents. And coming soon, we’ll be including full whiteboard and video functionality.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Riley: We built Kaleio with the global workforce in mind, regardless of title, level, employment status, or industry. There are approximately three billion workers internationally, so we’re wanting to be the place people go to connect with others professionally, eliminating the need to filter through pet and foodie pictures that are posted everywhere else.
Two of our latest industry additions include blogging and publishing, with new industries being added regularly. Some of our fastest growing industries include technology, education, health and pharmaceuticals, marketing and advertising, retail, entertainment, media, and arts and professional athletes.
And surprisingly, some of the industries that we’re seeing great response from are construction and stay-at-home parents—something you’re very unlikely going to see on LinkedIn, or anywhere else.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Riley: When people first hear about what we’re doing at Kaleio, they typically want to compare us to LinkedIn, so we tend to see them as our biggest competitor. After them, we recognize that some of our site’s functionality is similar to other paid platforms like GoToMeeting or Yammer.
SUB: What differentiates Kaleio from the competition?
Riley: One of the first things that sets us apart from professional networking sites or collaboration sites is fact that we’re completely free. Not only are we wanting to connect people and build industry-specific communities, but we’re also a resource for people and companies to post and find jobs, get the latest industry news in their own or across other industries, and to find answers to problems or to help others.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Riley: Having the vision for Kaleio, but not the technical mindset to make it happen, the first step was to sit down with a small team to identify all the functionality we wanted Kaleio to have. In all, it took us about nine months to write the design documents before we took it to development.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Kaleio? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Riley: The vision for Kaleio came from a desire to connect people by what they do for a living, by their industries, trades, or professions. After asking others if they had an interest in connecting with people by what they did for a living, and seeing that there was enough interest, we got to work.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Riley: The word Kaleio, means to call, to invite, or to announce, which we didn’t realize until after we purchased the domain. Initially, we hired a firm who first came up with the name, Kaleido, which means a group of butterflies, but we knew nobody would get that, so we shortened it to Kaleio and later found out that it accurately described what we were doing.
SUB: You just launched to the public. Why was this a particularly good time to launch?
Riley: The timing of our launch is really due to the fact that we are confident in our product and with what we could add to the current professional networking landscape. Since launching, we’ve seen some great growth and have received encouraging feedback, and we’re continually making site improvements. We’re excited to be providing a needed service to an audience that was being underserved by other networking sites.
SUB: How has the company been funded to this point?
Riley: We’re currently privately funded at this point by three investors, which we like because it provides us with a lot more control with where we’re going. There may be a point down the road when we’ll look into Venture Capital, as would allow us to scale beyond what we’re able to do on our own.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Riley: Our revenue strategy is to introduce advertising in the future as well as to release a B2B private-label product, which will allows us to generate the revenue needed to keep our current platform free and open to all users.
SUB: What are your goals for Kaleio over the next year or so?
Riley: We’re currently working to simultaneously roll out our iOS and Android app in the next 60 days or so, as well as to integrate better job listings into Kaleio to make it a trusted site for job seekers. And over this next year, our goal is to have one million members by the end of 2013, which once we launch our app, we are confident we’ll reach.
Kaleio – www.kaleio.com