As businesses search for better ways to remain engaged with their customers and employees, social networking tools have offered attractive options. But most of these tools were never designed as business applications.
Bob Nunnally, CEO of Savannah-based Balaya, says his company is poised to address that shortcoming by providing a new venue for a business-centric social media solution that improves organizational communication and collaboration.
“Businesses are desperate to stay connected, and the most promising activity for that is social media – things like wikis, blogs and social networking sites – that have seen triple-digit audience growth,” he noted. “However, none of those tools were built as a business solution. Instead of a new Web site, businesses need an entirely new venue.”
Balaya’s first application is tick-it™, an interactive communication tool that runs like a news ticker across the screen of a computer or mobile device. According to Nunnally, tick-it enhances team collaboration and cultivates customer engagement while offering an option for generating new revenue.
“We can help any organization with a need to communicate instantly or constantly improve efficiencies and their bottom line,” he added.
The social media market, composed of enterprise, consumer and advertising social, is worth nearly $40 billion in all. Balaya will target a $14 billion segment of that market via a three-part strategy: direct sales, a focus on select marquee media clients and the establishment of channel partners. Revenue will be generated from setup and customization fees, subscription fees and shared advertisement revenue.
“There are two target markets for us: an enterprise solution and a consumer-centric application. Our launch partner for the enterprise solution is a major aerospace corporation that believes this type of tool can connect engineers more effectively and efficiently across multiple time zones and locations,” Nunnally said. “Our launch partner on the consumer solution is a major print media company. They will license tick-it from us and give it free to the community as the preferred way to get newspaper headlines and create their own messaging content.”
Competitors in the marketplace are currently providing Web-centric solutions or social media tools as an add-on to SharePoint, Microsoft’s browser-based collaboration and a document-management platform. Nunnally says Balaya has a competitive advantage over competitors because of its patent-pending technology, its ability to move early into both enterprise and consumer markets, and its rapid scalability, solid architecture and security provisions.
Balaya, which is located in Savannah, Ga., began its operations in 2007 and currently consists of four full-time and two part-time employees. The team has more than 130 years of experience, including Nunnally’s background in international and domestic operations; President Ian Bramson’s expertise in marketing, sales and product development; and Director of Technology Blake Ellis’ experience with technology startup companies.
Supplementing the years of team experience, Nunnally will take advantage of the resources available through the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a nationally-recognized science and technology incubator based at Georgia Tech. Balaya, one of seven ATDC member companies in Savannah, was accepted as a member company in January 2009.
“There is something very salient here for what a technology startup is doing. The faith and backing of ATDC and learning from our fellow entrepreneurs is priceless,” Nunnally said. “Being able to connect with other entrepreneurs, being introduced to business opportunities and having access to educational resources are critical to advancing our company.”
Howard Morrison, a self-described “community organizer,” is excited about what Balaya will add to the Savannah area. Morrison is the chair emeritus of the Georgia Tech Savannah campus external advisory board, a co-managing partner of Energy Launch Partners (renewable energy projects), and former chair of the Skidaway Marine Science Foundation.
“Savannah’s biggest business is education and our greatest asset is students, so companies like Balaya represent an essential consumer of our most important ‘product.’ Retaining these talented students in the Savannah area is the basis of our knowledge-based future,” noted Morrison. “Companies like Balaya only solidify and enhance our reputation in and commitment to this arena.”
About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 110 companies have emerged from the ATDC.
Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).
About Balaya: Headquartered in Savannah, Ga., Balaya develops social media tools that provide businesses tangible results and a competitive advantage. The company’s Web-enabled products and services move a brand beyond a Web site to an interactive desktop and mobile device presence that improves communication with employees and customers. For more information visit www.balaya.com or contact Michelle McWhinney at 202-361-2891.
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Writer: Nancy Fullbright