Bizual, as Mashable noted in a recent profile, is a new web service that purports to help small businesses and freelancers attract new customers as well as find new suppliers — essentially a marketplace for matchmaking special offers from suppliers with potential customers.
As cofounder Elliot Jacobs explained, Bizual users sign up (the service is currently in an invitation-only beta test phase) and create “Bizual Offers” that offer incentives on their own products and services. Members can also take up offers from other Bizual members.
The kinds of offers Jacobs described as appropriate for Bizual included:
- 30 minutes of free telephone or email IT support
- 20 percent off personal training sessions
- Free social media SWOT report for your business
- 20 percent off standard rate for a Flash web site
- Free business cards with every identity design
- Up to two hours’ free business start up advice
The company is looking to target smaller businesses and freelancers lacking the resources to market themselves and source suppliers more widely. It’s looking to replicate the success of project management, CRM and billing services apps developed for the same market.
Mashable described Bizual as a “Digg for special offers,” because it enables members to “vote up” and “vote down” offers. It’s not clear if the act of voting is tied to a transaction — like eBay’s feedback profile — or whether, like Digg, votes can be placed irrespective of taking up an offer. It’s crucial that digital reputation models in such a context need to include measures and mechanisms to prevent a member’s reputation from being gamed positively or negatively.
Nevertheless, whether Bizual can attract enough usage to create genuine opportunities for freelancers remains to be seen. For the service to be useful, it needs reach and actively participating members creating offers. I’m inclined to believe that Bizual is something that might exist more naturally within existing communities of trust, such as a LinkedIn network.
Have you tried Bizual? What did you think of it?