James Sun, recent runner up on the Apprentice, founded Zoodango.com just before meeting Mr. Trump. He built Zoodango to help business people and aspiring entrepreneurs meet. He wants them to meet in person. 9000 Starbucks locations are even integrated in the site to facilitate the interactions. Zoodango’s essentially local business networking. Think LinkedIn meets Facebook.
The tough part for zoodango is the lack of differentiation from LinkedIn, the obvious market leader. LinkedIn facilitates interactions between business people’s existing associates, and helps them meet people within a degree of separation. Zoodango’s meant to be more about people you don’t know, about fostering relationships that can help you or your business out. As any web entrepreneur knows, building a community where one doesn’t currently exist is a tough thing to do.
Where Zoodango may have a play is as the bridge between networks. A whole lot of students will be graduating out of Facebook and MySpace soon, going from 300 social network friends to about five on LinkedIn. LinkedIn doesn’t offer much to the un-networked twenty something. If Zoodango can be first stop upon graduation, and help young business people build the network to eventually make LinkedIn work for them, it MAY have a market....but I'm not that optimistic. The question is, how many business people are eager to meet at Starbucks with twenty-somethings?
Note: Zoodango’s ratings multiplied ten fold the day Sun announced the site in Trump’s office....check it out here While the plug may have cost him the apprentice job, it certainly has to be the first social network to launch on national television!