New startup Joincube joins social software fray — targets small businesses

Social software — software that gives companies and individuals ways to interact and share information — has quickly been winning the interest of companies looking to track progress and share knowledge better among their employees. A number of software offerings already cater to large enterprise customers. But Joincube, a new startup from Argentina, is now targeting smaller companies.

Since its October launch, the company has signed 100 such customers mainly in the US and Europe.
It’s easy to be (justifiably) skeptical of yet another player entering an increasingly crowded space. A few days ago, social software company Jive Software announced that it increased revenues by 85% in 2009 (reportedly to $30M) and added marquee customers such as SAP, Qualcomm and Kaiser Permanente. And another player in the space, Socialtext, recently announced a record quarter.
But a newcomer specifically targeting smaller businesses may still be able to carve out a niche for itself. For example, Zoho, a bootstrapped company with most of its employees in India and China, has more than 2 million users of its applications primarily within small businesses. Given the fact that it sometimes competes head-to-head with the likes of Google and, the company was able to surmount some formidable obstacles.
According to Joincube’s CEO, Mariano Rodriguez, the company’s focus on ease of use and customer service will be key in differentiating it within the small-business market. Mariano says that a typical customer purchases a 50-user subscription package ($39 per month) and is up and running quickly thanks to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. As an example of the type customer the company is targeting, he cited a law firm that was able to quickly integrate the software into their work processes in order to collaborate on creating legal documents for clients without a lot of effort expended on training and IT support.
According to Mariano, the company is currently working on pre-integrating some third party applications — such as VoIP conferencing –as a prelude to releasing a public application programming interface (API). Also, since customer acceptance has progressed faster than the company anticipated, it is exploring new, more aggressive sales strategies in order to take advantage of a window of opportunity it sees in the small enterprise space.
Though the company faces many challenges, not the least of which is the growing interest in the social software market from the likes of Microsoft, Google and Salesforce, its focused strategy could continue to bear fruit. One thing the company should consider is integrating its offering into one or more of the SaaS ecosystems — Intuit, Netsuite, or, for example — in order to leverage their captive user bases. Either way, Joincube offers one more option for small companies to take advantage of the benefits of social software: greater productivity and collaboration.
Joincube is based in Buenos Aires. It was founded two years ago by eight engineers who bootstrapped the project with $100k of their own funds.

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