ExploreB2B was founded in March 2010, by siblings Jonathan and Susanna Gebauer. exploreB2B’s mission is to improve business-to-business (B2B) communications on a worldwide scale.
Jonathan Gebauer studied Mathematics at Freie Universität Berlin. He has extensive experience in planning and developing versatile software projects. His technical background and enthusiasm for innovative web technology formed the basis for the development of exploreB2B.
Susanna Gebauer holds a PhD in Mathematics and has extensive professional experience in both scientific research (Universities of Berlin and Bonn) and strategic management consulting. Within exploreB2B, Susanna is responsible for business development and financial management, providing insight on global communication processes.
ExploreB2B recently launched the international version of the social platform in the US. Geared towards business professionals, exploreB2B enables people to share ideas, find future partners, and utilize international talent and resources.
MO: How does exploreB2B work?
Susanna & Jonathan: exploreB2B is a content-based networking platform for business-to-business communication. What this means is, on exploreB2B professionals publish their business topics, insight, inquiries, projects, opportunities for partnerships (etc.) in the form of articles on the platform. These can be sorted into various industries and categories. Members of the platform can subscribe to any content they find interesting or locate already published articles by browsing though our advanced search. The exploreB2B system guarantees that members are always exposed to content that is most relevant them.
Communication on the platform is organized into discussions surrounding each article; the messaging system also allows for more private communication. Articles can be shared onto other social media sites in combination with their presence on exploreB2B.
Personal profiles aggregate articles written by the individual user, while company profiles combine those written by the sum of their employees. The aggregation of articles creates a network of in depth, social profiles that exceed the limit of any other professional site on the web.
The content-based structure of exploreB2B makes our platform the best all-in-one solution for content marketing and content-based communication, while exploreB2B is also the first site that offers social discovery for businesses and professionals on the web.
MO: Can you talk about your recent launch into the US? What was the transition process like coming here from Germany?
Susanna & Jonathan: The US launch is part of our ongoing international efforts. We see the US-market as a key market, but our main goal is to provide a truly international networking platform.
That said, going to the US has been overwhelming – the amount of positive feedback we got from here is reassuring for us – we seem to be on right on track. From our experience in Germany, we can say that professionals in the US are much more open to this idea. Business in Germany is very often done in a very traditional way – which basically means: behind closed doors. Professionals in Germany are very often too scared to talk openly about what they are doing, and it took a lot of persuasion for people to adapt to innovation with the combined space of professionalism and social media. The US seems much more open to us in that way. Or maybe we just got better at our jobs.
MO: How do you manage to keep expanding and innovating exploreB2B while still maintaining true to your core values and vision? Or has your vision evolved as the company continues to develop and expand?
Susanna & Jonathan: I think that most of our innovative force comes from the level of enthusiasm that everyone involved brings into the project. We all feel that we are working on something very special here.
One of the advantages of working with a small (but very diverse) team is that everyone is bringing different ideas to the project. We have an incredibly long list of ideas we are working to implement! Now we just need to find the time to do so…
In terms of staying focused on our core vision – this has not been a problem. Even though discoveries within social media seem endless, we work within a competitive space that has not seen much innovation in the most recent years. The last real innovation in our sector was in 2003, when LinkedIn was founded. Our core vision for exploreB2B remains simple: to make worldwide business and professional communication easier, more effective and fit for the digital age.
MO: You often take feedback and use it to your advantage. Can you give us an example of a time where user feedback resulted in a new feature or innovation for exploreB2B?
Susanna & Jonathan: We do implement feedback almost everyday! Our user interface is in many parts influenced by feedback. Sometimes it is really small things we can implement within a few hours. A specific example would be the button we added to the topic section, which now allows users to write an article directly from this page.
The most exciting moments we have are when feedback leads us to whole new aspects of our project – these are the big moments when you see that this platform still has so many angles in which to evolve. The project board is a good example of the way this type of adaption can inspire new components of the platform – it was great to see someone from Japan putting up a project and connecting to some people in the US right after implementing it on our international site.
MO: What are some advantages and disadvantages of working as a brother and sister team? Any tips for other siblings who are starting or running a business together?
Susanna & Jonathan: Founding a company together can be a test for any relationship. Founding as siblings means that your bond is stronger than in most other relationships. Even when you (strongly) disagree about the strategies or daily problems of your company, at the end of the day, you are still family.
That said, before founding with a family member, you should ask yourself if the team really matches up – do you have the ideal combination of skills, or are you just working together because you like each other and would like to work together?
If it is the latter, then go find a different business partner. If it is the first, then you might just have found your perfect match for your business. That was the case for us.
One thing you should consider when founding with a close friend or sibling: your relationship is going to change. If you spend the whole day in one office, you will probably start spending more of your private life with other people, just for a change in scenery.
MO: If I could grant you one business related wish right now, what would you ask for?
Susanna & Jonathan: If you could make the process of creating worldwide media exposure for a small company from Berlin (with great international aspirations) easier, then we’d be very happy.
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