The buzz surrounding the corporate monetization of social networking sites is enormous. It’s constant, controversial and ultimately coming up short. Until now.
With a dash of brilliance, a dollop of attitude and the drive to change the way the world thinks about innovation – Ben Kaufman debuted Kluster in mid-February. Prior to launch, Kaufman’s brilliance landed him an entire room at TED to demo his new social network to the great minds, celebs and deep pockets of the industry. Did I mention that he’s 21?
As the CEO of Kluster, Ben got his start in the world of innovation three years prior with his start up, Mophie. As a product development outfit, Mophie creates iPod headphones and accessories – including the Bevy, which, if you’re reading this blog Mr. Kaufman, is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. If only I had a Shuffle. I actually considered buying one after hearing about the Bevy; just so that I had everything I needed in life on my key chain. My music, a bottle opener and my keys.
So what exactly is Kluster and just how does it work?
As Kaufman explains it, Kluster is a social networking site at its core. But keep reading, because it blows MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Wikipedia off the map when it comes to corporate participation and the ultimate purpose and benefit of social networking to the corporate world.
As we’ve all become accustomed to, Kluster of course allows you to create your profile (complete with the obligatory photo) and interact with other users. What sets the network apart is its purpose. When Mophie took off, Kaufman quickly recognized the power of collaboration and set out to create a way for people to get together, brainstorm and execute innovations ultimately deciding what the next “big thing” will be, rather than buying into the newest gizmo, cure, or plight to fight world hunger when someone else brings it to the attention of the world.
The genius behind this network being that it allows members to ultimately speak with and get direct feedback from future users, refine their innovation based on that feedback and execute. Did I mention membership is free? Complete with its own virtual economy, algorithms to accurately determine which ideas will prevail and the possibility of turning a great idea into real dollars – Kluster will accelerate corporate participation in the social networking scene. And ultimately, do a little good for the world if we’re lucky.
Kluster will eliminate the perils of tapping into an elusive target audience with the standard and ignored survey and less than productive focus group. It provides the opportunity to present new ideas and creations to the world and to those who may not otherwise know where to start. It will allow companies to cast a tighter net around the illusive ROI by testing out marketing campaigns prior to spending millions on a media plan only to find out that no one in your target audience is actually responding to your message. It’s genius.
And while you may be thinking, “Hello! Intellectual property nightmare.” Kaufman has that part figured out too. 21 years old. Innovative. Out to change the way the world collaborates and setting the stage for companies across the globe to rejuvenate the development process. I can’t wait to see what comes of this.