Interview With Taaniel Jakobs Of Zerply, "Making Professional Networking Less Formal"

    zerply_green_logoWe talked about Zerply, a California based startup with roots in Northern Europe that aims at letting you present yourself in a more professional way with profile pages that integrate with numerous other social profile that you already have. The startup announced the release of their endorsement widget. The widget lets you display your tags on any website so visitors can get an idea on who you are and more easily endorse you.

    To me, it is a more professional form of the Facebook Like button which has spread like wildfire all across the Web. Think of it, do people actually have the time to comment or share a thought on everything they come across? Those of you who know you well enough can simply rate you for what you are made of, a shortcut to recommendations, to be more precise.

    I had a chance to interview Taaniel Jakobs, from Estonia who is also a co-founder of Zerply alongside Christofer Karltorp (who is from Sweden). The idea was to understand Zerply better as well as the Endorsement Widget – Endorse Me button that will be launched shortly.

    ArcticStartup: Zerply, the concept and why do you think is it essential to have tools like Zerply to help build online presence?

    Taaniel Jakobs: I think that as the web moves more towards users connecting with each other strictly by common interests there is a need to validate the user. Today many of us create an initial image of a person by how many Followers they have on Twitter. But this first impression is limited, all it really says is that others find them interesting for one or another reason. The idea of being able to give, just as fast, a richer image of the user is needed, and a very fascinating challenge.

    AS: Your competition, how does Zerply stand out from others?

    TJ: Do you remember those great Mac vs PC commercials? You have two guys, one older, corporate looking, dressed in a worn out suit and a young down to earth, casual looking guy full of passion. From day one our goal has been to take “corporate” out from professional networking and instead build it around a love for what you do. Foremost I believe this mentality is what separates us from the more traditional competitors as LinkedIn, Viadeo, among others – this is reflected in everything we release.

    AS: Simple is Better – how do you plan to scale against the competition?

    TJ: By keeping on being a nontraditional alternative in a space that is considered by many to be generally dry and boring.

    AS: Coming over to the concept behind Zerply, why is it essential to have tools such as yours for Professionals to better market themselves?

    TJ: Today a professionals presence is scattered around the web, there are loads of great tools to be used for presenting your work and keeping in contact. But most of them show just one side of you. We want to give a richer experience that tie all these together creating a more accurate image. We believe this will lead to a better environment for networking and collaboration, and in turn lead to greater things being built.

    AS: The Endorsement Widget, how does it help professionals? Is it the idea of recommendations getting more personal and coming out of Resume’ and Professional Social Networks?

    TJ: On the web everyone can portray themselves as designers, accountants, investors, you name it – we want to help validate these claims and bring credibility. One way of doing it is to let people who already know you endorse you, meaning that they put their name and reputation behind the fact that you are who you say you are.

    From the start we gave our users options to add tags that defined them as professionals and we let other users endorse these tags. But recently we had the epiphany that this functionality would be most useful outside Zerply’s closed gates. It belongs where our users’ friends, clients and business partners hang out – on the web properties they own. The endorsement widget and “Endorse me” button brings this functionality closer to the people that know you so they can define you to the people that don’t.

    endorse_meThe Zerply team is comprised of 6 team members who are involved full time in Zerply. They include:

    Christofer Karltorp, co-founder/CEO, leading the Mountain View team. He is responsible for the business side of Zerply and ensuring everything is done as it is meant to.

    Taaniel Jakob – co-founder and leading the Europe team

    Eliza Karltorp – Zerply’s blogger and as Taaniel states an excellent bookkeeper.

    Josef Minařík – Is the guy who ensures their are least bugs in the code aka the lead developer.

    Luke Beard – Is the lead designer and ensures that whatever is displayed at Zerply is pleasant to the eye.