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Technology & InternetThe Story of Two Siblings, Networking Frustration and a Bottle of Schnapps
Jonathan and Susanna Gebauer are not your typical pair of siblings. Though both mathematicians, the two are eight years apart and approach life in strikingly dissimilar ways.
Susanna likes to spend her time going on morning swims with her dog, Mikos - the largest bear of a Newfoundland. She bakes cinnamon rolls to bring into the office (“I know this batch is a little dry – but the next one will be like they are in Sweden!!”) She plans summer trips to the Baltic Sea and can throw back a pilsner with the guys; she is a devoted daughter and loyal friend.
Susanna used to be an energy consultant after studying mathematics, thus she is a woman used to working in a male-dominated environment. Yet, Susanna chops up her success to the type of hard work that is understood by both genders. Though her intelligence is intimidating (it’s actually Dr. Susanna Gebauer of Mathematics and Scientific Computing), she communicates the spirit of a friendly pioneer.
Jonathan is the younger of the two with wit so sharp it could cut through glass. Ultra slim and often seen peacefully enjoying a Lucky Strike, he catches friends off-guard with the ability to load a verbal debate with more ammunition than strapped in Rambo’s knapsack. Hyper-alert and poignant when analyzing the way people interact, what is most refreshing about conversation with Jonathan is his acute sense of humor. What is maybe most amusing is the tiny teacup Chihuahua he sometimes brings to the office, who yips at everyone, but nuzzles warmly into Jonathan’s coat.
Though having lived in London for a short time (his impeccable English comes through with a British accent), he is the archetypal Berliner: “Why would I go anywhere else when Berlin has the best aspects of the East and West– and bars and restaurants stay open for 24 hours?”
Jonathan is the crisp apple to Susanna’s cool vanilla ice cream. Yet the two of them have seamlessly made it work since their first round of brainstorming – turning their homegrown, international company into something of a delicious apple pie a la mode.
The Frustration and the Schnapps
The idea of exploreB2B came to fruition with the combination of Susanna’s former difficulty in connecting to other B2B professionals, a failed project, and Jonathan’s knowledge of social media. That, and a bottle of schnapps.
The two siblings had the idea to work together after Susanna worked for five years as an energy consultant and Jonathan was finishing up his studies. They soon culminated around one plan, but abruptly stopped when they met another Berlin startup with a similar concept. The result was a new round of brainstorming over a bottle of rum.
After spending the night talking about how to make people’s professional lives easier, re-hashing the years of frustration Susanna experienced trying to reach potential clients who were related, but not necessarily in, her professional field - it suddenly struck Jonathan the next morning (during the peak of his post-drinking sweats in underground train).
The idea and hangover hit him forcefully, as he changed route and headed for his sister’s place. Sharing with her what the two refer to now as a “Schnapsidee” (literally, 'shot idea'), the two formulated their startup solution: a publishing platform built for connecting B2B professionals.
“You see, while I worked in energy and utility – we often needed to utilize the knowledge of those in parallel industries, such as IT,” says Susanna.
“I thought, ‘There must be an easier way to do B2B business than to spend large amounts of time, energy and money attending far away conferences and relying on word of mouth.’”
That’s where Jonathan’s background came in. Familiar with both computer science and having grown up in the midst of the social media revolution, Jonathan saw the answer in the form of online, social engagement.
“All of the know-how and expertise Susanna and her company needed to access, already existed within web 2.0,” says Jonathan.
“The problem was that there was no platform in existence where B2B professionals could display their knowledge and experience in written form, beyond that of a resume – while also having the intention to formulate viable business connections.”
Thus, exploreB2B was born.
The Outcome & The Future
As it stands, the B2B publishing platform has grown over 400% since its official U.S. launch in April 2012, making impressive international strides in less than five months. The platform is present in Germany and English speaking countries around the globe (United States, UK, Australia, South Africa, India) and has infiltrated prominent B2B professional circles.
Riding with the content marketing wave, exploreB2B is not only a relevant place for professionals to publish and share their expertise, it has become a place for companies and brands to tell their stories.
“The idea behind offering both personal and company profiles came rather intuitively. We thought: ‘What can we provide to allow companies to personalize their brand while still encouraging individuals to have a voice?’ The answer was simple: Give companies a place to aggregate the knowledge and personality of their company members,” says Susanna.
The main article section of exploreB2B indeed shows articles composed by individual professionals, but when searching for a particular company, there is the option to view an aggregation of articles by various employees.
As exploreB2B continues to grow, what can we expect to see?
“Next on the agenda is to develop the ‘Expert System’ where users can rate the expertise of the author. Especially in B2B content marketing, it is essential to communicate thought leadership. This system allows thought leaders to be decided by the community, and be rewarded by becoming a resource for others in their field,” says Jonathan.
“But before that, our mission is to spread the word to B2B professionals that we are technological leaders in publishing, design and distribution. exploreB2B is a place where influence and profitability grow.”