The recent beta release of Maui Springboard means a new platform for business interaction is now available to Maui residents. Maui Springboard is an online business networking site created by Ron Lunan. The site plans to develop as a free niche social network for Maui’s professionals and is welcoming prospective members to sign up at mauispringboard.com.
The network aims to promote growth and opportunity for Maui business owners and help members increase visibility and influence among the customers, peers and business partners. They also plan to build targeted business relationships and offer training through online and offline services. Maui Springboard intends to have elements of services like Linkedin and also create in-real-life (IRL) business mixer events.
“We’re on a small rock that’s part of the most isolated land mass on earth,” says Lunan. “We also have an economy built largely on tourism. That doesn’t leave much room for local business. I think that’s why we’ve seen such a push by the local government to provide services and events that help connect us. There hasn’t been a private solution to this local problem. This is where Maui Springboard will really shine.”
Built on the ning platform, the site is still in beta with the intention to smooth out any kinks in the platform. Current participatants can give input but are not required to do so. Maui Springboard hopes to come out of beta in early September with an easy and useful interface. The company says they’re “taking in a lot of information from users and are actively applying their ideas into the site architecture.”
According to Lunan, member base is growing at a rate of 28.57 percent per week with 18 new professionals joining every seven days. They expect month-over-month growth of 75 percent through August. By 2013, they expect to be the largest professional on-island network, eventually bringing close to 90 percent of all Maui business owners and professionals into their ecosystem.
Lunan emphasizes a concept called “social capital,” which is invested by each user based on the typical interactions of humans from email to gesture.
“Social capital is the oldest and most used transaction human beings have ever had,” says Lunan.”We spend and receive it when we write an email, talk on the phone, kiss our kids goodnight, or motion to our fellow cave dweller to pass the meat. It trades more often than all forms of monetary capital, and its effects are more influential. Few of us identify these little (or big) social interactions as a form of trade, but they are.”
Lunan also believes establishing a successful business network will also depend on engagement and purpose for the users. Maui Springboard plans to incorporate different levels of users–basic, pro and elite–later this year.
Some users have already found utilizing the network have helped them. Ermin Fergerstrom, and organizer for the upcoming Harness Economic Leadership for Prosperity Expo to be held April 13, 2012 (HELP Expo), says he found several inquiries about vendor tables and sponsorships from Maui Springboard.
“On Maui, most people will wait until the last week to register and or pay at the door,” says Fergerstrom. “I am confident that we will fill the room if not sell it out. The results so far, from a small group on this newly formed site, has been amazing. I can’t wait to see how [Maui Springboard] grows and impacts the Maui business community. [It] is just what Maui needs right now.”
Maui Springboard will hold an online brown bag session on Apr. 24 discussing the value of a Facebook page for your business. Some of the key points covered will be how to gain a following, generate engagement and drive conversions of a product.
You can sign up at Mauispringboard.com. If you have questions you may also engage with Maui Springboard on their social network sites at Facebook: facebook.com/MauiSB and Twitter @MauiSpringboard.