Taking aim at polished social media posts hailing business successes, a new platform backed by Yellow Brick Road founder Mark Bouris wants to get real about helping businesses to thrive.
Boa, the brainchild of business network entrepreneur Daniel Hakim, launched this week with a mission to make the elite old-school members' club concept free for all business owners to access.
“My goal is to build the largest network of business owners in the country,” Hakim tells Business News Australia.
“While there are other platforms or networks available out there, they are far too broad and none of them feel like the appropriate place for a business owner to speak authentically or discuss the things that matter to them, especially with a community that gets them,” he says.
“With most platforms, we all have to look perfect, like nothing is going wrong. But in business there is always something going wrong. Business owners really need this.”
In the lead-up to going live tomorrow, Boa (Business Owners App) has been in testing mode for 1,000 founding users while there were 3,000 users on a waiting list.
The platform is an extension of Hakim’s Club of Business Owners (CUB), a members-only community for business owners that he founded eight years ago, aged just 23.
CUB is also backed by Bouris, who is lead investor in Boa which has been designed to bring together the best features of Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn to create a media and networking platform for business owners.
"For a long time now, I’ve been wondering how to democratise what super successful people have always had access to,” Bouris says.
“How can we give every Australian, who is in business, access to great minds, great ideas and solutions? Boa’s primary undertaking is to give all Australian business owners access to what only a few have ever had in the past.
“Our hope is that it will be nation building and will make our business community stand tall among the rest of the world.”
Hakim has welcomed Business News Australia’s support for Boa, revealing it was the first news organisation to commit to sharing content on the platform.
“Business News Australia will be sharing the latest in business news on startups and capital raisings and stories that inspire,” Hakim says.
The evolution begins
Hakim says the platform is just starting to evolve and will change with the needs of its members.
"Right now, Boa is primarily being used as a support and advisory platform. Business owners are either asking questions looking for other business owners’ opinions or advice, or they are sharing tips, tricks and content that could be valuable to other business owners," Hakim says.
“We also understand there will be a need to arrange meetings and events, so we are now building a networking feature into the platform.
“People are also using it to seek referrals to service providers, so generating business partnerships and new business opportunities will become a very important part of the platform, I suspect.”
The vision for Boa was born during the pandemic, when Hakim says he saw CUB’s membership grow ‘faster than ever’.
“People were joining because they wanted to connect with people in the same position looking to navigate the big, shared problem that COVID created,” he says.
Among the big surprises for Hakim has been the honesty of business owners using Boa during the testing phase, with many openly sharing problems and looking for solutions from other members.
“A recent post from someone in the construction industry said his business wasn’t doing well. He asked: ‘Is it just me, or is it the economy - is everyone feeling this?’
“There was an influx of people in construction replying to him, sharing their insights and expressing their issues at the moment."
Helping to navigate the journey
“As a business owner, when you are on other social platforms everyone looks like they are doing well. In those situations, if your network isn’t that big or you don’t have a network, you can feel as though you are doing something wrong," Hakim explains.
“But the second you see that people are in the same boat as you, it almost makes it normal and those relationships help you navigate the journey. It’s important to know that other people are also going through the same things you are.”
Boa membership is free for company directors and anyone holding an ABN. Premium memberships for $45 a month provide boosted posts, allow members to list multiple businesses and allow members to create their own communities and events.
Hakim describes Bouris as a great advocate for small businesses and his support for Boa stems from his early involvement in helping establish CUB.
“Mark has been a mentor of mine for a very long time, and he is super supportive of Australian small business. We’re very much aligned on that front," he says.
“We both believe SMEs don’t have a single voice in this country. We don’t have a platform that unites us and enables us to rally or lobby for a better environment for business.”
Hakim’s inspiration for Boa was also inspired by seeing his parents struggle with the challenges of building a business to support their young family.
“Being immigrants, they didn’t have a network of like-minded people to turn to for advice. That’s why I’ve created Boa, to give business owners a community to turn to when they need a problem solved.
“The more people we can lift up the stronger we are going to be as a country and community.”
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