May 26, 2016

Plonked: Search Engine That Means Business


plonked
Usefulness
Funtionality
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Summary


When you're seeking the right information, you use Google. When you're searching for the right company, you use Plonked. The question is whether this business search engine will be a hit for small businesses too.

If Google and LinkedIn had a child, it would be Plonked, a newly-minted search engine designed to discover, analyze, and connect searchers with businesses for the purpose of building a sales pipeline, securing venture capital, or finding employment.

Currently, Plonked’s database only contains a list of 250,000 tech companies, but efforts are underway to include all of the 24 million businesses in the U.S. by year-end. Once it accomplishes that feat, it plans to set the bar even higher and include all companies worldwide.

How Plonked Works

Conduct a search on Plonked using industry-related keywords or a company name and you will see results similar to those pictured in the screenshot below.

cloud computing results on Plonked

Click on an individual return and Plonked takes you to a company profile page that contains:

  • Company information — founding and funding data, employee count, location and background info;
  • Industry-related keywords;
  • List of similar companies;
  • Connections — company employees with whom Plonked users are connected;
  • Company leadership team members;
  • Media “traction” — aggregate data and a list of recent articles written about the company.

IBM result on Plonked

If you click the “View Explorer” link, you are presented with a visual depiction of related businesses based on four criteria: similar companies, partnerships, customers and vendors. A slider lets you pick the number of relationships shown, from 0 to 50. Also, users can click on any of the other companies included in the visualization, to explore further.

Plonked view explorer

For example, a search on Explorer for IBM revealed a vast network of related companies — 232 in all, to be precise — far exceeding the 50 returns limit.

A Focus on Connections

Connections comprise the heart of Plonked’s algorithm — ranking is even driven by company-to-company relationships — and even Kevin Bacon has nothing on this search engine’s ability to foster them.

“More than a knowledge base, Plonked is a search engine that unlocks connections and identifies leads and opportunities with business health metrics that provide greater insight into how companies are actually performing,” said Plonked Founder and CEO Ankur Varma in an interview with Small Business Trends. “The Plonked engine helps users understand a company’s ecosystem, including competitors, partners, vendors, investors and customers.”

The search engine has already made plenty of connections in the short time since its launch, according to Varma.

“The business network we have created is already yielding fascinating metrics, such as the average separation of 3.5 degrees for most tech companies,” Varma said. “In other words, even the most obscure small businesses are in fact connected to the other 24 million businesses in the United States in just 3 to 4 hops.”

Premium Options for Sales Teams

Anyone can use the search engine for free, but premium options are available for businesses that wish to build out their sales pipeline, identifying prospects that are similar to existing customers and which have first- and second-degree connections.

Starting at just $25 per month, the cost is nominal. Not only does it provide businesses with the ability to search and connect with other companies but also receive notifications when new connections or companies emerge and identify new leads by analyzing its existing customer base.

A second price tier — $250 — gives companies the ability to integrate with CRM and marketing automation tools, such as Salesforce.

User Profiles Promote Connections

Plonked gives individual users the ability to sign-up and create a profile for free. Once set up, the platform searches the person’s contact database for connections. Users can also invite others to join, creating another avenue for connecting.

In addition, subscribed users can follow companies and receive updates when new connections or companies surface. They can also edit company profile information, Wikipedia-style. And similar to Wikipedia, Plonked reviews and approves updates before they go live, to prevent spammers or trolls from posting information that could injure a company’s reputation.

Benefits to Small Business

When asked about benefits small businesses could expect to accrue from using Plonked, Varma said, “When people search for a particular type of business, Google will list all kinds of results and show paid returns at the top of the page. Not only will our search provide more relevant returns but there are no ads, which can help small businesses that don’t have deep pockets. It’s more of a fair-play solution.”

Businesses can also update their profile information, to increase relevance, according to Varma.

Why “Plonked” Chosen as Brand Name

Face it, tech companies often have obscure, even indecipherable brand names, and Plonked is no different. There is a story behind its choosing, however.

Varma explained:

“About a year ago when we were doing some due diligence before starting the company, we spoke to several sales guys about how they research companies and build their target list. One sales guy said that he had to ‘plonk’ down tons of money for useless lead generation engines that had dubious ROIs. That conversation stuck with me; especially the word (action) plonk … we did some domain searches and were able to get plonked.com.”

Conclusion

Plonked’s emphasis on helping business users explore, discover and connect with companies makes it ideal for sales and marketing professionals seeking to find prospects, as well as startups soliciting venture capital or job hunters exploring employment opportunities.

Whether Plonked proves useful to small businesses remains to be seen, certainly at this nascent stage. Give it a few months to broaden its reach, however, enabling the search and exploration of all companies and industries, and it may be worth searching for your company, optimizing your profile and making connections. If nothing else, it could prove worthwhile as a channel for discovering sales leads.

Visit the website, give Plonked a try and leave a comment, letting us know what you think.

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Paul Chaney


Paul Chaney Paul Chaney is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. He covers industry news, including interviews with executives and industry leaders about the products, services and trends affecting small businesses, drawing on his 20 years of marketing knowledge. Formerly, he was editor of Web Marketing Today and a contributing editor for Practical Ecommerce.

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