His business is to enhance your social business

MICHAEL HINKELMAN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nathan Egan is CEO of PeopleLinx, which helps firms develop their social-business skills.
MICHAEL HINKELMAN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nathan Egan is CEO of PeopleLinx, which helps firms develop their social-business skills.
Posted: September 27, 2013

N ATHAN EGAN, 36, of Kennett Square, is chairman and CEO of PeopleLinx, a Center City startup he co-founded in 2009 after working at LinkedIn. The social-business company provides a software platform enabling clients to enhance their social presence. PeopleLinx secured $3.2 million in venture capital in March.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for PeopleLinx?

A: While I was at LinkedIn, I thought about creating a consulting/training arm for professional services. The more I discussed it with potential customers, I knew there was a market. When I pitched it to LinkedIn they had no interest, so I left and did it myself.

Q: How did you get started?

A: I set it up to have clients right away who wanted training and consulting around LinkedIn.

Q: You hit the ground running?

A: The first 2 1/2 years was just consulting. AARP became a huge client, and that's where we got our [startup] capital. When we came up with the idea for a [software-as-service] platform, we used consulting revenue to pay for its development. I ran up some credit-card debt, got money from friends and family, and delayed paying salaries as long as I could in the early days.

Q: What is social business?

A: It's about using social networks for business. That could be finding new clients, managing relationships with existing ones, marketing and recruiting.

Q: How's the biz model work?

A: PeopleLinx is essentially an app for LinkedIn and is sold to corporations. We tell potential clients "This is great for your employees and we'll help them use social networks more effectively." We sell it [to company managers] and it's distributed to their employees.

Q: The problem you're solving?

A: We solve a training problem with software. Companies spend lots of money on training, they bring an outside trainer in but it's hard to measure what they get.

Q: Whom do you compete with?

A: A lot of consulting companies try to do this manually.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: Prudential Retirement is among our biggest customers. We do business with a lot of law firms all over the world. Cozen O'Connor was our first law client.

Q: How much do services cost?

A: We charge a minimum of $40,000 annually. It costs more to customize a solution. We charge extra for increased reporting responsibilities and professional services like training.

Q: What's been the biggest challenge growing the business?

A: Right now, it's managing and recruiting people, putting in processes. We have 30 employees and we're on track to double that by the middle of next year. It's risky, especially if you hire the wrong people, but it's also about measuring our employees.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

Online: ph.ly/YourBusiness

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