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Interview with Denise Hayman-Loa, Co-Founder and CEO of Carii, Inc.

Carii's platform fills the communication gap between public social apps like Facebook and Twitter and internal, private apps like Microsoft Office and team collaboration tools. Currently businesses, educational institutions and healthcare organizations cobble together their communications with multiple tools - email, websites, public social media - with the related costs, lack of control and inefficiencies.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Please tell us, what is Carii all about and what do you do?

Denise Hayman-Loa, CEO, Carii, Inc: Carii is the market leader in the new category of cloud-based enterprise solutions serving the needs of communities such as businesses, educational institutions and large non-profits who want to interact and collaborate in a private, secure manner. Carii's platform fills the communication gap between public social apps like Facebook and Twitter and internal, private apps like Microsoft Office and team collaboration tools. Currently businesses, educational institutions and healthcare organizations cobble together their communications with multiple tools - email, websites, public social media - with the related costs, lack of control and inefficiencies. Carii is a consolidated platform to connect the communication and collaboration needs of an organization in an open ecosystem on any device, anywhere.

Carii has numerous unique features such as patented affiliation technology, collaboration, full privacy, data ownership, real-time Chat, cross-community linkage, multi-media posts, sharing to social media. Carii is the only platform to combine all of these features. Carii's unique affiliation technology enables linking multiple private and public communities in a neuron-like structure and the company has filed a patent for this and other elements. Carii is fully functional and live on a global basis, with active communities in the US, UK and Indonesia.

What is the biggest challenge you face right now in telling your story and winning over new clients?

Hayman-Loa: Carii represents a new paradigm, consolidating so much functionality in to one easy to use, easy to control platform that it is sometimes hard for people to understand how unique it is and how it changes their current way of operating. Carii can be used for social, targeted messaging/emails, multi-media posting, collaboration, partnering, donations and so many other functions, all in a comprehensive platform, with privacy and control. That takes some thinking to understand, but once people get it, they get very excited about how powerful it is and how it replaces the cobbled together approach they are using.

Who is your target audience and how do you intend to reach them?

Hayman-Loa: The Carii platform has broad applicability to many types of organizations globally. The team is focused on selling to businesses (initial focus is on Healthcare), associations, large non-profits and educational institutions. An ideal Carii customer is someone like the United Way with a headquarters function, many local chapters, and a need to communicate with donors. With Carii, they get a completely integrated package designed for their exact needs. We have a notable presence on the ground in Indonesia because our development team is there. Indonesia is a fertile and rapidly growing market and Carii's team on the ground is actively marketing there. The City of Bogor, Indonesia, population of 5M, is already committed to using Carii as their communication platform for their city-wide initiatives.

I'd be curious to hear any general thoughts you have on market trends...

Hayman-Loa: From what we are seeing, there are a number of trends which actually bode well for Carii. One significant one is a trend towards private controlled communication where you own your own data, rather than the open free environment that is the current social world. Another trend is for more efficient team collaboration, which Carii supports in a number of ways (affiliating with partner communities, content and document sharing across communities, and especially with our multi-channel real time chat). And there is a major trend coming for business networks and ecosystems (written about extensively by Michael Fauscette, Sr. Analyst at IDC) which is the core concept embedded throughout Carii with our affiliation capability linking multiple communities organically in to ecosystems along the ability to easily communicate across linked communities.

What is the viral aspect of your product?

Hayman-Loa: The Basic version of Carii is free and available to use. Once a community is created and members are invited, those members can also create their own communities and invite their own members, so viral growth can occur that way. Also, as we bring on large organizations to the paid subscription version of the platform, they bring with them long lists of members to grow the user base. And their invited members can create their own communities as well.

How will you make money? What's the business model?

Hayman-Loa: Carii supports multiple revenue opportunities. Revenue is generated via PaaS fees (focus), Premium modules, Advertising, Transactions and Servicing. Three product offering levels are: Basic (freemium, transactions, advertising), Pro (subscription fees, transactions, servicing) and Premium (PaaS, custom dev and servicing).

Who are your competitors?

Hayman-Loa: Multiple briefings have been completed with prominent industry analysts at IDC and Gartner. Feedback has been resoundingly positive with comments that "Carii is unique and feature rich versus the competition". Carii's key competitors are in the "Enterprise Community Platform" space: Lithium, Jive, IBM Connections and in the team collaboration space: Slack. With the exception of Slack, these systems are often costly to implement and have limited functionality compared to Carii. Carii's mobile capability is highly robust and far exceeds that of any other competitor - mobile is key to growth in the Asian market.

How do you differentiate from your competitors?

Hayman-Loa: Carii is more comprehensive, easier to implement, more cost effective and with our robust mobile version, more accessible. The platform is powerful for community managers but fun and easy to use for members of many generations. With the introduction of our multi-channel Chat/messaging capability, which links to the data in the main Carii platform and supports Chats with an entire community, Carii now has a competitive response to Slack.

How does your technology differentiate from the competition and can you elaborate on the different technology deployed?

Hayman-Loa: The Carii team is leveraging the most modern and advanced development tools, technologies and methodologies. (If you need more info we can provide it.)

What business or technology could yours disrupt?

Hayman-Loa: Used to its fullest extent, Carii could disrupt a number of technologies - public social, social media management tools, team collaboration tools, community management products. However the focus is really on communication and collaboration within and across communities, anytime, anywhere.

What can you tell me about the story of the company's founding?*

Hayman-Loa: Carii was developed by Founder WunFie Loa and me, Denise Hayman-Loa. Many clever and creative people have helped build out the platform to its current state. In the Founder's travels with various communities around the world, and their roles as senior members of non-profits, they realized that a platform truly designed around community needs and culture was missing from the social interaction world. Privacy, trust and control were key elements that have been maintained and developed in the platform from the beginning. The concept of interlinking communities through affiliation and creating ecosystems was integrated in to the platform from the very beginning. The initial Alpha version was launched in September, 2013. After much market feedback and many UI updates and interim versions, the current updated version of Carii was released in September, 2015.

What is your distribution model? Where to buy your product?

Hayman-Loa: Carii is available online and at the iTunes and GooglePlay stores.

What's next on your product roadmap?

Hayman-Loa: Our next major feature will be the Carii Console - essentially a dashboard for managing multi-community ecosystems efficiently.

Are you targeting a first VC round?

Hayman-Loa: We have been essentially bootstrapped to date and are currently seeking a seed round of $1.5M to build out our sales capabilities for rapid growth.

More Stories By Xenia von Wedel

Xenia von Wedel is a Tech blogger and Enterprise Media Consultant in Silicon Valley and Paris, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. She is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, media outreach and strategy. She mainly writes about Blockchain, Enterprise, B2B solutions, social media and open source software, but throws the occasional oddball into the mix. Tip her if you like her articles: http://xeniar.tip.me

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