1. What is iZoca?
Based in New York’s Tech Valley Region, iZoca
is a new social networking website that helps minimize the complexities of scheduling. Often described as Outlook meets Web 2.0, iZoca combines social networks with organizational tools, offering a new and simple way for individuals, groups and organizations to manage projects, plan activities, and stay connected as a forum. In this way, iZoca enables real-world groups to communicate and interact efficiently, even during the times between meetings.
More mainstream social networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, connect individual users to a crowd. In contrast, iZoca's group networking platform organizes that crowd into distinct groups and provides users with features to keep them connected with those groups at all times. With iZoca, individuals can join or create groups of personal interest, including groups focused on work, family, hobbies, school and charitable endeavors. Upon becoming a member of a group, a user can share information as well as plan and discuss events with other members of that group. iZoca members are provided with a personal calendar that displays all of the events for each of the groups to which they belong.
2. How was iZoca created? Can you describe the relationships and collaborative efforts that were involved in bringing the technology to market?
President and CEO Jeff Goronkin conceived of the Web platform during an extended airport layover, and he left his position as Vice President of Life Sciences at EvidentTechnologies to pursue his vision. Driven by his long-time interest in a website architecture capable of encouraging the social engagement of people online, Mr. Goronkin, in 2007, conducted an analysis of the social networking websites that existed at the time in order to determine their commonalities and differences, and he noticed that the existing social networks did not adequately address the way in which humans interact in real-world social environments. Consequently, he developed the concept of the iZoca calendar as a means to keep individuals connected simultaneously to all of the real-world and virtual groups in which they participate, while protecting the privacy of all involved.
After Mr. Goronkin had recruited his first investor, Bob Blackman, he went on to secure the financial backing of many additional angel investors. He then secured a seasoned management team to develop and promote the site, and iZoca was founded in September 2007.
iZoca’s CTO, Mr. Stewart, previously led the development of multiple Web-based software applications and was the technical lead on a number of successful projects. He worked as an independent consultant at Scope Star Software, a technical lead at IA Systems, and was the manager of information systems for the Freihofer Baking Company. Through networking and a series of conversations, Mr. Goronkin recognized that Mr. Stewart’s superior technical abilities and expertise in the Ruby programming language made him well suited to lead the site’s technical development.
3. Would you briefly describe iZoca’s business plan?
iZoca is building a revenue-generating platform uniquely suited for delivering targeted ads to people based upon group affiliations. Additionally, revenues will be generated by offering value-added features for groups, such as increased capacity for document sharing and tools for groups to promote themselves within the iZoca platform.
4. What is the current status of iZoca? In what publicly disclosed research and development efforts has iZoca recently been engaged?
iZoca has been released to the public with an “alpha site” designation. Patents have been filed, and further Web development is underway. It is expected that iZoca will shift to a “beta” designation in the fall.
Currently, hundreds of groups have been formed on iZoca, from non-profit organizations, such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, to small businesses and fitness groups. A key driver for group adoption is the need to schedule activities and share information in a professional way with group members.
5. Who is on the iZoca team?
Jeffrey Goronkin, President/CEO and Chairman of the Board
Scott Stewart, Chief Technology Officer
Susan Bardack, Chief Marketing Officer
Amy Rumenapp, Quality Control and Assurance Analyst
6. How was iZoca named?
The name ‘iZoca’ is derived from the Spanish word zocalo, which is a plaza or square where people can congregate. For months, Mr. Goronkin agonized over possible names for his social networking website. While in college, he had developed a business selling high-end handcrafted lamps and was familiar with a local furniture store called ‘Zocalo’. Brainstorming combinations of words to describe this new concept, he noticed that the word zocalo kept emerging, so he shortened it up and added an “i” for Internet, and that’s how the name ‘iZoca’ was born.