Undertaking the development of a social network with a small team should not be understated, this has taken a while and it's still only in Beta, however we are proud to announce the launch of Scotland's first Diaspora network KILTR. It's intention is to unite the 10 million Scots and affinity Scots worldwide within a new type of Social network aimed at utilising the warmth, knowledge and good nature of Scots & affinity Scots worldwide for the collective good of the nation.
KILTR also seeks to explore some of the inherant flaws that have emerged over the past few years within most of the major Social networks, they have become far, far to noisy, full of commercialisms and easy tasks like simply adding stuff takes ages. They are in real danger of becoming over engineered and unnecessarily heavy. KILTR seeks to challenge these problems by simplifying functions and providing a neat, clean and easy to use interface.
The 'Concertina' is key, as a navigational device throughout the site allowing pages with a large quantity of content to be organised into bite size chunks of info, letting the end user see, only what's needed in the context of the function they are performing at the time.
Creating posts and adding attachments is easy, a user can attach many pieces of media to a single post, be it documents, video, audio or a gallery full of images. The context of the post can also be shared be it a thought, an update, a question, a job post or an event, all from the post box.
The recipients can also be tailored extensively be it a group, an organisation, selected individuals and privacy is maintained through the use of private and public visibility throughout.
This method of sharing information give huge possibilities within a few clicks, unseen on other networks.
There is still a lot to roll out during the next few months and i'd encourage you to sign up and trial the Beta, let us know what you think, any issues you encounter and any feedback you have so that Everyone and the rest of the KILTR team can help make it better!Share
Social network membership will exceed one billion this year and a Scottish start-up aims to stand-out from the crowd.
— As seen on Holyrood Magazine
Reid Hoffman, the former PayPal executive, founder of the professional networking site LinkedIn and investor in some of the Web’s most successful start-up companies, believes that one of the most important things a site can do is “separate signal from noise”.
When Hoffman was thinking about LinkedIn, he focused on the idea that every working person will have some kind of profile on the Web: “And who knows what may find me? If I’m looking for a job, a job may find me. If I’m looking for an investment, an investment may find me. If I’m an expert on something, a consultancy may find me,” he said in a talk to Stanford University in 2007.
“The other idea is: what is the key that separates signal from noise? How do you sort between people who are crazy, people who are well-meaning but you don’t want to talk to and people who you would invest in? People have assets they can deploy and one of these is personal referral. If someone I trust says, ‘Pay attention to this person’, then I pay attention. So LinkedIn is a profile and a network of trust for reaching and filtering people, with applications built on top.
“It is version two of the resume, if version one was a list of assertions on a printed Word document. In version two, you can have your resume network validated. In that environment, it is easy to check people out. Not only that, people can check out the person who is trying to hire them. Working life is heading to entrepreneurship; you are a small business and your brand is what you can do. The skills of entrepreneurship are applicable to any career path.” Since Hoffman’s talk, LinkedIn has emerged from the shadow of other social networks (albeit, its membership is still a fraction of Facebook’s) to potentially become one of the next wave of publicly offered companies. It now has more than 1,000 employees and has grown to 90 million users in more than 200 countries.
The company has hired banks to advise on an initial public offering (IPO).
An IPO would follow a $500m investment in Facebook, the most popular social network, by Goldman Sachs and Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies. Their stake valued Facebook at $50bn. LinkedIn would be the first major US socialnetworking website to do an IPO, giving it funds to take on its larger rivals in the industry. “What the Goldman investment underlined is that there is a huge window of opportunity for other social networkers to make it to the market,” said Josef Schuster, the Chicago-based founder of IPOX Capital Management.
Into this market comes a Scottish startup, KILTR, described as “the first social network for the 40m Scots worldwide”.
It is the brainchild of Scots businessmen Brian Hughes Halferty and Stewart Fraser and aims to bring together business professionals of Scottish descent around the world. There are seven times as many people of Scots descent around the world than actually live in Scotland and there are many more with an affection for the country, it asserts. Its founders say KILTR will tap into “the vast knowledge, experience and opportunity offered by the Scottish diaspora.” The founders who met at university in 1992, are both passionate Scotsmen who are focused on harnessing the power of social-networking technology to help shape Scotland’s future international success. They assert an “unparalleled commitment to build a world-class product, and just as importantly, a great Scottish company.” They describe the site as a next-generation business social networking and media platform.
It leverages Scotland’s unique cultural heritage and entrepreneurial spirit to assist professionals, entrepreneurs, companies, organisations, clubs and societies, who are Scottish or have an affinity to Scotland, to accelerate their success across the globe.
Hughes Halferty hatched the idea for the network during a trip to the United States. As soon as he began speaking with a Scottish accent, he noticed how many people claimed a connection with Scotland, whether through direct heritage or simply a love of the culture. That connection gave them an immediate bond.
“Diaspora networks bringing together groups of expatriates devoted to their culture and heritage are incredibly powerful for fostering business growth,” he said. “With KILTR, we can provide a one-stop resource for the tens of millions of people of Scottish descent around the world, and gives Scots the basis to form connections and business relationships across borders.” The company says that unlike other social networks, where people may find themselves connected to strangers with no common interests, KILTR uses a built-in search and recommendation engine that pushes relevant opportunities to the users.
The site is focused on delivering valuable business and networking opportunities to members whilst sharing information, links and important connections to support individuals and businesses worldwide.
KILTR aims to establish itself as the professional networking service of choice for Scots and ‘affinity Scots’. The company has recently closed a Series A round of financing with Par Equity of Edinburgh as the lead investor allowing the company’s evolution from prototype to public beta launch. Subsequent follow-on investment is expected with a worldwide launch planned later this year. The unique aspect of KILTR is that professionals, entrepreneurs, companies, organisations, clubs and societies can immediately start networking with others who have a known shared connection or affinity for Scotland.
“One of KILTR’s advantages is its clean, uncluttered interface,” adds Hughes Halferty. “We use a concertina navigational device across the site, which allows pages with large quantities of content to be organised into bite-sized chunks of information. Users only see what they need to see, in the context of the function they’re performing, reducing a lot of the noise common with social media sites.” The interface also uniquely supports complex functions such as contextual posts, attachments in conversation replies, embedded multimedia and links, and tagging of post types for a specific user, group or organisation, leading the way in social media innovation. “We have created a platform that allows everybody, from tech-savvy professionals to novices, to immediately jump in and begin opening doors to business opportunities,” says Fraser.
Entrepreneur Christian Arno, who founded the international translation company Lingo24.com, welcomed KILTR’s entry: “It’s great to see any British start-up using the internet to blaze a trail across the globe. And given that my company was launched in Scotland, it’s particularly great to see a Scottish startup doing something a little different on the Web.” Mark MacLeod, a partner at Real Ventures, Canada’s largest seed investor, added: “As a proud Scotsman, I’d love to connect and do business with people from the homeland.” But he added: “Generally speaking, people have ten websites or services that they use regularly. So, if your company wants to hit it big time, you need to displace an app, service or media company that is currently in people’s top ten lists. That, of course, is no small feat.” It is estimated that the membership of social networks could exceed one billion this year; KILTR is hoping that its distinctive voice will be heard above the noise of the crowd.
The future of friends: Who can topple Facebook?
By Rory Cellan-Jones
— As seen on BBC
Facebook has won the social networking wars, right? The likes of MySpace, Bebo and Friends Reunited have fallen by the wayside as Mark Zuckerberg's friend machine trundles onwards, to complete its mission of world domination. Or maybe the story isn't over, and someone else will come along to show us a better way of networking?
In the final episode of The Secret History of Social Networking on Radio 4, we look at where this phenomenon is heading next - and whether Facebook will continue to rule the roost. We hear from a clutch of new networks, with different ideas of how we will live our online lives in the future.For Foursquare, it's a vision of life as a kind of boy scouts' game, on the move sharing your location with friends and collecting points, badges and mayorships along the way. But can they make even a dent in Facebook's appeal, when their ideas have already been copied by the much bigger network?
Path, the San Francisco network founded by a former Facebook executive, believes we all want to share more of our lives, in the form of photos and video clips, with a far more restricted collection of friends. Its idea is a smartphone app where you record key moments for your nearest and dearest, rather than telling all to the world. But, despite managing to attract quite staggering sums from investors, the start-up seems to be making little progress in winning users over to its concept.
And then there's Kiltr, a social network which believes the future of friendship is local. Kiltr is aimed at Scots and the Scottish diaspora around the world. Its founder Brian Hughes Halferty says giant networks like Facebook don't suit everybody: "There's a lot of noise in the bigger networks," he explained. "And what we'll see happening is the user base of these networks gradually splitting off into more fragmented networks, based on specific interests, and potentially shared values, even a localised, regionalised approach."
And Kiltr isn't too fussy about whether you're actually Scottish - I've joined with no credentials whatsoever.There's no reason why local and specialised networks should not prosper in the shadow of Facebook, though they may struggle to put much of dent in the audience of a site which has shown, from Egypt to East Finchley, that it can be all things to all people. A bigger threat may be mounting concerns about security and privacy. A number of rival networks are being set up with the explicit promise that they will give users more control over their data and their privacy than is on offer from Facebook.
Diaspora attracted plenty of interest when it announced its plans last June in the middle of a row over Facebook's latest privacy settings. Its founders quickly raised a sizeable sum from online well-wishers, with their plan to give people more control over who sees any aspect of their online activity. Nothing much seems to have happened since, and Diasora looks like it might struggle to find enough people who really care about this issue. But one of the founders Daniel Grippi insists the idea still has widespread appeal amidst concerns about Facebook: "Even non-technical people understand that this is a problem, and that something has to be done about it in the short term. Owning your own data is a huge selling point and a natural step forward."
And others are even more strident in their view that Facebook has taken web users in the wrong direction. Johan Stael von Holstein whose MyCube network allows anyone to keep a safe copy of all the data they have put on a social network, says parents in particular need to be aware of the dangers of Facebook's social graph: "Their kids will never have to go to an interview again because they'll just be recruited on the social graph that Facebook holds for them, that they're selling to companies... this is a nightmare that George Orwell would be jealous of."
Facebook's sheer scale is now putting it in the firing-line - from cybercriminals who see it as a great place to launch an attack, from parents worried that it is not doing enough to protect children from stalkers and cyber-bullies, from neuroscientists concerned about what it is doing to our brains and our concepts of friendship.
The network does seem aware of these threats to its reputation. Yesterday a senior member of its privacy team spent an hour briefing journalists about all the ways Facebook is trying to make sure its users can lead happy networking lives, free from the attention of stalkers, spammers, bullies and bugs. But when I asked whether the emergence of rivals like Diaspora had focused minds, he replied "I don't know much about it to be honest," and asked me to explain what it was about. He, like just about everyone I've met from Mark Zuckerberg's empire, seemed supremely disinterested in what was going on elsewhere in the networking world, focusing entirely on what is going on inside the business.
And, for now at least, that seems a perfectly sensible approach. By my reckoning, more than a quarter of the world's two billion internet users are now on Facebook, and traffic to the site keeps growing. By one measure it has now overtaken Google. With that many friends, no wonder nobody at Facebook is losing sleep over the threat from rivals.
As featured in the Herald.
Online for Success. Stewart Fraser, left, and Brian Hughes started KILTR, a professional social networking site for Scots and Scottish businesses. Picture: Colin Templeton.
With social networking generating a frenzy of interest among users of the internet, entrepreneurs around the world are trying to figure out how to make money from the phenomenon.
In this week’s SME Focus we hear two technology specialists explain why they are adopting a Scottish approach to addressing a global challenge.
Name: Brian Hughes and Stewart Fraser
Age: Brian 37, Stewart 40
What is your business called?
Where is it based?
What service does it offer?
KILTR is a professional social networking service for Scots, affinity Scots, and business owners across the globe looking to tap into the Scottish market and develop relationships with organisations operating in Scotland.
To whom does it sell?
The site does not explicitly sell anything yet, but encourages business communities in Scotland and beyond to engage with one another and develop working relationships. The membership base consists largely of senior business representatives. Since launching last year, the site has attracted commercial interest with JetLogic coming on board as sponsors and BAA Glasgow supporting the site through a joint marketing initiative.
What is its turnover?
We are in beta testing (the last stage of testing before a computer product is launched on the commercial market) having just secured funding from Par Equity, Barwell, and the Scottish Investment Bank.
The full version of the site will be launching next year with a view to monetising through sponsorship, events and recruitment tools. To date, KILTR has received almost £1 million funding.
How many employees?
12 on both a full-time and part- time basis.
When was it formed?
The name was established in September 2007 and we launched the first phase of beta testing in August last year.
Why did you take the plunge?
We have always had an interest in the technology industry and we identified a gap in the market for a niche networking site designed for Scots at home and abroad. The Scottish identity is something of a global phenomenon; no matter where you go in the world, you will meet someone who has an affinity with the country. With almost seven times as many people with Scottish heritage living outside of Scotland as there are living in Scotland, we saw an opportunity to engage with this informal network on a business level and harness the power of social networking technology to support the growth of Scottish business, on an international scale.
While working for Hi-Tech Scotland magazine, I got to know Paul Atkinson, owner of Par Equity, and mentioned the idea of KILTR – a niche networking site for Scots.
Paul was really interested and encouraged Stewart and I to present the concept and business plan to a panel of investors. Par Equity quickly got behind the idea and the investment process was finalised in just three months.
In the meantime, we had built a holding page for the site and were receiving multiple emails on a daily basis from people interested in the concept and keen to find out more. With the funding in place, things really took off.
The timing was perfect for both of us as Hi-Tech Scotland, the magazine I was employed with, was being wrapped up while Stewart, a contract software developer, was nearing the end of a project.
Everything just fell into place around that time and, before we knew it, an idea that had started with a conversation between Stewart and I had grown into a real business.
We have spent every waking minute since working to develop the site and establish KILTR as an important player in the social media market.
What were you doing before you took the plunge?
We met at university – we had both opted to study physics and chemistry at Glasgow Caledonian. After our first year Stewart moved on to continue his degree at Strathclyde University and I decided to do a bit of travelling.
I spent six months living in Greece before returning to Glasgow to study marketing and communications.
I then spent some time studying business in America before moving back to Scotland where I did a master’s in Enterprise and Business Growth at Glasgow University Business School.
Soon after I became co-publisher at Hi-Tech Scotland magazine, which was for several years Scotland’s leading business technology publication. I published Hi-Tech Scotland between 2005 and 2009. It did well for a niche title, securing advertising from global players like Microsoft and Oracle, but when the recession hit hard and print advertising budgets started to dwindle, it became clear that it was time to get out of the magazine game.
After earning his honours degree in Applied Physics from Strathclyde University, Stewart worked as an electro-optic defence systems engineer, an analyst at a major Scottish bank and then spent over 10 years as a contract programmer, designing and developing software systems for various public and private sector organisations.
We always kept in touch and shared a keen interest in technology – forever toying with new on-line business ideas.
The idea for KILTR was one that stuck with us and with new developments in Web 2.0 and the increasing popularity of social media in business, the concept really began to take shape.
What was your biggest break?
Securing seed funding from Par Equity and the Scottish Investment Bank, and Barwell who came on board at the public beta launch last August.
This further boosted our confidence in the product and turned KILTR the idea into KILTR the business.
What was your worst moment?
As with many things, the worst moment was closely tied to the best. Finance had been secured and all the legal documents had been signed based on a launch on to public beta last August.
We had to spend a solid 72 hours working in the office to get the site ready for launch.
It was definitely one of the most challenging experiences either of us has ever had, but it felt great when we succeeded in launching the site on time.
What do you most enjoy about running the business?
Creating something different and seeing our ideas come to fruition.
KILTR is still in its infancy and, as with all growing businesses, every day brings a new challenge. The stressful, crazy days are often the most enjoyable – weirdly.
What do you least enjoy?
At the moment we have little time to think about anything else – we currently eat, sleep and breathe KILTR.
What are your ambitions for the firm?
We want KILTR to become the leading business networking platform for Scots and affinity Scots across the globe.
In addition, because we’ve built our own proprietary technology from scratch, there’s no reason why our technology can’t be licensed to others to create their own niche online network.
What are your top priorities?
At the moment, it’s noses to the grindstone to enhance the functionality on the site and get it in shape for the full launch at the beginning of next year.
We are also exploring a range of options for monetising the site which is going to be a key priority following the full launch. Above all, a desire to grow the network over the next 12 months.
What could the Westminster Government and/or Scottish Government do that would most help?
Scotland would benefit from an initiative similar to that of the Y Combinator model in the United States.
Y Combinator is a business accelerator programme which, twice a year, injects funding into a large number of promising start-up companies.
The companies are then relocated to Silicon Valley where they are fine-tuned and coached to get them in the best possible shape for a major investor pitch.
While there is Government support available to start-ups, it can be difficult for very small “seedlings” to navigate through the red tape.
A Government-backed business accelerator programme which actively supports very early stage start-ups would bring huge benefit to the Scottish market and help young firms secure backing from major investors further down the line.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned?
Never second guess yourself; trust your instincts because they’re usually right.
How do you relax?
Brian: I enjoy mountain biking and go snowboarding in the French Alps whenever I get the chance. Stewart is a bit of a master on the decks and can usually be found DJing in his spare time.
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