Zerply, a simple professional network that focuses on your experience and talent, was founded by Taaniel and Christofer. The two friends felt the lack of connection between different groups of people and knowledge of where to find them. They themselves describe Zerply as LinkedIn for the creative class. Because LinkedIn is very suit and tie, many people feel that they don’t fit in. May it be designers, developers, architects or other originative people. For the founders, who had worked within the web over 10-12 years, the idea itself celebrates its third birthday this month, but it took about six months to actually get actively working on it and another six to form it into a prototype.
“There are good services for different verticals but nothing is connecting them. If you're not in that industry you tend to not know these industry specific services like Behance, Dribbble, GitHub, etc. The need for building something connective is what started to drive us. Another thing was the amount of talented friends we had around us who were mostly unknown. We wanted to build a place where we could share all of this with the world. We felt that we needed to make a change by getting them out there and connected,” explained Taaniel the story behind Zerply.
Zerply boys didn’t waste any time after they got their prototype up and running. They packed their bags and moved straight to Silicon Valley. “We spent about a year there networking and raising money but it was tough. Most doors were closed," Taaniel recalls, stating that as a new start-upper it is never easy to get one foot in and it takes some courage and years of networking to actually find the right people. "In the beginning we were silly enough to think that as we already had a beta product launched we were too far ahead for an acceleration program. But soon we realized that that was not the case and we ended up joining 500 Startups, being part of their first summer batch. This was great for opening the doors to Silicon Valley. After joining them we had no problems connecting with people from Facebook, Google or any other company there. Besides that the massive 500 Startups network helped us a great deal to raise our seed round,” says Taaniel.
Zerply closed their seed round just few months ago and their memories from raising money are still fresh. “It's very tough!” he recalls. “The percentage of startups that actually get funded is so small and it’s also important to get the right investors - those who are actually creating added value.” Not only finding funders can be tough but also launching a product itself can feel like mission impossible some days. “When we started, we didn’t have any knowledge about the startup world. We just knew that we wanted to build something. We didn't know anyone in Estonia or in Sweden and I didn't even know about TechCrunch. It took us a lot of time to just get into the scene and to overcome the challenges. But through it all we learned a lot,” reminded Taaniel how they got started.
Taaniel wants all the new startup founders to understand how tough it is going to be. "Not to scare them away but so that they would expect it, because it goes very up and down. Some days it's very down and it seems that everything is ruined, but the next morning you wake up and do it all over again. This is what it's all about - keep on building your vision!”
Zerply team consists of six members divided by offices across the Atlantic. Working in Garage48 HUB are Taaniel Jakobs, Mihhail Kööts and Josef Minarik. Justin Style is working in Sweden and Christofer Kaltrop with his wife Eliza are running the San Francisco branch.