Telstra and NAB team up to launch a website aimed at getting small businesses to help each other out

Leigh O'Neill (NAB) & Andy Ellis (Telstra) at the Proquo announcement

It will soon be easier for small business owners to connect with other SMEs if an online marketplace funded by Telstra and NAB gets off the ground.

The joint venture – an online platform called Pourquo – will allow small businesses to buy, sell and barter services while building up their networks.

The website will have a particular focus on marketing, accounting, legal, design and technology services, which many small businesses can struggle to find within a suitable price range. 

The joint project, which NAB and Telstra say will be run independently, will draw on the resources of NAB’s innovation hub, NAB labs and Telstra’s Gurrowa Innovation Lab.

It will be spearheaded by chief executives Carl Spurling from NAB and Ricky Lam from Telstra, and will run in pilot mode before a public launch next month.

Pourquo will take a cut of deals done over the website.

While the percentage is not yet finalised, SmartCompany understands it will be about 7-10%.

Peter Strong, from the Council of Small Business of Australia, said he welcomed the announcement.

“It sounds like quite a good thing and I look forward to seeing where it ends up,” Strong says.

Sam Scriven runs Mello Media out of Melbourne and participated in the beta trial.

The small business owner says the platform was very easy to use and he liked the ability to use partial exchanges – which is where a business might offer to do a website in return for a marketing strategy.

“It was more of a community style website,” Scriven says.

He said he had no trouble paying for the site.

“I’ve used other sites before which took cuts of sales. I think it’s unavoidable. Someone’s got to pay to keep the website running.”

Leigh O’Neill, the head of small business at NAB, says the project is aiming to help small businesses help each other scale.

“Small business owners tell us they are continually looking for new ways to do business and we think Proquo will provide them with a unique way to network and grow their business,” O’Neill says.

“Strategic partnerships like this one with Telstra, to combine the capabilities of two of Australia’s biggest companies, creates a really innovative business option for the small business community.”

Andy Ellis, the managing director of Telstra Business, said he hopes the online marketplace helps more small businesses get off the ground.

“Our research shows that the exchanging of services will be a great advantage to many start-ups,” Ellis says.

“We’re excited and proud to partner with NAB to offer this unique digital platform. This joint venture further highlights our commitment to small business so they can run, develop and grow their business.”

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