news A joint venture between NAB and Telstra will see the launch of a new digital marketplace startup called Proquo, aimed to help small businesses develop and grow.
The new platform will enable small businesses across Australia to network, trade or swap services via a single web-based platform using cloud technology. PCs, tablets and mobile devices can all be used to access the service.
Developed by NAB’s innovation hub, NAB Labs and Telstra’s Gurrowa Innovation Lab, Proquo is aimed at small and micro businesses who either can offer, or are in need of, marketing, accounting, legal, design or technology services.
While a 50:50 joint venture between the two companies, Proquo will operate as an independent entity.
While getting established, the new entity will be led by co-CEOs Carl Spurling (NAB) and Ricky Lam (Telstra), with the board being comprised of senior executives from both firms.
“Small business is the backbone of the Australian economy; around 97% of all Australian businesses are small businesses and they provide a huge economic contribution to Australia’s current and future prosperity,” said Leigh O’Neill, Proquo board member and NAB’s Executive General Manager Micro and Small Business.
“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,” she said.
The startup said its name was created from the phrase quid pro quo (literally “this for that”) to emphasise the novel service exchange offering of the startup.
According to Proquo, there are five stages for a company to go through to acquire a service: 1) write a brief, 2) write a quote, 3) agree outcomes and commence work, 4) complete and pay, and 5) Rate and review.
Andy Ellis, Group Managing Director Telstra Business and also a Proquo board member, said Telstra already supports over a million businesses across Australia with technology solutions. Proquo, he said, will offer them a “new and innovative way” to network and help grow their business.
“Small businesses often struggle to get off the ground and our research shows that the exchanging of services will be a great advantage to many start-ups,” Ellis said.
O’Neill concluded: “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.”
Proquo will enter a pilot phase this month, with a full launch planned in July.
Image credit: Telstra