One of the less expected web stock successes of 1999 was built on the insight that cyberspace is the ideal place for ... franchising! VerticalNet (www.verticalnet.com) went public in February at $16 and was trading briskly at $110 by July.
Obviously, some feel that this Pennsylvania start-up has developed the ideal cookie-cutter formula for the creation of countless 'vertical trade communities' online.
Such narrow-gauge communities, according to Forrester Research, will hatch a significant proportion of the estimated $1.3 trillion in business-to-business commerce projected for 2003.
VerticalNet has sought out overlooked business-to-business niches, and has given each of them a mini-portal site containing the same component elements. These include trade news, message boards and storefronts for suppliers. VerticalNet earns revenues from advertising and small transactional fees.
These hermetic crossroads sport names that only their acolytes could ever really love: Solid Waste Online, Food Ingredients Online, Nurses.com and the ever-alluring Meat & Poultry Online. Visit one and you've visited them all.
Sneer if you will, but study their smart, simple format with care. The VerticalNet formula epitomises the essential communication services that will make your own B2B intranet or extranet more robust.