Achoo is a social network which allows its users to brag about their achievements and build up a profile which will help attract future employers. 

The site was launched by Andrus Purde, and I’ve been asking him about Achoo, its business model, the challenges of launching, and his future plans. 

In one sentence, what is Achoo?

A professional social network where marketers and other professionals can build their network, share their accomplishments and find new opportunities.

What problems does Achoo solve?

The traditional résumé and services built around it, including LinkedIn, have stopped being as effective as they used to be.

Today more than 20% of US workforce are consultants, contractors and freelancers and this figure is similar in the UK. But how do you show on your résumé that during the last two years you’ve worked with seven different projects, as a member of four different teams?

Even for non-freelancers, what matters in networking is what you have achieved and who you have worked with, not fancy job titles and company names. 

Achoo lets you share your bigger and smaller achievements, and show who you’ve worked with. Each achievement, or ‘achoo’ as we call them, can be tagged with people, companies, skills and Quora-like discussions.

And collectively these add up a really useful profile.

When and why did you launch it?

I first started to work on social professional profiles in 2010 after I had quit my marketing job at Skype. Our first attempt failed but helped me better understand the market and needs.

We regrouped as a team and launched a prototype of Achoo in September 2011. Over the following months we made many improvements, and launched publicly about a month ago.

Who is your target audience?

We think Achoo works best for freelancers, consultants and creatives in the marketing and communication field, but the concept makes sense for almost all professionals from entrepreneurs to interior designers. 

What are your immediate goals?

We’ve gotten lots of positive feedback but we’ve also identified many areas where we need to improve the product. One key area is integrations with other networks ie. people should be able to post to their Achoo profile via Twitter, and show it on their blog or LinkedIn profile.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building Achoo?

We’ve seen our fair share of usual startup challenges, I believe.

We’ve had people telling us that LinkedIn owns professional networking and it’s silly to even try to challenge that (which I don’t believe should stop anyone, ever), we’ve had some annoying bugs in the system, communications issues in the team and, like many startups, some days where traffic and user growth seems ridiculously small. 

So far, so good, and though I’m sure there are more challenges in store for us, we seem to have gotten quite good at learning and problem solving. 

How will the company make money?

The site is free to use for all users at the moment. In the future we’ll be adding premium services, for example featured listings and advanced customisation for people with skills, and advanced search and contacting capabilities for recruiters. 

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years?

In a year’s time we will have added all the features and improvements we’re envisioning, and hopefully validated that these were indeed the most important things to our users. So using startup terminology, we’re currently focused on confirming “product-market fit”. 

Scaling the idea and business globally is on our three-year horizon and in five years we’d like to be busy carrying out our wider vision for how professional networking can be better.