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Central New Yorker starts social network for small businesses

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Tom Magnarelli/WRVO
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Glen Zinszer and Charlene Barkley work in the Brazzlebox office in downtown Syracuse.

A new website aimed at creating a social network for small businesses recently launched in Syracuse. The goal is for businesses to help each other by sharing information and resources. 

Pam Tuohey of Cicero just bought a food trailer to sell hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken riggies. But she's been having difficulties getting the trailer insured and finding parking lot locations to set up shop.

"Those type of things, I'd have a hard time just finding, researching on the internet," said Tuohey.

She signed up for Brazzlebox, a social network dedicated solely to small businesses. The founder, Glen Zinszer, has owned several small businesses in central New York for the past 15 years -- ranging from insurance claims processing to selling Halloween decorations. One day, a nearby business owner walked into one of Zinszer's store and introduced himself.

“That sort of camaraderie, that sort of sense of community felt fantastic,” said Zinszer.

So, he wanted to take that experience and put it online so business owners could help each other.

“You might be a fantastic landscaper, but 60 percent of your business is administrative. We’ve seen business bartering where folks are trying to connect businesses quickly to the information or resources that they need.”

Information such as warnings about a customer who bounced a check, or insurance recommendations. Zinszer says he's even seen competitors coming together.

“If you have five pizza shops in a plaza, you don’t want four closed and one open.You want all five open, you want to call that thing Pizza Row, you want everyone going in there, then those five pizza shops can probably get discounts on the things they use,” said Zinszer.

The Brazzlebox network is free to join and Zinszer says the company plans on making money by offering a premium service and partnering with companies such as UPS and World Wide Express who are interested in the target audience of small business owners around the country. More than 50,000 members have already signed up for Brazzlebox.