Network Buddies Turning Facebook Into 'Facebucks' For Social Network Users

Barclays Business has just launched a competition for UK entrepreneurs with 'brilliant' ideas, titled, "Take One Small Step." Its goal is to surface Britain's best new business innovations whether it's a new start-up or existing business looking to bust out with a new idea. Entrants can win one of 10 prizes worth £50,000, and Network Buddies with its new twist on an old Web 2.0 format has just thrown it's social networking hat in the ring!

Amanda ShepherdAmanda ShepherdSounds like the makings of a TV reality show, with a panel of local expert judges who will shortlist the three best business ideas per region - and a bus that will actually tour business districts in Newcastle and elsewhere handing out information pertaining to the competition. Amanda Shepherd, one of the bank's  business regional directors  said: “Through this competition and the bus we're hoping to give (business entrepreneurs) a boost, but also help nurture great new businesses at the same time."

Mohammed Walji is the founder of the start-up Network Buddies, a new social network in beta development. Its major tenant is contingent on a lucrative reward system where prizes and actual cash rewards will be awarded users for "doing what they love and what they spend hours doing already," says Wolji,

In conducting an interview with Walji today, I asked him about the criteria and qualifiers that Network Buddies will put into place for users to earn rewards. "Every action taken by the user will result in generating points for a user's account," notes Walji. The actionable reward list are extensive and will include, "registration, uploading details, uploading pictures, uploading videos, making wall posts, commenting on pictures, videos and statuses, creating groups, among others."

In turn, accumulated points can then be redeemed for prizes that include, "cash tender," but also "gift vouchers, game consoles, VIP holidays, and even high-priced luxury items, such as cars," notes Walji. Such a reward system can be beneficial for recreational users who are interested in connecting with friends and family online and who are also looking to own the latest gadgets, electronics and home items. Hobby income earners, regular affiliates and even students can gain side income through the reward system for their referrals.

When asked how the model is monetized so users are guaranteed these rewards, Walji is confident that through advertising, sponsorships and partnerships, the network will be able to dedicate 50-80% of the proceeds to go toward the rewards.

As far as future goals, Wolji estimates that after 6 months of launch, the network will scale quickly to 1 million members and will subsequently grow virally after that. The Web site is currently under development and should be functional in a couple of weeks. No word if the beta will be open to all or by invitation.

Network Buddies is seeking 4,000+ votes to make its concept a reality by being the first social network to offer rewards. If you think this is a good idea, you can vote here, by "backing" the idea. At the time of this post, there were 553 'backers' that were so inclined. Take a moment and register here, and also share with your friends and followers - and leave us a comment below if you think this idea has merit?

"If you enjoy playing around on sites like Facebook in your spare time, then you should be rewarded for the constant support you're giving to that site," says Wolji.

It's definitely an idea 'with legs.' Whether its been fleshed out enough to really know if it will work in such a way where the founders, backers and users can all make money, time will tell. However Wolji was confident that if he didn't win the Barclay's competition, he will still be launching his network within the next couple of years. However, with the early added infusion of the Barclay's winnings, his goal would be launch a fully functional Network Buddies by January 1, 2011.

Sounds like Network Buddies has a shot at that pot of gold at the end of that social networking rainbow … and so does its users!