This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
Ma Bell should be proud. After decades of complete or near monopolist market conditions, and years more of closed development environments, change has arrived. Entrepreneurship is indeed alive and well in telecom.
To be fair, entrepreneurship is raging across all technology sectors. It’s altogether the new cool. The same university graduates that once knocked on Fortune 500 company doors in search of trainee jobs are now launching companies of their own. And, unlike earlier times, this phenomenon is not relegated to the Bay Area. New York, Boulder, Austin, Montreal and many other cities around the globe have become hotbeds for startups. The reasons behind this trend are clear:
· Starting a business, especially a technology one, has never been so cheap, thanks to open source software, API access and, of course, cloud computing.
· A new community of micro-investors has emerged, aptly named as super-angels, who defy traditional VC processes by making smaller investment decisions ($25,000-$500,000). Decisions come quickly, often in less than a month, if not a week.
· When jobs are scarce, creating your own can be quite inviting.
Today’s communications entrepreneur is exploiting voice, SMS, and video in ways we could not have imagined one short decade ago. Falling transport costs, maturing IP networks and, of course, the pervasive cloud have allowed for unbounded creativity and with it new applications that drive collaboration and productivity for all.
StartupCamp Communications, an event founded in late 2009 by Embrase Business Consulting to expose and foster early stage innovation in the communications sector, is headed for its third installment the evening of Feb. 3 in conjunction with TMC’s (News - Alert) ITEXPO in Miami.The first two events uncovered a host of exciting young companies. Here’s how a few of them are doing:
Fonolo: This Canadian company is fighting its way into the hearts of consumers unhappy with the large company call center experience. The company’s cloud-based virtual queuing and deep-dialing platform makes it easy for enterprises to delight their callers by eliminating the on-hold experience and flattening out complex IVRs. With several large enterprise customers under its belt – including one of Canada’s largest banks – Fonolo (News - Alert) is well under way.
GroupMe: This group texting company was founded in the spring – over a weekend – by hacking out an application on event sponsor Twilio’s (News - Alert) platform. Since then, explosive growth has taken the company through two funding rounds, including one for $9 million in November. Not yet past its first birthday, the company makes it dead simple for people to create groups for texting with plans for plenty more.
If the funnel of applications for the October edition of StartupCamp, held in L.A. at ITEXPO (News - Alert) was any indication – we had almost 40 companies vying for a pitch spot – Miami promises to be the best one yet. Startups, industry leaders, investors and the media will converge for an evening to see what’s next. Hopefully you will be there too.
Larry Lisser (News - Alert) is principal of Embrase Business Consulting
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi