Message Mailbox Play 'uReaching' For Telco Deals
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When Krishnamurty Kambhampati ("just call me KK") looks around, he sees a world connected to the hilt by pagers, PDAs, laptops and cell phones. And those are just the tools in the office.
If the uReach CEO has his way, his company's message consolidation service could be the answer to the never-ending communications tangle.
uReach has built an ASP-based service that allows users stay in touch with contacts -- all the time. While the service is aimed at end users, uReach's success as a business hinges entirely on Kambhampati's ability to snag deals with big-name wireless and wireline carriers, CLECs, ISPs and Web portals.
But without a Sprint, MCI or AT&T as a major customer, it's tough to see uReach grabbing a major share of the market, a fact not lost on Kambhampati and his team of 40 New Jersey-based software engineers.
"We are in significant discussions with a couple of the larger carriers. I feel pretty good about landing one of those deals before the end this year," he said, declining to provide specifics.
"Our focus is to sell the services to [telecommunications] carriers, not to end users. Right now, we are using the Web site as a beta test for various types of features and services," Kambhampati explained.
Already, the company has landed a deal with New York-based wireless ASP GiantBear to sell its service to GiantBear's clients. The deal will be announced in coming weeks.
Kambhampati said uReach would host, run and manage the platform for GiantBear on a fee-based, ASP model.
On the uReach Web site, users can sign up for regular voice mail, voice e-mail and fax services with a dedicated 800 number (uReach is using Vo-IP technology to route the calls). What sets uReach apart from competitors like Onebox.com is its ability to forward calls to designated phone numbers.
Instead of giving out multiple phone numbers, users can use a single toll-free number and have the uReach service direct the call to wherever they are.
Additionally, Kambhampati said uReach offers a complete Message Center for users to compose e-mail, send faxes and create and upkeep an address book. uReach's calendar feature allows appointment notification (by phone call, e-mail, ICQ or pager).
To keep its head above water while it negotiates for deals with telcos, ISPs and portals uReach is charging $4.99 per month for its basic messaging service and $6.99 for the premium offerings, which include the popular "find me/follow me" call forwarding feature. Kambhampati says the company is burning through approximately $450,000 per month.
Additionally, the company makes money by selling call time to the 800 numbers given to subscribers. "We have vendor relationships with carriers to provide the phone services and our users can purchase different packages (for air time minutes)."
Kambhampati is not the only believer in the technology. Since its founding in 1998, uReach has raised $25 million from institutional investors, including Banc One Equity, Argo Global Capital, Marquette Ventures, J-Net Ventures, NetStar Ventures and JAIC (Japan).