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Startup Profiles: GotVMail

GotVMail Communications was founded in 2002 to offer a virtual telecom service for small businesses, home-based businesses, and mobile professionals. The company has raised capital from founders and angel investors. GotVMail has 20 employees in addition to an outsourced call center, and is growing.

GotVMail believes there is a small business communications void. While large businesses can access a variety of powerful communications solutions, small businesses have few options. Basic telephone equipment offers little functionality. ILEC voicemail is designed for personal use, and lacks business features. Consumer-oriented unified messaging services also fail to deliver the features required for business use. Proprietary telephone systems are expensive and difficult to use. And VoIP solutions focus on low-cost telephony, not features.

To address this opportunity, GotVMail has developed a virtual phone service for small and home-based businesses and on-the-go entrepreneurs that provides big company telephone functionality and sound for as little as $9.95 a month. GotVMail is positioned as an incoming call solution that enhances the image, productivity, and the professionalism of small business in the range of 1 - 10 employees. GotVMail also positions its service as an ideal “front-end” for VoIP services.

GotVMail provides a nationwide toll-free or global local telephone number and a customized and professional-sounding main greeting. Incoming calls can be routed to multiple employee or department mailboxes using a dial-by-name directory, and can be forwarded or transferred to any phone, anywhere. It also provides “one Stop” Web and Email delivery of all voice and fax messages. The system offers an unlimited number of incoming calls so callers never hear a busy signal.

With GotVMail, a small business always sounds its best, gains control over incoming calls, and simplifies the way callers reach them. The system is customizable for 1 to 10 employees, and works with any phone, from anywhere, yet requires no additional equipment or software.

The service has 30+ features and includes toll-free numbers, main greeting system and auto attendant, multiple mailboxes, custom greetings, music-on-hold, live call forwarding, web-based system management, voicemail with notification and messages via phone or e-mail, and other corporate office features. In addition, companies can create the impression of a single office by assigning private extensions to different departments or employees who may be sited in various locations.

Each mailbox can have its own call forwarding number, so “Operator” can forward a call to a cell phone in New York and “Sales” can forward a call to a home office number across the country in Los Angeles. Voicemails and faxes can be e-mailed as MP3 and PDF attachments.

A web-based dashboard provides an overview of new messages and announcements, and allows users to access mailbox folders, faxes, general mailbox settings, call history reports, and a greeting manager. Users can set email, phone and pager notifications, live call forwarding, dial-by-name directory and virtual marketing extensions.

The service was launched in June 2003. In less than two years of operation, GotVMail has acquired 25,000 small business customers and currently has roughly 15,000 customers. The company secured 25% of its new customers from referrals. The company has been profitable since its second month of operation.

Several companies offer small business communications solutions that appear to be similar. GotVMail argues that large telephony providers do not understand the very small business market, often comprised of a sole proprietor running a virtual “after-hours” business. Furthermore, the company argues that it is solely focused on this market with the expertise, capital, infrastructure and commitment necessary to deliver a superior solution unlike its competitors that “dabble” in the market.

The company is increasing its marketing efforts and is forming co-marketing agreements with various companies including Palo Alto Software, a provider of business plan software, and HostedSupport.com, a provider of customer support automation solutions for online businesses.

Siamak Taghaddos, President and CEO (previously founded an online distribution company offering discounted pagers throughout the U.S. and developed business and marketing strategies for College Coach)

David Hauser, CTO (previously co-founded Return Path, an e-mail performance management company)

David Powers, VP of Corporate Communications (previously in marketing and public relations at Level 3 and XCOM)

John Joyce, VP of Business Development (previously held business development and channel management positions with Internap and Akamai)