Fone.Do Drops a Switchboard into Your Pocket!

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We do business with companies that we feel comfortable with. We feel comfortable with businesses that we feel are professional.

25M small  businesses in the USA alone face the same challenge to prove that they are professional. However answering calls on your private mobile phone can be awkward at the best, or even totally embarrassing at the worst.  Many small business people like Jane (pictured above) carry two phones in their pocket. One for her personal life and one for her business.

When we designed Fone.Do we did not realize the size  of this issue, since we targeted mostly the small office. Luckily, companies that sell mobile service to small businesses contacted us, since they realized that we have the solution built in. For them it is a no-brainer. Without Fone.Do they have no advantage (besides price) over the next guy.  But with Fone.Do on the phone, they are now providing businesses with mobile phones that have two lines installed. One the phone line that the mobile comes with and the customer can use as his personal phone number. The second one is  separate business line including a Virtual Receptionist, Call Recording and Smart Voicemail. All this can be setup by anyone in only 2 minutes! A whole Business Switchboard in your pocket!

When a call  comes in the caller first hears the Virtual Receptionist saying “Hi, you have reached the offices of NewCo Inc. for support press one, for sales press two etc”. You see right away if it is on your business line or private line and can decide if to answer. With the option to record calls, there is no need to stop and write down details. You can listen to the call later.

With many other features, Fone.Do is the perfect way to present that professional facade that we all need while never missing an important call! No wonder we have a reseller who is giving away the Fone.Do app for free to all businesses that buy his cellular service. Try it out yourself for free at fone.do 

Start today with your own professional switchboard in your pocket.

This Dream Took Only 30 years To Actually Come True

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We all have dreams, sometimes they just take a long time to come true. This dream of mine took 30 years.

Back in the mid-80s I was a young guy in Israel looking to get into business. The personal computer business was at a boil. Supply could not keep up with demand and after doing some research, I figured out that if I imported Citizen printers, the 120D to be exact, I could make some good money.

However since Citizen had an distributor already in Israel, I went looking for someone in the US, who could buy containers of printers and ship them to me in Israel. A friend gave me a lead to Mike in NY.

There was no real email at the time, remember this was 1985, so I called NY.

“You have reached PC Computers Inc for Sales press 1, for support press 2, for accounts rcv press 3, accounts payable 4, for HR press 5…” and it kept on going on and on, I think there were 10 options!

Finally I got Mike on the phone and we setup to meet in NY. Walking into his office, I was surprised to see that it consisted of 2 rooms. Mike I said, where are all the people? Sales, HR, accounting etc…

Oh, Mike answered, it is just me and PJ here.

Wow, I thought to myself, this is MAGIC! Transforming 2 people into 10! Unbelievable.

Remember! This was before Voice over IP. We are talking 1985.

Sometime later, I was in a computer store in Jerusalem, browsing magazines. A magazine called Computer Telephony looked interesting and I took it home. In it was an editorial by a man named Harry Newton, whom I am sure many of you remember (Harry is still live and kicking in NY BTW). In it Harry writes that the reason he likes Telecom is that it is the only business that you can sell the same product, a telephone minute, for 4 cents and for $4.00

I remember the excitement I felt when I read those words. Here was a product was essentially worthless on its own, all the value was dependent on the packaging. There is endless room here for creativity, I thought. The more creative we are, the more value we can generate.

Well, I knew then, that one day I would get into the phone business and put my creativity to work. It took only 18 years to a finally got around to it.

Fast forward to 2003, and I was looking to start a new business, and my friend David Schlacht of then NDS and later of DirecTV, told me that Voice over IP, was the next thing commercially.

My first step was to become a reseller of Net2phone’s Voiceline product. Voiceline was similar to Vonage — a box that basically replaced your copper phone line dial tone with a IP based dial tone that you could take anywhere. So I spent the next 2 years selling these boxes mostly to expats in Israel and USA.

Compared to what we have today, it wasn’t much, but you could actually sit in Israel and act as you were in NY, for example. Today I am convinced that these little boxes actually facilitated the immigration of many families to Israel, since their US phone number enabled them to continue their previous work remotely.

Pretty soon, I was disappointed with the functionality, after all this is IP technology and there is so much more you can do. As my imagination went to work, I started submitting ideas to Net2phone management, how to improve the product. Net2phone was very attentive to my ideas, but alas, execution was a different story. For example, when I suggested a softphone, they promised it by August. But it turned out that they did not commit to a specific year…

I knew that we could do much more!

The next step in realising my dream was The Flat Planet Phone Company. At Flat Planet our goal was to implement all the ideas that Net2phone would not implement. We provided a platform so a reseller could easily setup his own “phone company” and cherry pick ready made services to resell such as Hosted PBX, calling cards, conference calls, call center queues etc.

Good, but still not Great.

Over the years Flat Planet grew into a very nice profitable business. But I wasn’t happy. 2 years ago, I looked back and realised that almost 10 years have passed and we together with other hosted pbx providers are selling the same product from 2006. In the same time the internet has changed tremendously.

How many of you needed training or technical support to use Facebook? Gmail? Or your banking? You probably didn’t. But to setup a telephone system for your business — is complicated and involves technical knowledge with onsite or remote support.

Both are based on IP technology, so why are telephone systems so complicated to use?

I knew that we could do much more!

The advances in web development technology together with the technology that I think is a real gamechanger — WebRTC — meant that we could now do real magic!

Fone.Do was formed with 3 objectives.

  1. Ease of Use. If you can use Facebook and Gmail — you should be able to setup a full business phone system in 2–3 minutes. Most of the existing services compete on features. Company A has 40 features. Company B has 50, so lets do 60 features. We decided to take the 20% of features that 80% actually use and only implement them. Make it easy for both users and providers
  2. Open Cloud. We believe a cloud isnt a cloud just because you are in a remote data center. There is so much information out there in the cloud. When you receive a call you should get rich information about the caller, social media, local news and proprietary info such as crm. You should be able to also route calls based on that info. So maybe if someone calls with 500k twitter followers like Jeff, you will give his call priority, or if a call comes in from Buffalo where there is a storm at the same time that a call comes in from Miami where it is 80 degrees and sunny, the call from Buffalo will get priority.
  3. Mobility. The system based on WebRTC should work in a browser, on your mobile or with your deskphone with similar ease.

At Fone.Do we hired web developers and not telecom engineers. We all know how long it takes to develop and deploy commercially a feature in the telecom world. Since our developers didn’t know anything about SIP and VoIP, they worked like you do with a web app. Their motto — Just do it!

I know there are pundits who believe that WebRTC is just a passing trend… But I believe that telecom has changed.

There is no more “Telecom Network”. Now that we are in the IP world, your Network is a strong as your APIs. Companies like Twillio, Tropo and Nexmo are successful because they are understand this. WebRTC is a gamechanger. Jeff said many years ago “voice is just another app”, With WebRTC it truly is!

Thirty years have passed but we truly can now be creative.

HTML5 and APIs are all you need!

So what did we do at Fone.Do? Here is a short overview of the functionality…

Here is the link to the actual slides of the prensentation that I gave at MoNage Fall 2016 in Boston.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1GmKA5TICeNImHk6mQJwfF5GB

Is Google entering the Business Phone Market?

 

Chromebook as a Smartphone

Without anyone noticing, Google is entering the Business Phone Market. How is this happening and what does it have to do with Fone.Do?

To understand better lets take a quick look at the history of Google’s effort in the phone market. Over the years they  have been targeted mostly at consumers. On the service side, we have seen Google Voice, Google Talk & Google Hangouts. On the device side, we have seen Google’s Nexus phone product line and the short-lived purchase of Motorola Mobility. But we have not yet, seen a foray into the business market.

While Google has been sitting on the sidelines, Microsoft has been working hard building Lync (now renamed Skype for Business) as a communications solution for businesses, large and small. MSFT and GOOG are competing head on with  Office 365 and Google Apps, the latter is lacking a phone component.

Many of you probably heard of the Google Chromebook. For those of you who haven’t – the Chromebook is a low cost notebook based on the Google Chrome operating system where everything runs in the “Cloud”/Browser.  A Chromebook is extremely convenient to use, boots up super-fast and gives you access to all online services. And best of all you can buy them from only $120!

Drum Roll…. This is where Fone.Do enters.

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Add Fone.Do to a Chromebook and you have a sophisticated IP Deskphone. All you need to do is go to Fone.Do on your browser. Not only can you make directly from the Chromebook “HD Quality” calls with the WebRTC that is built into the Chrome browser, you can also record calls, listen to them, conference in your colleagues and much more. Why buy an expensive Polycom phone, if for less you get a notebook and a phone!

That is why I was not surprised when we approached by one of the biggest networking companies in the world who were interested in bundling Fone.Do with Chromebooks on a project that are working on. The options here are endless. If you find this exciting – drop me a note at Moshe at fone.do and we can discuss the future!

 

 

Google SuperSizes CallerID

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Not many noticed. But, Google just SuperSized  our CallerID!

Who doesn’t like CallerID? With it you know who is calling and you can decide whether to accept the call.

It wasn’t always like that. When Alexander Bell made his first phone call, did Watson know who was calling until Bell told him? Probably not. However that changed pretty fast and before we knew it phone networks were all over the place. At that time “CallerID” was the operator calling and saying “Operator calling, I have a call for Mr. Robinson, from Mr. James”.

Then  Direct Dial was introduced and we had to guess again who has calling, until CallerID  & CNAM as we know it today was introduced. With CNAM (CallerID Name) not only do we know what number is calling us, we also know the name of the caller. CNAM is such a big part of our telephone experience today that it is hard to imaging living without it.

But when you think of it, CNAM doesn’t really give you much besides the name that the subscriber registered with their telephone company, which in itself is not always accurate. What do you really know about the caller? Not much. Do you know who is actually calling? What they want? What is the context and the subtext of the call? You don’t! Wouldn’t it be great if you knew all this before the call?

Well, our friends at Google thought a lot about this issue and came up with a pretty innovative solution.  The Google Duo video chat app includes  a feature which Google describes as  “Knock Knock See the caller before you pick up with Duo’s live preview feature.”  Yep, before you answer  the call. you can see the caller in Live Full Color Video. Knock Knock takes CallerID to a new level. Now you can actually see who is calling and get some pretty good idea what the call maybe about.

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Some pundits have pointed out that this function may lead to some very uncomfortable situations, since you see who is calling, but they do not know what is your status! What do you think? would you use Duo with Knock Knock?

 

 

Why didn’t GoDaddy acquire Fone.Do?

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Yesterday GoDaddy announced that they are acquiring the Hosted PBX provider FreedomVoice for $47m. Over the past year, GoDaddy met with many companies in the Hosted PBX space including us in their search for an ultimate phone solution for their customers. See below part of  our well received PPT  that we presented to GoDaddy.

Before I explain why they picked FreedomVoice and not Fone.Do (even though our technology is much more advanced), we need to understand more about GoDaddy and their customer base.  (BTW, everything I will write in this post, is based on publicly available information). As my friend the telecom analyst Peter Radizeski commented yesterday:

This line in the press release cracks me up: “GoDaddy has 14 million customers and many of them have struggled to find affordable and simple telephony solutions,” said Steven Aldrich, Chief Product Officer, GoDaddy. Really? There are approximately 2000 Hosted VoIP providers in the US. You can’t get away from the adds from 8×8, RC, Vonage, MegaPath and others, so if GoDaddy’s customers are struggling, well, that says something about the perception GoDaddy has of their customers.

Actually, when you look at who GoDaddy customers are, the PR is understandable. GoDaddy define their customers as VSBs (Very Small Businesses) with 1-5 employees with the majority being 1 man businesses. Some like to classify their typical customer as a One person, non-tech, business owner (usually female) who lives in the “flyover states”. As they explain in their annual report, GoDaddy sees their mission as supplying the Digital Identity to their customers. Until now this identity included 3 components – Domain, Email and WebSite. Recently they made a strategic decision to make a phone service the 4th component. In the slide at the top of this post you can see our mockup where we showed our vision of this 4th component.

GoDaddy understands that phone service is no longer a separate service from other digital services. More-so in this age of WebRTC, voice (and video) communications are integrated web services that are just another application in our digital life. I think we expressed this vision very well in these slides that we presented to GoDaddy in our first meeting a few months ago. If you read the GoDaddy PR, I think you can see traces of our vision in their future plans…

So why did they pick FreedomVoice and not Fone.Do? Well, historically Godaddy acquires businesses with a medium size customer base which they can grow and integrate into their existing product line. So, though we were probably a closer fit for GoDaddy, they preferred an established company and not a startup. Though, if I was them I would have preferred a solution with a better suited solution for the future of communications.

What did I learn from this experience? That in the future, we will see communication services integrated in every web application. That is where we are going and that is why we are such strong supporters of WebRTC!

 

BIG News – Apple jumps on the WebRTC Bandwagon!

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First the news  which was originally posted by Lantre Barr  – Apple, the last holdout of the big players,  is adding WebRTC technology in the Safari Browser!

In a minute I will explain why this is BIG news. But first, what is WebRTC? Like all internet users, you use a browser. In recent years, the browser has become the center of our internet activity. Most of us no longer install applications to do email, social media, banking, accounting or other activities. All we do is open our browser and get to work. One activity that the browser revolution skipped was communications. Until recently to communicate via audio or video, we needed first to install a program.

The people at Google noticed that and said hey, why don’t communications capabilities come built-in with your browser? As a result Google made a major push to promote the adaption of WebRTC.  So what is WebRTC?  The easiest way to explain it is to say that – Browsers who support WebRTC include all the technology you need to do audio and video communications.

Some have called this the biggest revolution in communications in recent times, and I agree. Why is this? Well for starts, you are no longer tied to your telephone or internet provider for communications, you can use any provider. But, more important – it is super easy to add an audio or video chat to any website. Examples are abundant. You are browsing a website and having a problem, up pops a chat window with a customer service rep, ready to help you. Your team wants to do an adhoc conference call. No need to subscribe to a Gomeeting. Zoom or similar service. You both open your browsers and are ready to go. Want to setup a full blown phone system for your office – Fone.do.it and in 2 minutes you are ready to go!

Why is this news from Apple –  BIG news? Large companies such as Google, Facebook, Slack, and small ones such as Fone.Do and appear.in all use WebRTC.  Naysayers love to point out the lack of Apple/Safari support to show that WebRTC will not take off. Such negative sentiment did delay some from adopting WebRTC. This is now behind us. Chrome, Firefox, Safari & Microsoft Edge are all on on the WebRTC bandwagon. New applications are being launched daily.

Nutting stopping us now!

CORRECTION: after writing this I learned that we are not there yet…

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Founding Father of the VoIP Industry Joins Fone.Do

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It is not every day that someone who was instrumental in founding your industry wants to join your startup advisory board! That is why we are very excited to announce that Jacob Ner-David, the former chairman  of Deltathree, one the original VoIP companies is now officially part of our Advisory Board.

20 years ago when VoIP was just an idea, Deltathree was launched, went public,  eventually reaching a $1.5b market cap while changing the stodgy telecom industry for ever. Since then Jacob has been an investor and founder in numerous ventures, one of the latest being the Jezreel Valley Winery.

From the beginning, while I was just starting to formulate my thoughts about the initiative that eventually became Fone.Do, Jacob was instrumental in helping us define our vision and focus. Since then he has always been kind enough  to review our ideas and make fruitful introductions.  So it is only natural to have Jacob join our existing  advisors as an official member of the Fone.Do advisory board.

Looking forward to working together and building Fone.Do into a great company – Thank you Jacob for joining us!

Gmail. Can You Please Teach Me to Use Gmail??

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If I would ask you to teach me, an internet savvy person,  how to use Gmail, what would you think? That I was probably joking – right? How about Facebook? Your banking? do you need training for those websites?

Of course not! Nowadays all web applications are designed and built to be easily understood by anyone who uses a web browser.  Well, all except business telephone services.

Installing and maintaining a small business phone system usually means calling a technician and spending hours configuring the system. Then each time you want to change something, again a technician is called to change the configuration. As someone who is a partner in a number of telephone companies, the situation is very familiar to me. Employees leave, new employees come, offices are closed for vacation and messages need to be changed. Each change like this calls for a modification in the phone system.

Why can’t a phone system be as simple as using Gmail? They definitely can!

Go ahead and try out Fone.Do. In only 2 minutes you can be up and running.

 

 

Fone.Do Awarded “Best of Show” at ITEXPO 2016

ITEXPO Best of Show

 

We had an exciting time last week at Fone.Do! While the IP Communications community congregated at the ITEXPO, we were busy with our booth.  We enjoyed sharing our latest developments with the thousands of visitors.

On Wednesday we were selected as one of 8 startups to present at the IDEA Showcase. Each presenter had 5 minutes to present their company and another 5 minutes to answer questions from the judging panel. It was a challenge to present the revolutionary aspects of Fone.Do in only a few minutes, but I think we did a good job!

The last day of the show, Thursday brought a big surprise when we were presented with the Best of Show award. The truth is that based on the feedback from the visitors to our booth, we knew we had built something special, but the validation that came with the award was definitely rewarding for our team.

Walking the aisles at ITEXPO it was evident how software is taking over the telecom world. At Fone.Do we are ready!

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Fone.Do – The World’s 1st “On Demand” PBX for SMB!

 

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On Demand services (otherwise known as Uber type services) are taking the world by storm. Though some may dismiss it as a buzzword, the truth is that we are in the midst of a revolution.  One of the best examples is AirBNB. The founders of AirBNB saw that  on one hand millions of people travel and the other hand at the same time, many homes and beds around the world are empty. By putting the two together they invented a new market. Uber is another great example. Why own a car which is not in use most of time? Uber, Gett and Lyft will provide you with a car and driver as need, on demand!

Here at Fone.Do we noticed all the small businesses working off their mobile phones and saw an opportunity. Most startups operate from multiple locations. The mobile phone is their best tool of communications. But lets face it making and receiving calls on your mobile is at the least unprofessional. What happens when you are in the bath, washing your 2 year old and an important call comes in from that Fortune 500 customer? Do you take it, or not?

This is just one situation that we thought of when designing Fone.Do . Our solution is to give you a professional facade wherever you may be. Fone.do works in your browser (with no download), on your mobile and your deskphone. The same business number goes with you at all times. You now have on your mobile a 2nd number for your business with all the related switchboard services. So the next time you get a call in the bathroom, the caller will hear a professional welcome message and the call will be routed either to a colleague or to the company voicemail  without any embarrassing situations.

If you know how to use Facebook and Gmail, you can setup your own Fone,Do system  in 3 minutes. Try it for free and see how liberating an On Demand Phone System can be for your small business.

 

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