“A big part of that (opportunity) is ‘How do you notify the right people at the right time, with the right information?’” she says.
Put simply, Benbria’s intelligent notification offering provides a two-way mass communications system on multiple platforms including PC, IP paging to overhead speakers, mobile technology and voice messaging. Recipients and confirmation feedback are tracked with live updating reports, allowing users to view who’s received what message and where they are.
A well-publicized deal with Carleton University last year marked the company’s arrival onto the Ottawa scene, but its success hasn’t stopped since then. It doubled its workforce to 16 since November, will launch a U.K. office within months, has recorded several consecutive quarters of revenue growth and, says Ms. Baptiste, now has “more customers than employees” – boasting around 20 clients in the U.S., India and Australia, among others.
The company also seems to have picked up particular traction in the education and enterprise markets, though it is facing competition from local firm Amika Mobile and U.S. companies Inova Solutions and ERMS Corp.
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Serial tech powerhouse Terry Matthews chairs the company’s board, and the savvy veteran’s fingerprints are all over the firm, which was started by three University of Waterloo students. A product of the Wesley Clover group of companies, the latter’s vice-president, Simon Gwatkin, is also Benbria’s vice-president of marketing. Benbria is a Mitel strategic partner, as well.
But don’t think the company’s technology is meant only for emergencies. Far from it, says Ms. Baptiste. “Every company or enterprise we talk to has a use for this, either where it will improve their efficiency or business operations,” she says. “(Customers) are using this technology for compliance obligations. Think about the retail sector – they’ve got a lot of information they’ve got to send out to their stores, and it’s important that they have two-way communication. It’s also great for situations like product recalls.”
And while Ms. Baptiste says the company hasn’t given any auto manufacturers a call just yet – though it may only be a matter of time – it’s also noteworthy the company also hasn’t yet attacked government verticals, which presumably could use the technology to communicate with citizens during times of crisis.
“We’re seeing huge demand, and we’ve got a real opportunity to accelerate our business sooner than we’d planned. And we’re going to try to knock the doors off of this opportunity.” - CEO Andrea Baptiste
Whatever its target market, Benbria certainly doesn’t seem strapped for cash. It closed an oversubscribed angel round last year and will launch a second round at an increased valuation in the first half of 2010, Ms. Baptiste says.
“And we’re doing that to grow our channels to market, and to grow our service model as a software-as-a-service business.”
While Ms. Baptiste adds the company is “considering” its future in terms of potential buyouts or M&A activity, she says its main concern lies in “growing the company with a strong value proposition.
“Our focus right now is on the heavy acceleration of our business, and building shareholder value.”
Year founded: 2007
Local head count: 16
Funding to date: One angel round, undisclosed
Product: Cross-media unified notification system