Well, Etel has started and I am in the first session with Brian McConnell a serial telephony entrepreneur. He is talking about how to start a telephony business without breaking the bank or taking VC money. He must know something, since he has done it a few times already :-).
Though the conference has just started, in a few minutes I already ran into Jim Van Meggelen, Ken Camp, Moshe Yudkowsky and touched base electronically with Pat Phelan, Frederick from Jajah and Thomas Howe. Thats what I find really exciting about Etel, the possibility to meet informally with the top doers and thinkers in IP telephony.
Brian is sharing his experience starting businesses. Some of the important points that he made was you shouldn’t look for VC money unless you really need it, or take paper in private companies since you may get wiped out. He took good ideas at the right time and grew the company with his own cash / credit cards. Sure he didn’t build Skype, but then how many do? There is room for small companies to find their niche and make money.
Brian brought up the issue of how bad the IVR experience is at the big companies and how there is room to blend the IVR with their datebase so you can just call in and they will give you info based on their DB, without asking questions. For example you are on a airline waiting list, you can the airline, your Caller ID is fed to the DB and right away the agent says hello Mr. Maeir, your flight has not cleared yet, anything else? Wouldn’t that be great? He also had a great story how he couldn’t get thru to a human being at his bank, so what did he do? he set up automatic lines to dial the bank and say ” this is a disgruntled customer, press 1 to hear his complaint etc..) he did this for hours and it made such a big splash that within a day he was on network TV
From the amount of pain I hear about this – there is definitely a big market for SMART IVR solutions. Look at the Mashup Contest that is taking place here to hear more about this – my friend Thomas Howe will be showing an interesting medical triage solution.