Startup Roundup: Phone.com, TOMO!, Text Engine



Photo: Ari Rabban, CEO, Phone.com Photo Credit: Courtesy Ari Rabban

Ari Rabban, CEO, Phone.com | Courtesy Ari Rabban

Phone.com: Newark-based startup Phone.com has made a couple of interesting moves lately.

The company announced on Jan. 21 that it was extending its agreement with LiftMaster (Elmhurst, Ill.), a supplier of gated community access systems, to incorporate Phone.com’s Voice over Internet (VoIP) services into LiftMaster’s next-generation solutions. According to a release, this eliminated LiftMaster’s need for costly analog telephone lines at each installation. Phone.com noted that “this represents an innovative step towards the Internet of Things (IoT), where devices and people can be seamlessly interconnected.”

Ari Rabban, cofounder and CEO of Phone.com, commented, “Phone.com recognized the need to offer voice communications services in a variety of ways, including those now included in the ‘Internet of Things (IoT)’ concept. The relationship with LiftMaster has allowed Phone.com to expand the scope of our offerings and how we view emerging marketplaces. This relationship has proven to be rewarding and we look forward to continually enhancing it.”

Rabban told NJTechWeekly.com that the revenue from this deal will have an impact on the company’s bottom line, and that the fact that LiftMaster chose his company was a validation for the startup. “They chose us over many VOIP cloud service providers,” he said.

The company noted that it had taken steps to strengthen its network through a partnership with Sansay (San Diego, Calif.), a provider of high performance, scalable and highly reliable session border controllers and related infrastructure software. The deployment delivers significant improvements to Phone.com network’s reliability, Phone.com said in a statement.

With this advanced solution, Phone.com will continue to expand its customer base in the small-to-medium-sized business marketplace, and will be able to deliver enhanced service to Web real-time communications voice markets, with Sansay providing session control, security, high availability media handling, transcoding, packet header manipulations and call routing.

Photo: TOMO! Team cofounders Frank Ozoria and Alfonzo Smith Photo Credit: Courtesy TOMO!

TOMO! Team cofounders Frank Ozoria and Alfonzo Smith | Courtesy TOMO!

TOMO! TOMO!, a startup founded by Rutgers and William Paterson University grads, with a team in Teaneck and others all over the East Coast, said that it’s tackling a 21st-century problem caused by the proliferation of social media platforms.

“In today’s society, we have evolved from exchanging business cards to exchanging social media information. As more social media platforms emerge, social media is growing exponentially. It has become more of a task to keep up with peers on various applications due to different user  ‘handles’ per application,” said cofounder and CFO Alfonzo Smith. Social media users who have both Twitter and Instagram accounts, for example, don’t always have the same user name, he explained.

The company emerged from stealth mode in July 2015 with a launch in New York, and has been pressing forward ever since. Cofounder and CFO Alonso Smith told us that TOMO! was developed to provide a more efficient and convenient way to exchange social media information. It allows users to link their various social media accounts to a single platform.

He added that the “Social Card” feature — a sort of business card for social media — makes it easy to share social media info with someone you’re meeting for the first time. The Social Card can be shared on any social media network or cross-promoting social media account, ultimately leading to more friends/followers. Smith called it “social pollination.”

The company is marketing through events, hoping that the app will go viral. On January 27, the startup hosted a 170-person networking event at Mexicali Live (Teaneck) that featured local musicians 3RDSNR. The startup said that all the profits went to charity.

Text Engine: Eric Bryant, cofounder, CEO and CTO of the Bedminster-based startup Text Engine, told us that the company had been accepted into the reSET accelerator (Hartford, Conn.), whose mission is to advance the social enterprise sector. ReSet  kicked off its 2016 accelerator cohort on January 20.

The program accepted 21 businesses — from Connecticut to California. Most of their models are impact-focused, serving the educational technology, health and health tech and energy industries, as well as agriculture. More than 60 percent of them are already generating revenue.

Bryant noted that Text Engine now has over 1,200 users, 22 percent of them active, and signs up two or three new users a day. “We achieved break-even status in 2015. …We now have paying users and a code for our license.”

Bryant had some things to say about accelerators, noting that it was very hard to get anyone’s attention in New Jersey and that it was also difficult in upper New York State, although a Brooklyn accelerator was interested, as were accelerators in Massachusetts, Pittsburgh and England.

 “Its worth noting that Shari Sloane, my cofounder, is from Rochester, N.Y. …We also applied to the nearest accelerator to her, StartFast,” but the director wouldn’t look at their business plan. “He simply rejected us out of hand because only one of us could attend his program full-time. I still feel that New Jersey and upstate New York really need to demonstrate a much deeper commitment to their own, homegrown startups.” Text Engine was selected by the Connecticut Technology Council as a 2015 “Tech Company To Watch.”

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