No doubt, thousands of aspiring managed services providers (MSPs) and VARs are micro businesses -- sometimes built by one employee and a string of contractors. Eager to reach that crowd, SohoOS has developed a free business management platform that includes contact management, payment processing, marketing tools, customized reports and more. Here's the background.
SohoOS is designed to help low-budget companies manage their businesses. So far, more than 20,000 users have signed up to test or embrace the system since SohoOS launched a beta program in July 2010. (The company launched in mid-2009.) For a small fee, those users can access the SohoOS premium services: mass email distribution, fax, SMS campaigns, conference calls, business documents, project boards and more.
“Their IT orientation is fairly low and they’re not very familiar with different types of software,” said SohoOS Vice President of Business Affairs Ariel Cohen when speaking about the types of companies that SohoOS is most trying to help. Translation: Most SohoOS users are technology novices -- but the system may still appeal to MSPs that need a low-cost or no-cost business management system.
Still Ramping UpBut we all know that 20,000 users is a very small fraction of the micro-business industry. So why, in such a specialized and unpopulated market, has SohoOS been unable to reach a greater audience? The beta only started in July 2010. Plus, the platform has two potential areas for faster growth.
First: Until now, the management tools are only offered in English. That certainly presents a roadblock for a company that has 50 percent of its clients living outside of the United States. Second: SohoOS doesn’t currently offer any mobile compatibility to its services.
To address those issues, SohoOS this month unveiled a multilingual platform and the SohoOS Go Mobile application. The first multilingual application will be in English and Spanish. According Cohen, more languages will be added in the coming months, though he wouldn't disclose the specific target list. The mobile side of the equation will be available beginning in mid-February 2011 with a compatible version for the iPhone, and compatibility with other devices are coming in mid-2011.
Meanwhile, SohoOS recently entered into a marketing agreement with ChamberofCommerce.com (CoC) – a website that carries the profiles of scores of businesses from all over the United States. In theory, the agreement works out pretty well for both sides, as SohoOS will gain more exposure and CoC will have another tool to offer the site’s users – something not lost on CoC CEO David Bayer in this press release:
“SohoOS solutions are ideal for our small business members. Their ability to frequently launch new products that cater to a wide variety of business needs is a unique trait that makes SohoOS a great partner.”All of the recent moves made by SohoOS are aimed at accomplishing what Cohen describes as, “a revolution” -- one that results in small businesses being able to compete with any corporation. “Our goal is for every micro business to flourish,” said Cohen. “We are bringing our subscribers’ business partners together, helping them build virtual enterprises and helping them compete in a corporate world.”
We'll be watching to learn if micro MSPs kick the SohoOS tires.
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