Sramana Mitra: What year does that bring us up to?
Mike Oeth: 2002.
Sramana Mitra: Where were you located? Still in Connecticut or had you moved out by now?
Mike Oeth: At that point, I had moved down to Yardley, Pennsylvania. RCN is based in Princeton, New Jersey; so for a while, I was commuting from Connecticut down to Princeton. Eventually, we left RCN and went with a small startup out of Livingston, New Jersey in 2002. That’s where I met Rob Wolpov. Rob has a degree from Columbia. He was handling the product development and there, I was handling customer service. Once Rob and I met, we launched a company that got bought by a company out of New York. Eventually, we got together with John and started Junction Networks in 2004.
Sramana Mitra: What were the economics of the company that you did before that? You bootstrapped that company and then sold it. Is that what happened?
Mike Oeth: It was still in the gestational period but it was a great concept. The concept and the people involved were purchased by a public company out of New York. That company was LivePerson and they’re still around. The idea that we had was having a single sign-in for SaaS providers wherein you would have a one-stop shopping place with a single sign-in for all of your different SaaS platforms. To this date, it’s still not a developed idea, which is unfortunate.
Sramana Mitra: So in 2004, you started another company?
Mike Oeth: Right.
Sramana Mitra: That’s not the company we are talking about today?
Mike Oeth: Junction Networks is the name of the company. OnSIP is the name of our product. People know OnSIP more than they know Junction Networks.
Sramana Mitra: Tell me more about what were the circumstances of founding the company. How did you get it off the ground? What was the competitive landscape at that time? Obviously, hosted PBX has competition.
Mike Oeth: At that time, there wasn’t a lot of competition. There were a few providers out there but nothing like it is today. What we really saw and what piqued our imagination was the shape of the open source landscape. Asterisk was just being developed. FreeSWITCH wasn’t out there yet. OpenSIPS was probably just starting out. Asterisk was the company that caught our attention. What John had done at Interport Communications was take a couple of different open source platforms, stitch them together with his magic sauce of his own software, and provide and create a great business service out of that.
What we saw in 2004 reminded us of the Internet landscape in 1994. We came together in 2004 and decided that on top of Asterisk and a couple of other tools, we could probably create a very successful, flexible, and from a startup point of view, inexpensive hosted PBX platform. We started out, nationally, with SIP Trunking. That’s a product we still provide today. We still get a couple of customers a week for SIP Trunking platform. With Asterisk, MySQL, and open source database, we were able to put together a platform where John, Rob, and I each put in $10,000. That was enough to get the project up and off the ground.