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Bootstrapping in Pennsylvania: OnSIP CEO Mike Oeth (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Jan 29th 2015

Sramana Mitra: Interesting! What about financing? Did you, at any point, raise external financing?

Mike Oeth: We did not. We have stayed completely self-funded. We see ourselves as a software company and we’re lucky enough to have software margins. We’ve been cash flow positive since 6 to 12 months of starting. Rob does the marketing and the finance. He does an amazing job with our projections so know where we can expect our funds to be. We live within those means.

Sramana Mitra: You’re a bootstrapped company, basically?

Mike Oeth: Yes, we’re completely bootstrapped.

Sramana Mitra: Awesome. Strategically, what else have you done that produced immense value whether it’s in customer acquisition, competitive positioning, or partnerships? Have you done something strategically interesting that is worth discussing and something that our audience would like to learn from you?

Mike Oeth: We leverage open source a lot. Giving back to the open source community has been important for us. Strategically, it has worked out well. Last year, we launched software and developer tools built on WebRTC. WebRTC is the ability for a web browser to have access to the speaker, microphones, and video cameras directly and allows the browser, without additional software, to have real-time communications. What it doesn’t have is any inherent communications protocol. How does that communication get set up and torn down? How do you do media negotiations and product negotiations?

We put out into the open source community something called SIP.js, which is an open source JavaScript library for SIP call control for WebRTC. For us, it’s partially about giving back to the community. It’s also a very strategic move. That has become the default SIP library for WebRTC. When someone talks about SIP.js, they’re talking about OnSIP as well.

Sramana Mitra: Anything else that you want to share?

Mike Oeth: Giving back and doing it in a strategic way, we have the GetOnSIP platform. It’s a place to get free SIP addresses. We have nearly a hundred thousand users. You can make and receive free SIP-based calls and get a free SIP address. It’s definitely been another interesting avenue to get customers. Probably the biggest thing we’ve done in the last two to three years was focus on our channel. We have a very active channel. It’s a bit of a tight-rope walk to sell retail both through the website and through a channel. Our channel directer has done an amazing job in negotiating and keeping our resellers happy, and at the same time, not having a conflict with them on the resale side.

From a straight business point of view, the channel has been our big strategic move but the SIP.js and the GetOnSIP have paid some huge dividends. They’re areas where most companies wouldn’t really think to go and explore open source software. We also provide free service. It’s not even a freemium. It’s completely free. Those are the types of things that, if you’re able to do, pay dividends.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping in Pennsylvania: OnSIP CEO Mike Oeth
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