Alon Aginsky: Hotels made a lot of money from 800 number calls and calls made locally from the rooms. That was the second most important income for hotels, hospitals, and universities. I wondered if there’s something that I can do in New York. I grabbed a few of those cards with me and took a plane to New York. I didn’t have any idea about what to do but I had $400,000 and a few cards.
As they say in the restaurant business, the most important thing is location, location, and location. I thought that the same thing perhaps applies in telecom. I looked for a small office in the Empire State Building. Luckily, I found an empty janitor room with no windows on the nineteenth floor. It was around six square meters. You could fit only a desk and a chair in there. I rented that room. On my card, I was able to write MCS, which was the name of the company along with the address – Empire State Building Suite 1910, 355th Avenue, New York 10018. That was the beginning of this journey. At the beginning, I sold the solution to law firms and hotels on my own.
Sramana Mitra: Can you specifically describe what it was that you were selling?
Alon Aginsky: I was selling a product called call accounting, which nowadays is called TEM or telecom expense management. The main customer targets were hotels and law firms. For every call, you had to put a code in your phone so it was recorded in the PBX. Our software was recording the length of the call and multiplying the cost of the hourly rate of a lawyer. That was the bill presented to the customer.
In hospitals, when people rented phones, they had codes that hospitals would use to charge patients on check out. It’s the same thing for dorms in universities. That was the space – selling call accounting solutions for those specific sectors.
Sramana Mitra: Who were the first customers?
Alon Aginsky: The first customers were a few Wall Street law firms. One of them was our law firm in the US. Later on, we had about 50 law firms in New York City alone. At the beginning, I was doing sales, installation, and customer support. I was on the phone a lot with those two amazing gentlemen in Israel. Obviously, this was before Skype. Everything was done on the phone. I was working 24/7. We managed to sell and I grew and I hired a couple of people. Later on, I had offices in Atlanta and San Francisco.