Seattle-based Infratel today announced a $3 million Series A round of funding, supplied by Prostor Capital and Runa Capital. The funding will help the cloud-based telephony service provider build out its product offering, and also continue to expand in the U.S. and in Western Europe. For the company, which just recently debuted its Facebook phone system integration aimed at small and home office businesses, the opportunity it’s chasing is a big one; according to Infratel CEO Bryan Goode, there are at least 11 million small businesses in its chosen focus markets with websites but no phone service to speak of.
Of course, for newer businesses, the problem isn’t necessarily identifying those without telephony options, but convincing them that they actually need one. Many, especially freelancers and home-bound operations, will opt to keep communications to email, or use a free solution like Google Voice to handle inbound phone requests. But Goode thinks that there’s still plenty of appetite for the kinds of services his company provides, especially now that they’ve broadened their entry-level offerings. Also, Infratel’s distribution method should help it cover as much ground as possible.
“One of the things that’s truly unique is that we’ve really built our solution for channel partners, specifically hosters, cloud service providers and resellers,” he explained. By going through players that already have front-line solutions designed to appeal to businesses and relationships with them, Infratel can cast as wide a net as possible.
The Facebook integration marks a new direction for the company, which before now has focused on actual business websites. As more and more businesses use Facebook as a channel to connect with customers, having a professional, routed telephone service attached to that presence is becoming more important. Often, Goode says, there are just too many steps between customers and service when they’re connecting to businesses over Facebook. Having a simple click to call button on a Facebook page shortens that process. It’s also a key introductory tool for Infratel, allowing it to show businesses what it can handle and then directing them to more extensive offerings as their needs scale.
Despite growing reliance on live in-browser chat and email lines of communication, many people still want to connect with an actual individual before giving them their trust – and their money. The company still has to earn business away from other, bigger players like Cisco, but its focus on delivering barebones but effective offerings for even the tightest budgets should help it continue to grow, so long as the phone remains a dominant customer service channel.