CounterPath has added a VAR channel in the last couple years, although the new service will initially launch only through service provider and retail channels, in case any issues need to be worked out.
Vancouver-based unified communications vendor CounterPath Corporation has launched Bria Teams, a new service aimed at SMBs to provide team communications and collaboration tools across desktop and mobile devices.
CounterPath has two flagship lines, Bria and Stretto. Bria is endpoints while Stretto is their UC platform, which has a capability for messaging, presence, screensharing and collaboration.
“We are the largest unique independent vendor of softphones on the market,” said Todd Carothers, CounterPath’s EVP of Sales and Marketing. “We work on any SIP platform.” They have been in business for 14 years and have over 20 million users.
CounterPath is not, however, a well-known name in the channel, and there are reasons for that.
“Historically, a lot of our business was OEM, to Cisco and to Avaya, as well as to large service providers,” Carothers said. “We still sell to the carriers and we still OEM, but we have added an enterprise focus. While we were not a channel player in the past, we have started to build up our channel business in the last two years. A lot of the channel focus is traditional VAD and VAR relationships, and is mainly around mobile.”
The channel is particularly important in sales on a recurring revenue model.
“100 per cent of what we do there is through channel partners,” Carothers said. “Service providers and OEMs are a mix of different business models.”
Bria Stretto is their stronger channel offering.
“It has basic and business bundles, which are standardized, so is well suited for the channel,” Carothers indicated. “We also enable the channel to make money on the solution, with a variation on the free client download. We’ve come up with a way to give partners a sell-through. The users can download the client for free, and the VAR gives them credentials to log in, so they can get margin.”
CounterPath sells broadly up and down the market. Micro-businesses generally buy from their online retail store.
“The 50 to 100 space is where the channel really kicks in, although we also serve them through ITSPs and some through OEMs,” Carothers said. “We have had more enterprise pull more recently across the channel side. We don’t typically knock on the door of the Bank of America, but the battles between Microsoft and Cisco have created some enterprise opportunities for us because customers want to avoid vendor lock.”
The percentage of business done through the VAR channel is still relatively low, although the number of partners Carothers described as being in the low hundreds. E4 strategies is the main distributor in the U.S., while they use ProVu in the U.K.
“We prefer the more nimble technical VADs who can work with VARs,” Carothers said. “In Canada, we use some smaller distributors, but it’s mainly out of the U.S.”
While CounterPath is a Canadian company, the Canadian market is a relatively small part of their business.
“Even our pricing is in U.S. dollars,” Carothers said. “The U.S. and western Europe are our largest markets. In Canada, we have sold to the three largest carriers – Rogers, Telus and Bell. It’s just a smaller business because it’s a smaller market.”
The new Bria Teams cloud-based platform is focused on secure team communication, and provides messaging, presence, HD voice and video calling, and screen sharing on up to three devices per user.
“The battleground area on the UC side has become collaboration, and a lot of it is team-focused,” Carrothers said. “It started with Slack, but we think there can be a better user experience, and we think we have a better one. It’s all from a single interface., whether you want a full meeting or want to go one-to-one. Many people use different apps like Skype or WhatsApp in UC for different things. What we are trying to do is provide a unified user experience in one application, that is extremely easy to use. We think we can successfully go after that consolidated collaboration experience.
“Because CounterPath provides companies with PBX, Bria Teams also overlays on that, and also on their current VoIP service,” Carothers added. That lets customers leverage their existing infrastructure investments.
The VAR channel will have to wait for a bit to get Bria Teams, however.
“Out of the gate, it will go through the retail and service provider channels,” Carothers said. “This is a fairly complicated service, and we want to manage it as tightly as possible initially. We will expand it to the VAR/VAD channel once we work out the wrinkles.”
The roadmap calls for the addition of Chat Rooms, and integrations which include Salesforce, Google G-Suite and Dropbox.
Bria Teams pricing plans are available as monthly subscriptions for $USD 5.95 per user, or as annual subscriptions of $USD 47.40 per user. It is available for a free 30-day trial at www.softphone.com.