Rob Bakshi, Apivio’s President and CEO, is an experienced entrepreneur with a vision to change the enterprise phone market. After selling his last company, Silent Witness Enterprises to Honeywell in 2003, he was involved with several other businesses before being introduced to Moimstone Corporation in South Korea. Since that time, the Company (which has been rebranded as Apivio Systems Inc.) has sold more than 5 million enterprise VoIP and Wi-Fi phones in Korea and lists all of Korea’s largest telecommunications carriers as customers. Below is our interview with Rob:
Q: Rob, tell us something more about the company and your core competence?
A: Apivio is a leading vendor of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications devices, bringing together core competencies in the area of VoIP, Android and Wi-Fi. We design, develop and manufacture innovative devices that enable portability and smart Android applications over VoIP phones.
Our business was founded in South Korea in 2003 under the brand, Moimstone. At that time, the company seized on an opportunity to customize VoIP telephones for telephone service providers (Telco’s and Cable providers) in South Korea as they were rolling out a hosted VoIP service for their small business and residential customers. The company has been selling more than half a million phones each year into that market since 2010, including more than one million phones in 2015 alone. Apivio has sold more than 5 million phones in Korea since inception.
However, our more recent story begins with Moimstone’s arrival to Vancouver, Canada. I was introduced to the company in 2009 and immediately saw the opportunity to take this business global. I recognized that most vendors in the enterprise telephony business were more focused on innovation on the back end, leaving a lot of room for improvement with the phones and other endpoints. My vision is that one day, every enterprise phone will be a smart phone, thereby shifting our value proposition from hardware to software and enhancing the enterprise phone experience with apps.
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With this in mind, my first order of business was to rebrand our company here in North America and list it on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker APV.V. Then, we began working on our innovation strategy—Apivio evolved from a product-based company to building a technology platform that integrated cloud-based solutions with VoIP, Android and Wi-Fi technologies.
Although still in our early stages as a growth company, I’m proud to state that Apivio works with some of the largest global brands such as NEC, LG U Plus, SK Broadband, Korea Telecom and CJ Hello Vision. Currently, we have 80 employees working out of its offices in South Korea, BC and across North America and more than $60 million in annual revenue.
Q: You’ve recently announced a letter of intent to develop the next generation Android based enterprise smart desk phone; tell us something more?
A: Yes, our announcement with NEC Corporation in Japan is a key milestone for our business. After working successfully with NEC Corporation of America to develop our Monet Series, UT880 smart enterprise desktop phone, this agreement to develop further products while expanding distribution to all NEC theatres globally is a strong validation of the quality and performance of our technology as well as NEC sharing our vision on the market potential of the enterprise smart phone.
Related: See announcement here
Related: Watch the UT880 video here:
More specifically, our developing relationship with NEC reinforces our strategy of re-inventing the enterprise desktop telephone is materializing. Simply put, Apivio’s vision is to make enterprise desktop phones “smart” via our Android-based, VoIP smartphones.
The Monet-series of smart desktop phones represent a transformation in enterprise telephony since each phone can be loaded with productivity apps and custom interfaces, representing a fundamental shift in how enterprise telephones can be used. For instance, these phones could be used by hotels to stream restaurant and sightseeing advertisements, creating a guest-driven experience that generates new revenues for the hotel. Hospitals can reduce costs by lending discharged patients a smart phone so that regular conference calls can be held with the patient to assess his or her recovery, rather than having the patient return to the hospital for a costly visit.
It’s these types of market opportunities that captured the imagination of NEC Corporation of America, and now its parent company, NEC Corporation.
Q: Why motivates customers to stay with the company?
A: At the heart of everything we do is our people. From our leadership to our research development team to our customer service team, we strive to develop products and solutions that meet the needs of our clients over the long-term and provide excellent service as they deploy.
There is no secret to our market leadership in South Korea. Over the years, we have developed strong relationships with our customers who appreciate our ability to deliver products on time and on budget. Further, they also depend on our team to develop next generation products that meet the needs of their product road map which has served to develop a strong mutually beneficial partnership.
In the case of NEC Corporation of America, the development of the Monet Series UT880 phone has become a key part of their product innovation.
At the recent NEC Advantage event for their resellers, during the conference’s keynote presentation, NEC executives elaborated about how the company was positioning itself to provide smart enterprise solutions. In fact, the conference’s theme was “Discover the Power of the Smart Enterprise” and focused on creating success for its resellers via the transition to software based recurring revenues in smart enterprises. In its old revenue model, hardware was typically a one-time sale, then the dealer would move onto the next customer to look for new sales opportunities. With apps and software based services, dealers can leverage the existing installed hardware base to sell productivity tools that generate recurring revenues with higher margins.
Q: How will Apivio implement this shift?
A: We are proud to work with NEC to develop products and solutions with the potential for generating recurring revenues. To support this effort, NEC America launched its App Store in December 2015. Apivio will develop some apps that will be distributed in the app store. Third party app developers are also pleased to have their apps distributed in an app store targeted at the enterprise market.
Moreover, NEC has more than 3,000 dealers globally and over 700 dealers in North America alone. The dealers are the first line of contact with the customer. NEC trains and educates their dealers so that they have all the right tools to sell the NEC suite of products and services. Apivio will work with NEC and its dealers to leverage their extensive customer base to sell new Monet phones and productivity tools and apps for recurring revenue streams.
We also get ideas and comments from NEC’s customers regarding customized apps to serve specific needs. Apivio will develop apps that it considers critical for faster adoption of the phone with the rest being passed onto the Android app development community.
In addition, Apivio is working to get the UT880 certified to work on the Broadsoft PBX that will enable us to reach a large number of third party integrators and service providers. This will extend the channel and potential market for this phone.
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Q: What do employees love about the company?
A: With over 80 employees now located in the US, Canada and South Korea, our staff have come to love the innovative culture Apivio offers. Our diversity is our strength and highlights the collaborative effort each and every employee brings to the table. They feel like they are working on a disruptive product that will change the face of enterprise telephony as we know it.
I’m proud of our leadership team as they have helped to engrain our vision, mission and corporate culture throughout our organization.
Q: What can we expect from Apivio Systems in the future?
A: A lot. We have a proud research and development tradition.
In line with our Monet UT880 phones, we intend to fully develop enterprise applications and launch our own cloud-based provisioning and troubleshooting system called “CLive” in addition to developing Wi-Fi products that add value to the overall enterprise experience. Stay tuned for further announcements on these product lines.
Enterprise App Development
In December 2015, NEC America launched the NEC Marketplace App Store, and NEC will share a percentage of the revenue from every app installed on a Monet-series phone. The platform is also open to third-party developers, and Apivio will receive a percentage of the revenue from every third-party application installed on a Monet as well.
IoT and the Cloud
Moving forward, Apivio is developing a cloud-based system called “CLive” that assists enterprises and service providers to authenticate and provision Apivio phones. With CLive, you can also upgrade, troubleshoot, remotely activate, turn on or off or send messages to any or all the phones on the network. This cloud-based system vastly improves the ability of enterprises or carriers to manage these phones. Users of CLive will also be able to control a range of peripheral devices within the enterprise or the home as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to evolve to new areas. Our goal is to lead the creation of a seamless VoIP services ecosystem, at the office and at home.
Extended Desktop Phones via Wi-Fi
We are very excited about the potential to bring the desktop phone experience to workers in large facilities and campuses. Workers in distributed enterprises such as warehouses, stadiums, hospitals, or airports are often working away from their desks. These workers are often away from their desks or offices, forcing callers to leave voicemail which may not be returned on a timely basis.
Enterprises could significantly improve communications by allowing employees to carry their desktop phone with them. Our Liberty Series Wi-Fi phones make this happen. As long as employees use their Wi-Fi phones within their office Wi-Fi networks, they can make or receive calls when away from their desks.Activate Social Media: