Startup Spotlight: UsefulTools brings affordable call center help to small businesses
Headquarters: Miami, in Pipeline Brickell.
Concept: UsefulTools creates a marketplace for small businesses and marketers to buy excess capacity from Call Centers, known as “unoccupied time,” through an innovative technology platform that allows for the seamless creation of individual call center campaigns in under 60 seconds. UsefulTools (UsefulTools.com) software as a service (SaaS) provides customers with an intuitive user interface and access to the marketplace where they can purchase unoccupied agent time in a specific skill set (such as HIPPA certified, bilingual, U.S.-based or international), use a drag-and-drop script designer and monitor and measure progress with a real-time dashboard and analytics.
Story: Adam Boalt’s career started in 1999 in online advertising and then in 2007 he began creating his own products and started and sold several online businesses, including RushMyPassport.com, which he successfully exited last December. Along the way one of the biggest challenges and frustrations that he and his clients encountered was the increasing difficulty in having a real person answer the phone, simply take a message or even route the call. Adding to this is the fact that traditional call centers require large monthly commitments and long lead times for setting up campaigns, making it unfeasible for most small businesses, Boalt said. “I set out to solve the problem by creating a technologically advanced call center platform that is fast, easy-to-use, and accessible for small businesses.” The key to creating this opportunity: utilizing unoccupied agents at call centers.
Launched: March 2013
Management team: Adam Boalt, CEO; Ryan Riley Sr., marketing director; Eugene Babchin Sr., software engineer; and Arleys Resco Sr., UI developer.
No. of employees beyond management team: 5, and hiring 10 software engineers and others.
Financing: $500,000 to date. “Although we are not actively seeking investment capital, we are open to discussing opportunities with the right venture capital team,” Boalt said.
Recent milestones reached: Completion of the UsefulTools call routing platform powered by Twilio’s SIP API. Launching initial pilot test with LiveOps anticipating 10,000 minutes for the first month and actually logging 100,000 minutes. Strategic partnership with Intelemedia Communications to provide analytics, call center agent scoring and resource planning for 47 of the nation’s largest call centers, including LiveOps, West, Convergys and AmeriDial. “Adam is thinking like the customer,” said David Schreck, CEO of Intelemedia, who first met Boalt at a trade show this summer. “And he’s very genuine with high integrity and insight.”
Biggest startup challenge: Human capital. “The Miami startup community is growing but it’s still small. I spend 50 percent of my day interviewing new software engineers,” Boalt said.
Next step: “After recently launching our product at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, our main focus has been to onboard call centers to UsefulTools in order to service the demand we’ve created in a very short time,” Boalt said. He said the company is also integrating with SAP on its new HANA cloud platform, which will provide real-time predictive analytics to call centers.
Mentor’s view: “Adam is an experienced player and he knows, from experience, that a key component for a new company that wants to grow is to stay nimble, keep energized and have a network of people to bounce ideas off of. Pipeline has worked with Adam from the time we met through a mutual friend at HIG Capital, by providing a community of synergistic entrepreneurs,’’ said Todd Oretsky, co-founder of Pipeline, a co-working center in Miami. Oretsky agreed that it is difficult to find good people but urged him to keep at it. “As the word gets out that UsefulTools is scaling, Adam’s inbox will be filled with strong resumes.”