IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Vendor to Watch: Ooma Inc.

This smart communications platform for business phone service offers resellers monthly recurring revenue and the ability to offer easy, affordable phone services to very small businesses. By Michael Siggins with Cecilia Galvin

What is Ooma? According to Tim Sullivan, vice president of sales at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Ooma, it’s a smart communications platform that got its start 10 years ago delivering home phone service. About four years ago the company leveraged the Ooma platform and launched a business product, Ooma Office. “We built on the DNA of the consumer platform, and have been very happy with the results,” says Sullivan.

In addition to reliable phone service, Ooma Office delivers advanced phone features such as a virtual receptionist, extension dialing, fax, conferencing, and “music on hold” to its target market of companies with fewer than 20 users. “What we are doing is making available to that segment an easy-to-use, easy-to-manage, and powerful VoIP service.” Plus, every user on the Ooma Office system gets a mobile app that gives them full functionality from his or her mobile phone.

Most SMB resellers, notes Sullivan, focus on companies with 20 or more seats, making it worthwhile to invest time in a truck roll and make it affordable for the client. But Ooma Office makes it possible for IT providers to service clients that have only a handful of employees. “A reseller can have Ooma preconfigured and ready to install even before he rolls a truck to go see the customer,” explains Sullivan. “And it’s a very short amount of time on the client premises getting it set up.”

VoIP service works well for small offices with robust internet. But for offices with poor service Ooma offers an on-premises Linx device that works with analog phones. “Our box [Linx] allows us to compensate for less than optimal internet on-site because we can manage QoS [quality of service],” says Sullivan. “We have a service called Peer Voice that overcomes some local internet issues [such as] packet loss.” That’s something larger phone systems don’t have, he adds. “It allows resellers to capture that client with the least amount of headache.”

The ability to offer VoIP or analog service, says Sullivan, makes Ooma flexible for the reseller and the client. Moreover, for offices that want to use mobile devices rather than office handsets, there’s Ooma Office for Mobile. “So if you were purely a business that wanted to run everything on your [mobile] phones, you could get started today without any setup at all, by downloading the iOS or Android apps and signing up for the free trial,” explains Sullivan.

Ooma compensates resellers with a four-X monthly recurring revenue as a single commission payment for the installation of a new customer. The company also has plans that enable partners to take advantage of margins on hardware sales, whether IP phones or the company’s base unit. There’s also an ongoing residual percentage that IT pros can qualify for with a certain amount of business.

For IT providers who are not “all in” on providing phone service, Ooma offers an affiliate program that enables resellers to furnish Ooma with leads. The company’s internal team then works the leads on the partners’ behalf and the partners earn the same one-time, four-X monthly recurring revenue when it closes.

Sullivan stresses, however, that the company’s primary focus for the reseller community is building its resale network for Ooma Office.