by Ray Horak, Technology Editor
Epygi Technologies designs, manufactures and distributes IP PBXs, VoIP gateways and VoIP conference servers designed specifically for the SMB market. Since its formation in 2000, the privately held U.S. corporation has competed globally as well as in the domestic market. The Epygi Quadro family of IP PBXs comprises systems as small as the 2x, which supports up to 2 analog stations (phones, fax machines or POS terminals) and 16 IP endpoints. On the high side, the QuadroM32x adds a lot of features and scales up to 192 IP phones and up to 400 total extensions, including FXS phones, LAN IP phones, and remote and virtual extensions. Epygi also manufactures the Quadro FXO and Quadro E1/T1 gateways, and the Quadro CS SIP conference server.
I recently had an opportunity to spend a few minutes with Mario Cuello, CEO and co-founder of Epygi. I had some prepared questions. His responses were extemporaneous and very enlightening.
TR: The SMB market is a crowded place. What distinguishes Epygi? What differentiates Epygi products?
Cuello: Regarding Epygi, our focus was always completely on VoIP—from the initial concept, through the business plan, into product development and to product launch. Regarding the products, we developed the code entirely in-house. There were no acquisitions, mergers, consolidations or other unnatural or artificial events. As a result, every product is 100% home grown and organic. Every line of code and every element of every system was designed to work with every other, every time and all the time. Also, we focus exclusively on the SMB market, where we have a real sweet spot between 2 and 200 lines. We also build in the flexibility to gradually phase TDM out and IP in as people get more comfortable with IP. That appeals to a lot of small businesses. We offer great feature content and functionality at a price tailored to the SMB. In short, it’s all about maximizing functionality, reliability, flexibility and cost-effectiveness.
TR: It seems to us that SMB customers increasingly are looking for enterprise grade solutions. Do you seem the same trend?
Cuello: Sure, it’s a natural thing. A lot of small and medium businesses want big business features at a small business price. We strive to build enterprise-level functionality optimized for the SMB, allowing the business to add options as required to enhance their telephony experience.
TR: How are you positioning the Epygi brand? Again, it’s a crowded market.
Cuello: The key points are functionality, reliability, flexibility and cost effectiveness. Also, Epygi is an excellent alternative to open source, which we think is an important distinction. Open source may seem like a bargain at the moment, but can be a lot more costly over time. Maintenance is a prime example—a community forum is not the answer for when it comes to technical support. We auto-configure, so Epygi systems work right out of the box and we support them from Day One.
TR: What about distribution? What about Epygi particularly appeals to a VAR?
Cuello: As you pointed out, the SMB market is a crowded space and the margins can be low. Epygi systems add real value in terms of functionality, reliability, flexibility and cost effectiveness. I know I repeat myself, but we place a lot of emphasis on those points. We work closely with our channel partners and assist them in creating long-term, consultative relationships with their clients. We are always on the lookout for qualified VARs, by the way.
TR: There is a clear trend towards cloud computing. We haven’t seen a strong movement towards cloud telephony, aka hosted PBX and virtual PBX, but some suggest that the cloud is the future. What is your view?
Cuello: Sure, there is a lot of talk about the premises versus the cloud with respect especially to computing and storage, but we haven’t seen a tendency in that direction, at least not in our SMB space. We work very hard to ensure that our systems are 100% reliable. We don’t think the cloud can ever make that claim. Also, our market worries about what happens when a cloud telephony vendor pulls the plug, so to speak.
TR: Some vendors have a fairly complex sales process and tiered distribution strategy. How does Epygi go to market?
Cuello: Epygi is a channel-focused company. We have a small number of select distributors in the US and 500+ active VARs and interconnects. We host plenty of roadshows and sales and technical training sessions that equip our channel partners to provide top-notch level one support, and we stay close to those partners during the first few installations. Our partner portal includes app notes, marketing materials, webinars, online sales and technical training, language packs, free software tools, configuration tools, planning tools, an open discussion forum, a trouble ticket system, case studies, etc. We offer level two support from Dallas and Armenia, not quite on a 24×7 basis, but it’s close.
TR: One final question: We understand that Epygi has worked to lower the barriers of entry for dealers in this market: can you explain how that works?
Cuello: Sure. At the risk of repeating myself, we focus on functionality, reliability, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. We offer solid products at reasonable costs, and we provide solid support. We at Epygi build long-term relationships.
There is a lot more about Epygi to be found at epygi.com.