Sales organizations have a new, business communications platform over which to get very excited.
It’s less clear how employees will feel about it.
The company, New York-based Mast Mobile, was founded in 2013 by several Virgin Mobile execs, along with DFJ partner and former Facebook product manager Bubba Murarka. It has a novel proposition, too, which is to provide each employee at a company one device with separate work and personal numbers. Their pitch to those employees: No one should be toting around more than one phone, and current ways to separate work and personal calls on one device are cumbersome. Their pitch to employers: Mast’s software integrates into Salesforce, letting companies better track their sales teams’ calls and obtain more comprehensive reporting.
Yesterday, we talked with cofounder and CEO David Messenger to learn more. We also discussed Mast’s new funding — a $7 million round led by FirstMark Capital, with participation from DFJ, Eniac Ventures, Harrison Metal, HMM Investors, and Initialized Ventures.
TC: On a very basic level, how does your tech work?
DM: We’ve created a platform where you can have a work and personal number on one device and it works natively. You don’t have to toggle back and forth or drill into Google Voice to dig out your personal number. If someone calls your work number, you’ll see the incoming number along with [the words] “calling your work number.” The same is true of someone calling your personal line. We also apply intelligence [that helps determine] which number should be used for outbound calls. And if a personal contact calls your work number and is tagged as a work contact, you can easily mark that person as a personal contact instead.
TC: How does the billing work?
DM: A company that signs up with Mast can create a company account in five minutes and set up an employee in a few clicks. The company defines the plan for different employees, then invites the employee to sign up, after which a phone gets delivered within 24 hours. We do automated split billing on the back end, so the company pays for what it has agreed to cover and the rest gets billed to the individual.
TC: How many companies have you signed up so far, and how much are you charging them?
DM: We just started selling commercially a month ago and have 20 companies signed up, which is pretty good. Companies don’t realize how much they’re paying between landlines and phone reimbursements and technologies to address [the BYOD trend], which many are now calling “bring your own disaster.”
As for revenue, we’re a software company so use a SaaS model and charge $30 per month per employee license. Then, because we do network integration, bundling network access and the device rental, we charge [an additional fee] that we think is very fair and allows us to make a reasonable return while delivering cost savings to companies.
TC: By integrating with Salesforce, you’re making it easier for employees to do things like one-click dialing, but you’re also capturing all their work-related call information. What about employees’ privacy?
DM: It’s one thing that sales reps are a little reluctant about, if they’ve been using their personal phone and have established that [personal] number with their clients. But there’s a bit of tension and frustration [on the part of employers, too], who haven’t had a good way to manage this. Companies want their employees to have and use a work number, so when that employee leaves, that soft [intellectual property] stays with the company.
TC: You’re working with Sprint alone at present. Are carriers concerned about you getting between them and their customers?
DM: We should be going live with a second carrier soon. When you look at the market right now, it’s relatively saturated. Carriers are competing on price more than anything else. So the ability to partner with a company like ours — which is really providing a differentiated product and experience and can drive more market share onto their network — is the reason carriers are interested in working with us.