MyFax, the Internet fax service provider, has proven that you don’t necessarily have to invent an entirely new product to be successful. Instead, you can use the old and turn it into something new. MyFax took an old technology – faxing – and made it work better by allowing users to send and receive faxes on their PCs, laptops and PDAs rather than having to use a fax machine.
Joseph Nour and Simon Nehme started MyFax in 1997 using their own funds. One of the reasons they chose faxing was they realized nearly everyone else had discounted it. Keep in mind that 1997 was about the time that email was being hailed as the “killer app” for communication. The conventional wisdom held that faxing was obsolete, and would soon be completely replaced by email.
Yet Nour and Nehme saw that fax machines were being sold at a higher clip than ever, and more pages of faxes were being sent than ever. The big limitation, though, was the fax machine itself.
Nour and Nehme realized that faxing through a machine that was tied to a phone line and fixed to one place didn’t fit the changing business atmosphere, which was more focused on mobility and “computing everywhere.” So they developed the technology to allow users to send and receive faxes through their PCs, laptops or even mobile devices from anywhere they could get an Internet connection.
They weren’t the only ones to come to this conclusion. When they started there were a lot of little Internet faxing operations. Most, however, were little basement operations with questionable customer service at best. So MyFax distinguished itself by investing in technology and creating a world-class customer service operation. Today, you can call their help line 24 x 7 x 365 and speak to a live human being who knows the product inside and out, and will help you solve any issues. You can also email the company or use their online chat function to get answers.
From its humble start, MyFax has grown to more 220 employees serving more than 300,000 subscribers, and they’re looking to add more of both. The parent company, Protus, is now a $50 million business (according to published reports) with two other products as well – my1voice, a virtual phone service for small business, and Campaigner, an opt-in email marketing campaign management tool for small business. It is headed toward 40 percent growth this year.
One other thing of note is the pricing, which has made them fairly recession-proof. A basic MyFax account costs just $10 per month. Companies that need faxing capabilities even now and then aren’t going to look at a $10 a month expense first. Those who fax every day (and there are lots of them) consider it an essential part of the business. They’d no sooner cut their MyFax account than their phone service – especially when it’s actually less expensive to keep MyFax than to bring in another phone line.
As MyFax has shown, it is important to understand the trends and create a business where the market is headed. MyFax saw the need for an increasingly mobile workforce to be able send and receives faxes when they’re away from the office, and then built a successful company around it.