Spring brings many things, warm weather, girls in sundresses and angels. That’s right, this May Tropo will join AngelHack on their 2013 world hackathon tour!
Not only is this the largest hackathon competition in the world with over 6,000 hackers in 30 cities but these angels also take the winners of each city and put them in a 12 week accelerator program then introduce them to Silicon Valley investors. Talk about a heavenly gig!
If you are in San Francisco, AngelHack will be here on Saturday and Sunday May 4th & 5th and you can register here. Not in the Bay Area, no problem. Check out the many other cities and Spring dates you can participate in. If you’re coming to the SF AngelHack, we’ll see you there with wings on.
Last week we had great fun visiting Manila with the Globe Labs team for Globe Labs Developer Day, where they previewed their new Voice API powered by Tropo. Globe is the latest of the world’s leading telecom operators to open up the Tropo API to their developers. As you may recall, Deutsche Telekom’s Developer Garden launched the Telekom Tropo API last summer, followed by the launch of AT&T’s Call Management API (powered by Tropo) in January of this year.
Following the success of last weekend’s Developer Day, Globe Labs has now announced the Globe Labs Voice API Challenge 2013. The Globe Labs Voice API Challenge 2013 is a call-for-apps program which aims to provide incentives for developers to build new and innovative apps that leverage voice capabilities using the Globe Labs Voice APIs.
Developers will have the chance to receive P50,000.
Globe Labs Voice API Challenge is open to all individuals and companies registered with the Globe Labs Developer Community. Registration can be done on-line via the Globe Labs Developer Portal (https://www.globelabs.com.ph). Participants can be individuals or teams.
Developers can join the program by submitting your app idea / proposal via this Voice API Challenge proposal form , and submitting it along with the other requirements via email firstname.lastname@example.org or via snail mail on or before April 29, 2013.
For more information, visit the the Globe Labs website:
Well if you didn’t actually become an astronaut now is your chance to live out your fantasy at the International Space Apps Challenge this weekend on April 20th and 21st.
This international collaboration is held in 83 cities all over the world and you can find Troponauts, Cristina and Johnny Diggz, participating in San Francisco and all the way over in Krakow!
This exploration of space uses problem solving with open-source solutions to both life on Earth and life in space. Join a team and provide solutions for challenges including developing a greenhouse for missions on the moon and underwater robots that explore where no human can go, there is something spectacular for everyone.
You may not have gone to space camp but now you can join thousands of others to help provide a collaborative solution to advance space exploration and improve the quality of life on Earth.
Besides Krakow’s famous Gothic and Renaissance architecture it is now becoming famous for its killer tech conferences and communities.
This April, the cool kids at Applicake are putting on two conferences, Railsberry, The European Rails Conference on April 23rd-24th. And with a different twist than last year. They will be challenging Rails developers to focus on everything BUT Rails. A conference for the curious. If you have yet to see the legendary Railsberry Grand Finale performed by our own Johnny Diggz last year, you must watch and see just why he had a standing ovation!
And just days before on April 18th-19th they will host Mobile Mobile Conf , a conference for developers, designers, creatives and creators out there who LOVE mobile.
Learn everything from Appanomics to Why Marketing Ain’t Bullshit with a big balloon party at the end. You don’t want to miss this!
If Diggz did a finale last year that even made it onto Github, who knows what he will do this year and with TWO conferences!
If there’s anyone up for the challenge, he is.
By May Yip
Alan Quayle is well known in the communications API space, and he’s been chatting with our customers about their experiences with Tropo and Phono. We’ve reprinted his recent weblog entitled Tropo’s Secret Sauce about his interview with Frank Geck, Director of Tropo Sales.”
Tropo’s Secret Sauce by Alan Quayle
Voxeo Labs continues to give me free reign across their customers to chat about their experiences in running their businesses on Telecom APIs; such as myaNUMBER, Crunched, TeleSmart and there are many more weblogs to come. It’s a wonderful experience to see real businesses built on telecoms APIs and those businesses loving it. Love is a common theme, from the interviews with Voxeo Labs’ customers, I’d go as far as to say they have a fair bit of love for what Voxeo Labs is doing for them, it’s beyond happy. So I took the opportunity to chat with Frank Geck, Director of Tropo Sales at Voxeo Labs who’s been letting me at their customer, to better understand how they’ve made it happen.
AQ: “What does Tropo do to makes its customers so enthusiastic about Telecom APIs?”
Frank: That’s easy, Tropo is carrier grade. Now, it’s easy to make the claim, so let me point to the direct objective evidence to back up that claim. Carriers worldwide have selected the Tropo platform for their developer community, such as AT&T and Deutsche Telekom. Their requirements are exacting to say the least, and we exceed them. Another fact, the software that manages our audio/voice/messaging processes over 80,000 concurrent conversations on a daily basis. It’s a scale unmatched in the industry for communication APIs. A reason you’re talking to such happy customers is many of our customer wins came to us when prompted by problems on other platforms. We came to the rescue just as their business was ramping up and problems started to seriously impact their business’s growth. And finally Tropo is design for best performance, it’s built by a team that brings decades of experience in cloud communications, none of our competitors can match our depth of experience.
AQ: “Support is a significant source of satisfaction with your customers, TeleSmart being a good example, how are you doing it?”
Frank: Our customers are running their business on Tropo, we have to be there 24*7. Technical support is free to all customers because of the confidence we have in our platform, while its paid on competitors because they are not as confident. And support is not just about problems, it’s about innovation, we have a technical account management team that helps customers do more with Tropo, Phono, Ameche and all the capabilities we’re constantly adding. When our customers are successful so are we, as TeleSmart and Crunched clearly demonstrate.
AQ: “In some of the interviews your customers mentioned Tropo has the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO), can you explain what they mean?”
Frank: Evaluating the cost of a service isn’t as simple as looking at pricing terms on a web page. And, for many customers they are new to telecommunications applications, so it’s a challenge to evaluate their choices. When I talk to a customer I show them what all the considerations are in their business decision. When you consider technical support, application functionality, value of a high quality network – we typically see savings of 20-40% over anyone else in the market. We’re not trying to be the lowest cost vendor in the market – we’re trying to be the best overall value. For start ups, it’s even more critical. The rule of thumb is that it takes seven times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep an old one. Start ups invest heavily in customer acquisition. We also know that a poor experience results in losing potential customers. So you’re a start up – you’ve had a great launch at a trade show and now a percentage of your callers don’t have a good experience. Would you rather have selected a carrier grade platform or saved fifty dollars a monthly in fees?
If a customer has 100,000 voice minutes or more a month, we’ll put together a package that provides significant savings compared to the others in the market. We don’t hide fees, everything is upfront. And critically costs associated with poor quality are massive, as it impacts your brand, revenues, and distracts the organization from the prime objective of excellent customer service. If you care about your customers’ experience, then you have to consider if saving a few hundred dollars a month is worth it. All this comes together to deliver the lowest TCO in the industry.
AQ: “Another common theme was the confidence customer have in Tropo as a partner into the future, where is that coming from?”
AQ: “Are there any other secret sauce recipes you think are important?”
Frank: We’re truly international. We have local telephone numbers in more than forty countries which gives us the best global coverage. We support twenty-four speech recognition languages. We have speech to text voices in twenty-four languages twenty-four speech recognition languages- and more options in US English than anyone else giving developers and user interface designers the most choices. We’ve been SIP from day one – just just adding it later. We’re free for development to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get started. All these features and options are important when evaluating a SaaS platform because you may not know today what you need in the future but you can rest assured that Voxeo Labs will have it for you when you need it.
On April 13, 2013 key members of the Voxeo Labs team, our CTO Jose de Castro and Chief Developer Evangelist Johnny ‘Diggz’ Higgins will be sharing how to power up your application with Voice API.
The event will be held from 9am-5pm at the Globe Corporate Showroom, Ground Floor, Valero Telepark, # 111, Valero Street, Makati City (venue Map). Tickets are available now and you must reserve a seat for Globe Labs Developer Day.
Bring your laptop and join in for the hands on session and mini hackathon and you might just get Globe premium items!
TeleSmart was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon. TeleSmart offers custom-tailored call routing and IVR solutions. They’ve processed over 78 million customer calls serving thousands of clients. They are the largest independent provider of vanity numbers in North America, with over 25k such numbers under management. In today’s web-centric world we may think such services are declining in usage, they are not, with the rise in ecommerce, traffic on vanity numbers continues to grow.
TeleSmart’s services cover IVR, toll-free, call routing, tracking, and reporting services to businesses, all these services run on Tropo. It’s an archetype for why running your business on Tropo makes business sense. TeleSmart focuses on keeping its customers happy with great service, while Tropo focuses on running TeleSmart’s network, the most reliable and best supported Telecom API available.
Brian Lynott, CEO and Owner of TeleSmart, has this advice for other businesses looking at Telecom APIs:
“You don’t have to own everything. Running a network distracts you from customer service. Tropo focuses on providing the most reliable network and the best support. Seriously they respond to my questions in minutes, it’s wonderful, they share ideas that improve my business. And we can focus on delivering the best service and best support to our customers.”
TeleSmart’s speech recognition IVR provides 24 x 7 access for field staff reporting. Using their survey builder tools, customers can create project-specific questions including audio comment attachments. They can even assign new phone numbers in minutes or password-protect access to their service. Simply call the toll free number and use simple voice commands to interact with advanced project reporting. The questionnaire can be as detailed as required, with the callers simply voicing their responses to queues.
“All levels of our organization have access to configure the service, and we encourage and help our customers get in and configure their service for themselves. Everyone’s empowered to deliver what the customer wants, and Tropo makes this possible. Compare this to the large Telcos, if you call them most will not know they offer such IVR services, and forget about on a call to set up the service making any type of customization then and there. With TeleSmart it’s how we do business every day.”
TeleSmart’s SmartECR™ (Smart Enhanced Call Routing) is a sophisticated, network-based call router supporting applications ranging from simple informational messages played to the caller, to sophisticated caller interaction applications based on menus and databases. Their SmartECR™ telephone network routes calls to customer locations based on data such as: Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS); Automatic Number Identification (ANI); or caller-input Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) telephone keypad entries. Their services are delivered from our proprietary IVR (Interactive Voice Response) platform, running on Tropo.
“Back in 2008 we started the migration to the cloud. We needed a partner that would work with us in delivering the best possible customer service. Voxeo Labs has proved to a wise choice, we’ve worked together over the years creating new and innovative applications using Tropo that keep our customers’ delighted. And critically it’s a platform that has unmatched reliability, while those running on Amazon were down for a day, our service kept on running. When a computer network goes down people accept it, it’s been that way for decades. But when a phone call cannot be made, people do not accept that and get angry. Voxeo Labs brings the best of Data and Telecoms together.”
On Brian’s future plans, “We have only a few percent of the Vanity Numbers here in North America, there are millions of them. We can grow our North American market significantly over the coming years. With Voxeo Labs, we are looking into international markets, where we can bring our rich portfolio of applications built on the Tropo API and our intense customer focus to disrupt less competitive markets.” Tropo has helped accelerate TeleSmart’s business.
“In running your business on Telecom APIs, your choice of partner is critical. Spend the time to talk with other customers of the potential partner, as well as talk to the support people and CEO about your business and its needs, we did and we’re so pleased we took that time. It will give you the confidence to let Voxeo Labs focus on what they do best, so you can be best at what you do. For us its delivering an uncommonly seductive offer in custom-tailored call routing and IVR solutions.”
It’s difficult to keep up with all the chaos surrounding SXSW in Austin, but the Tropo team has a few ways that you can keep up with the action.
Our favorite intrepid photographer, Michael O’Donnell, is racing around to all the best events and parties with his trusty Cannon 5D, capturing the best moments of SXSW, which immediate get uploaded to his SmugMug account (using an Eyefi Wifi SD card and a 4g AT&T data stream). Follow the photo stream here: Live with @Photo sponsored by Tropo
Catch Bravo celebrity, Hermione Way as she broadcasts live daily from the Villa Austin. The Villa Austin live stream will be hosting panels, discussions, gossip, and insider info to where all the best parties are. Monday afternoon we’ll be spotlighting Tropo startups, or check out the whole schedule here. You can tune in via Ustream, or just go to http://villa.io.
The Villa Austin Livestream
Mobile World Congress 2013 is the once a year event where the world of Mobile Telecoms comes together to share ideas for 4+ days in Barcelona. The event runs from Monday-Thursday, but meetings start on the Sunday, so really its 5 non-stop days of meetings throughout the day and into the evening events. For a small, innovative company like Voxeo Labs, which is only just starting to get its message out on Tropo, Ameche and Phono, there is no better place to be.
MWC was held in a new location, and with 72k attendees, up 5k from last year, it’s good they moved. Voxeo Labs was being demonstrated in several network equipment provider booths. We had an off-site meeting room, and were holding meetings throughout the event. We were even having operator meetings in the open air networking locations where the temperature felt close to freezing because of wind-chill. We were helping out at the AT&T and Ericsson ‘Hack for Good’, and at Deutsche Telekom’s Telekom Tropo Hackathon, where developers were using the AT&T Call Management API powered by Tropo and the Telekom Tropo APIs for their services. Those developers that ported their apps from the AT&T API to the Telekom API found it easy as they’re both based on Tropo.
Several of the operators we met described Voxeo Labs’ demonstrations as “the most innovative thing they saw at MWC.” An analyst described Voxeo Labs as, “a beacon to the future of the industry.”
By the numbers: we had 168 operator presentations and demos; and 55 partner, analyst, and press meetings. Spreading the Voxeo Labs message to over 670+ people we met face-to-face during the event. We had a visit with 15 people from one global operator including the CEO, CMO, and CTO to see our demonstration. No other conference could deliver this level of contact across the mobile industry.
The key to the success in being able to meet with so many people at the show can be attributed to the demos we had running in the telecommunications infrastructure providers’ stands. The demos included in-call services such as as in-call voice assistant performing call recording and speech to text conversion all in real-time during the call using the power of your voice. Other demonstrations including integration with Salesforce.com, so a sales person on their existing phone number can logs all their customer calls automatically. Additional features include: call recording, text transcription, and recording a voice note after the customer call is complete.
At the AT&T and Ericsson “Hack for Good”, we assisted developers that used the AT&T Call Management API powered by Tropo. The winner of the Ericsson “Hack for Good” was HelpMapp, their app allows people in a big city to connect to other people in real time who may need their help. The help can be anything from emergency support, to medical assistance to food and transport.
At the Deutsche Telekom Hackathon; the focus was the Telekom Tropo API. Twenty developer groups were set a number of tasks to complete with using the Telekom Tropo API. We assisted developers at this event, several developers moved their apps from the ATT hackathon to the DT hackathon, and as both carriers offer the Tropo API it was easy for the developers.
Overall a great event to show to the industry the power of services enabled on Tropo, Ameche and Phono; and have the top network equipment providers representing over 80% of the mobile market as partners. Now it’s heads down for the rest of the year to deliver.