Where would the world be without the Blackberry? The wonderful device lets users do everything they would do as if they were in front of their computer – almost everything. While the Blackberry is great in many ways, until Onset Technology came along, the device didn’t allow users to open up attachments or access files from desktops.
Over the last six years, Onset has changed its business model and has been working on its technology. The Santa Cruz, Calif.-based company’s effort has paid off. It just received $2 million in a Series C round from Israel-based Catalyst Fund LP and a $1 million line of credit from Technology and Life Sciences Division of Comerica for general working purposes.
“There was very little you could do with a wireless device; all you could was email. Because of Onset now you can open attachments and access files and databases. We figured out how to open attachments a year and half ago. You used to be able to see you had an attachment but couldn’t access it,” says Stewart Fox, vice president of sales and marketing for Onset. “Since then we’ve expanded and added more functionality. You can now browse networks, grab files and send files. You can now do everything on the road.”
In 1997, Onset started out as an optical carrier recognition (OCR) technology company. Research In Motion, the maker of Blackberry, which was an Onset customer, noticed that Onset had technology that would easily translate to wireless devices. So Onset created a new platform about two years ago. “They were right. It was easy to tweak our model to do what we are doing now and we now have over 60,000 users,” says Fox. Almost all – 99% – of the users are Blackberry customers, since Blackberry is really the only wireless email device.
“Lots of companies have announced plans to get into the space so I expect there to be more in the next six months or so. We are already working with those potential customers so we can get our product to the end users,” says Fox. “We can support all platforms.”
To date, Onset has collected $16.5 million. Its first round was for $1 million and came from a strategic investor that was involved in OCR. Onset’s second round was for $9.5 million and was led by Intel Capital. Then, the company did a $3 million internal round about two years ago when it changed its business model.
The proceeds from the latest round will be used to support Onset’s recent acquisition of Wireless Onramp, best known for its efficient forms-based user interface designs. The company brings Onset a number of customers, including National Service Industries, Cingular Wireless and Intercontinental Exchange.
While Onset is not actively looking for more acquisition targets, it isn’t against acquiring companies if the opportunity arises. Additionally, the company is seeing revenue and expects to breakeven by next calendar year.
Contact Danielle Fugazy