Hosted e-mail for channel resale

Published: November 21st, 2006

“We host, we manage, we support the dealers,” said Gus Harsfai, president of Toronto’s Ceryx Inc. “It’s almost like getting a business in a box.”
Its product, called ThinOffice, can be branded and overseen by resellers. Partners get Customer Centre, Web-based administrative control panel allowing them to manage the customer relationship by performing functions such as adding users and changing passwords.ThinOffice comes in two flavours: The full version, which carries a suggested price between $17.99 and $19.99 per seat includes an Outlook client for each user, all collaboration and calendaring features and Exchange messaging services such as Active Sync and BlackBerry connectivity; and the Lite version, which has a suggested price of $7.99 to $8.99 per users, has only Web-based Outlook access and does not offer shared calendars.

“Based on our recommended resale price they can get 35 to 40 per cent margin,” said executive vice-president Bill DiNardo. Because this is very much a premier platform, they could probably do even better than that if they choose to go higher priced.”

Pilot test
One company that has pilot-tested the offering is One Connect Services Inc., a Toronto-based hosted voice over IP and data provider.

The company could have put together its own hosted e-mail service, said Mark Palma, the company’s director of engineering, but “it’s not in our short-term plans. In partnering with an entity like Ceryx we are able to meet the short-term requirements of our customers, still make a little bit of margin but offer what I would consider a best-of-breed platform.”

Ceryx has a two-level partner program. Reseller partners just want to sell the product as is, while Premier partners are willing to pay for customization to get tight integration of the Ceryx offering into their billing and order entry systems. In return they get customer leads, better product pricing and engineering support.

DiNardo said ideal partners for ThinOffice are VARs already offering hosted solutions. He’s also hoping to sign up resellers in verticals such as property management and finance. DiNardo wants to control the number of resellers Ceryx signs across the country limiting the number of partners in verticals as well as holding the number to two or three in each major Canadian city.

However, it already has an agreement with Rogers Wireless, which is offering ThinOffice to its dealers across the country for resale.

Ceryx began some 17 years ago as an e-mail consulting firm to enterprises founded by Harsfai called NRG.

In 2001 the name changed to 800onemail when it began specializing in hosted Exchange and business continuity services. In 2004 that company was merged with ThinOffice, an e-mail messaging provider headed by DiNardo.