In the mid-1990s, Farzin Arsanjani and his business partner, Kamyar Kaviani, invested in a little company with some interesting software that helps small businesses manage e-mail and share documents. Flush with venture funding and ambitious ideas, that start-up began giving away its original product, never made much money and eventually closed its doors.
But Arsanjani and Kaviani still believed there was a market for that technology, so in early 2002 they started another company, HyperOffice, to revive the information- technology product.
Last month, after two years of retooling the software, the Vienna company began trying to sell it. HyperOffice's product is similar to large enterprise applications, such as Lotus Notes. It manages e-mail and helps small businesses create Intranet portals where employees can collaborate on projects and store shared documents.
Employees of HyperOffice customers can log onto the system from an Internet connection with a user name and password. Clients can rebrand the portal and customize its functions.
"Some customers who are just getting started are viewing our product as a replacement for their whole IT infrastructure," Arsanjani said. The idea, he said, is to help small businesses "take advantage of the Internet and technology much the same way large companies have been doing for years."
Arsanjani said the company is targeting businesses with two to 150 employees, particularly those with workers in different locations, such as consulting firms.
And rather than ask small business to make a big initial investment in the technology, HyperOffice uses a pay-as-you-go model that charges about $5 per employee per month.