Digital IQ story on Sendside: Building a better email.

nospam2Digital IQ ran this story on Sendside: Building a better email.

We are in our new office space and it's quite a step up.

"Down a meandering hallway diffused with fluorescent lighting, in a squat two-story 1980s office complex like the one where your dentist works, is the door to Sendside Networks, Inc. Through that door you won’t find a sleek reception desk, a backlit logo, modern art, or anything else that says, “Welcome to a cutting-edge corporation, to the offices of a company that is changing the way you do business!” Rather, guests are greeted by…The Wall of Shame. Not papered with finger-pointing posters nagging you to quit smoking or gambling or visiting certain unsavory Websites – no – the red-faced source of this wall is mail. Ordinary U.S. mail and envelopes from FedEx and the like. From ceiling to baseboard, a crate’s worth of catalogs and cardboard dangles from tacks like scarlet letters.

“Our wall of shame is merely a two-week example of mail we’ve received here in the office,” says William Borghetti, CEO of Sendside. It is all mail that the company wants to be sent via the Internet and the “channel” Sendside is creating, a new category of electronic communication that promises to be highly secure, interactive and productive.

Imagine a week (or month) of your mail or, to save time, let’s talk about mine: Numerous statements from credit cards and banks. Reports and updates from my financial advisor and mutual funds. A delightful, lengthy exchange with the Veterans’ Administration over a relative’s benefits, requiring copiers and additional machinery. Queries from an insurance company that demand written responses.

Now picture all of this happening online, safely, without a hitch, knowing you received, they received – done and done. Envision a secure portal to interact and transact with all of these individuals and institutions – folks of your choosing whom you know and trust – through which you can accept, sign and return large documents. View statements and make payments without additional passwords and the click-click-click of following link after link or logging in to other Websites. Attach e-signed power of attorney papers and shoot them to the federal government and know they were recieved without interception. This is what Sendside Networks is creating – a gigantic, secure pneumatic tube from you to your sources and back.

Sendside’s network isn’t designed for all mail, but for the “layers that matter,” says Geoff Kahler, the company’s VP of marketing and sales. It’s not for protecting pictures of your pet fish and sharing with everyone on your mailing list. “Will the network entirely replace traditional email?” Kahler asks. “Not in the short term. It’s more likely to become an immediate replacement for paper-based communication,” a way to avoid the mailbox and the FedEx guy, saving billions in paper and mailing costs, including losses due to fraud, scams and lost productivity.

The idea for Sendside Networks, Inc. was hatched a couple of years ago, when, Borghetti says, “the light bulb came on for us” while going through mail and paying bills. “You may log onto your bank…so the bank has that going for it, in that you will initiate the self-service mode, but no one wants to log into the County of Salt Lake. No one wants to log into their accountant’s Web service, or lawyer’s.”

Borghetti continues, “Overall, [Sendside] is a way of restoring a two-way balance to communication in many respects. The organizations we’re talking to – not just banks, but credit card companies, insurance companies, law firms – they want to be able to send confidential information quickly, easily, cost-effectively. And the only way to do that is FedEx, U.S. Mail or the online ‘come and get it’ method, meaning there’s something important for you but you’ve got to log in and get it.”

The “come and get it” method of delivery of information – an email from your bank notifying you that your new statement is available when you click your mouse twice and type the magic words – is where a lot of time on the Web is wasted. Yes, the fact that we can pay bills online, securely, is more than we could do a decade ago, but has email and secure communication really come that far? Borghetti says no. “The world today, electronically, is a frenetic work-around to email’s shortcomings. Email encryption is a classic example of bolting on something that should be scrambled and non-viewable in transit anyways.” 

Email, or really the Internet, promised a lot of things in the beginning. Weren’t we going to save billions of trees back then because we wouldn’t be needing pesky old printers anymore, or moth-eaten books? It’s more likely (hasn’t someone out there done a study?) that we’re now able to work and produce and waste paper more rapidly than ever. Who doesn’t still subscribe to the Sunday paper, just because it feels good to open and flip and fold up each section when finished? But no one enjoys reading a financial statement (maybe some people do) or legal contracts over a cup of coffee. These are items we want to deal with as quickly, securely and professionally as possible and this is what Sendside is all about.

“We’re often misunderstood,” says Borghetti. “Is this a security thing? Is this an encryption company? What is Sendside Networks? It’s really none of those things. The heart of Sendside is being a trusted network providing the technology to allow organizations to connect to each other but also to connect to individuals. It’s not just secure email. There are a lot of secure email solutions out there, but they’re a pain in the butt for the consumer. We are creating a multi-faceted way of presenting information that is unique and novel and had never been done before.”

As founder of other technology-based companies including Campus Pipeline, a Web platform for universities that Borghetti started in his garage, the man is no stranger to new territory or the state’s start-up scene.

Jeff Barson, founder of Surface Medical, entrepreneur, networker of CEOs, blogger and “Chief Evangelist” for Sendside (according to his LinkedIn profile) writes, “William seems to be the group’s entrepreneur in residence and I find myself agreeing with him completely regarding his views with the state of startups in Utah. While it takes only a small amount of wine [to] get William’s views of the Utah capital markets and the way they work, I couldn’t agree more…William’s also philosophically inclined to give back, which I find refreshing. He’s got some good policies including buy-me-lunch-and-I’ll-tell-you-stuff, and no-need-to-call-in-on-powder-days.”

Still in the audit phase, Sendside Networks is up and running today and offering three products or levels of service. The first is, designed for individuals and available free of charge but by invitation only. Sendside Professional was developed for small- and medium-sized businesses, and for large organizations with millions of customers, there is Sendside Enterprise.

And while pricing for the professional versions is yet to be determined, Kahler says it will be a “no-brainer, approachable” alternative to the costs of regular mail and courier/shipping services. “We have an organization in California that needs to distribute quarterly updates to contracts to 850 providers at a cost of probably $25 per FedEx and usually the guy on the other side is sending a FedEx back with the signed contract, so they have a paper copy that they can shove in a file,” he says. “Why not give that organization a license, if you will, to send as much information as they want to that organization, quarterly updates, etc. for $25 a year, per customer? We’ve reduced their costs by 75 percent.”

Now, that would inspire a significant clearing of anyone’s wall of shame. In Sendside’s case, their wall may be disappearing altogether, unless someone plans to reinstall it in the company’s new modern office space in the East Cottonwood area of Salt Lake City."