SmartPoint gets $5.1 million for two-way alert services

BOULDER – Before the year is out, SmartPoint Inc. expects to offer a way for financial service organizations and other businesses to distribute timely information to clients; and a way for clients to immediately respond.

The application service, which has not yet been given a name, will enable users to receive messages how and when they need them, and to respond to the information however they choose — either by telephone, cell phone, e-mail or palm-held computer. The service will be sold to businesses, which in turn will present the service as its own to clients.

SmartPoint of Boulder, incorporated in 1998, recently received $5.1 million of second-round venture capital from iBelay to help launch it two-way alert notification service. iBelay is a Boulder-based Internet holding company that provides financial and advisory support to high-tech start-ups in Colorado.

Alert notification systems such as two-way pagers have been around for the past decade, but this system will communicate with more than one device and provide current information, said David Henderson, Smart Point’s president and chief executive officer since the first of the year. Using advanced Java and XML technologies, the application will gather and analyze current information from a variety of sources, and then provide the means to directly respond. The service could be used by brokerage houses, airlines, travel agencies, auctioneers, delivery companies. This kind of two-way notification system hasn’t been offered to date, Henderson said.

Financial institutions could notify clients about the price change of a stock or commodity, change of a mortgage rate or update on a loan being processed, and clients could send in an immediate response, Henderson said. Auctioneers could provide price changes in the final minutes of an auction and a counter-bid could be submitted; airlines could notify travelers of delayed or canceled flights, and fliers could wait out the delay at home or reschedule; and service and repair firms could notify customers about last-minute scheduling changes. Customer fees haven’t been determined, Henderson said.

Henderson would not disclose revenue projections. But he said the alert notification services market is huge and will grow rapidly. According to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, a worldwide investment and merchant bank, there will be 81 million wireless data users in the United States by 2002 and 128.5 million by 2004.

SmartPoint, which has 40 employees, will use part of the $5.1 million to hire at least 30 more engineers, business development and account staff before year end, Henderson said. The company will use the rest of the money to market its service and move its headquarters from 4894 Sterling Drive to the Santas Building, 3125 Sterling Circle at the end of August.

Rod Campbell, David Andrus and Tad Frysinger came up with the idea in 1997 and recently formed a management team that has an average 19 years experience in high-tech. Henderson was formerly president of @tlantis, Excite@home’s interactive television marketing company. Mark Calkins will head marketing efforts, drawing from 24 years of experience with Sun Microsystems, Novell and WordPerfect. Frysinger will serve as vice president of engineering. Brian Stern will head business development, and Thomas S. Plunkett will lead operations and oversee finances.

Pete Estler, founder and managing director of iBelay, said the United States is just starting to aggressively pursue the wireless game. “SmartPoint is well-positioned to capitalize on the growth within the industry,” he said in a statement. “It is leveraging an experienced management team and strong technology platform to develop services that allow mobile devices to be productive tools.”

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