08/13/2012 Doubling as a
virtual business space giving entrepreneurs a 'presence' anywhere in
Jamaica and a mini call centre, My Virtual Office (MVO), itself a new
start-up, offers the opportunity for companies and individuals to conduct business without the stiff overheads.
MVO, which started operations officially last year with an initial set- up cost exceeding US$60,000, offers business services to individuals without a physical office or a budget to afford one.
Its services range from supplying the business individual with phone numbers, mobile extensions, fax services, phone service answered in the company's name, as well as Internet and messaging services, starting at a basic monthly cost of $8,000.
The services are meant to assist persons wanting the business image of running an office, giving the impression that the individual is in fact operating from a set location in Jamaica even if physically placed elsewhere.
MVO managing director Sharon Murray said the concept is a growing trend in Europe and the United States where more people are staying at home to operate their businesses.
The service also saves on staff cost since MVO offers some clerical functions.
"You don't have to worry about the staff not turning up," said Murray.
"If it is faxed we receive it for our clients and it is re-mailed or sent to the client," she said. A similar thing is done for emails. Calls to the business are answered even after regular business hours.
Murray told Sunday Business that she decided to offer the service after one of her partners realised that large companies including many telecommunication providers, were purchasing technology so that more of their employees could answer their calls.
She said while big corporations could afford the queuing technology it was not easily afforded by the average company.
That gap, Murray said, was MVO's opportunity to create and service a niche market.
My Virtual Office is on Ruthven Road in St. Andrew, employing eight full-time staff. Also behind the venture are Eugene Ffolkes and Gary Evelyn.
Murray said the service could save start-up entrepreneurs at least $75,000 per month, assuming average monthly rent expense of $30,000, salary to receptionist of $25,000 and utilities billed at $20,000.
"We are your office everywhere. We give you a point of presence in Jamaica, wherever you are," she said.
MVO's target market, she says, is young start-ups and persons without a physical office.
My Virtual Office is "for any individual who wants the flexibility and continuity of running an office and a big corporate image giving the impression that you are employed and employing people," she said.
Technology plays a major role in My Virtual Office's operation. Having invested in the Cisco AVVID platform, Murray said the company has its own voice-over Internet protocol equipment and does not rely on Cable and Wireless Jamaica for phone or Internet services.
"We partner with a local fibre wireless provider to provide a wireless phone service for employers and staff and a few remote members of staff from remote locations," she said referring to Telegens Limited.
MVO provides its clients with a landline phone and a mobile extension so they can stay within the network.
"The service can act as a mini call centre where we take the calls here for the client and dispatch from here and provide a U.S. number for them to call if the client resides in the United States," said Murray giving an example of how the service operates. "People hate dialling a number with no one at the other end so we allow that not to happen. We will take any call and dispatch it back out to a number assigned to and which answers in the company's name."
MVO's service incorporates both local and foreign clients, and answers calls for the Jamaican diaspora in Florida.
"We even guided persons, some directors who were lost, on their way to their meeting in Pembroke," she said.
"Within this year we are looking to put on a good 1,500 to 2,000 people by the end of the year," referring to expected business growth, but declined to say how many clients MVO has signed up to date.
Although the business is open to new ideas and suggestions from its clients, said Murray, there are some services it will not it will not provide.
"We won't type your letters. We are not even anxious to take orders; that is too complicated," she said.
Neither does the company route blind calls.
"We get a synopsis of what our company or client do to protect ourselves," she noted
MVO is currently negotiating an alliance with a US corporation which is to provide it with point of presence anywhere in the US, United Kingdom or Canada, said the MD, and is soon to launch that service.
This means that a Jamaican company could, for example, now have an United Kingdom number as if it were physically placed there.
Murray says her service is ideal for those persons who want to test the market without taking on the cost of setting up something permanent.
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