U.K.-based StarLeaf, which sells entirely through channel partners, has some in the U.S. and Canada, but is not well known in North America overall, and is hoping that this new device increases their exposure here.
Founded in 2008, StarLeaf is both a service provider and manufacturer, offering messaging and video conferencing services, as well as a broad range of video endpoints for meeting rooms, desktops and mobile devices. They make their hardware themselves, and design it to easily integrate with competitive services.
“What makes our endpoints really special is the cloud services they connect to,” said Will MacDonald, StarLeaf’s CTO. “Our cloud is comprehensive and powerful. We also sell everything completely through partners. That’s different from other cloud providers where the vendor does services.”
StarLeaf is strong in Europe, but is not that well-known in North America, although they have sold here for years.
“We are a very engineering-focused group, and haven’t spent a lot of time on marketing,” MacDonald said. “What marketing efforts we did do were in Europe. Our attention to North America is much more recent. So while we have always sold in North America, we never had the people or traction here to make an impact.”
StarLeaf defines itself as an enterprise vendor, although by American standards they would be considered more midmarket and the low end of the enterprise. They define their sweet spot as the 1000 to 5000 seat area.
“The business has always been 100 per cent channel, with the vast majority of our business having been brought in by partners rather than our own efforts,” MacDonald said. “A key reason why we have always been channel is that we sell hardware, rather than suggest that the customer use a PC, so we either needed to build a support organization for that, or rely on channel partners. The channel made more sense. Selling direct to end users in the U.S. would also require the ability to charge sales tax, which is a lot of paperwork.”
StarLeaf has several hundred partners across the world, but active ones represent the 80-20 rule. Their partners tend to come from the Pro/AV channel, specializing in digital signage as well as video.
“We have both large AV resellers, as well as smaller specialized ones as well,” MacDonald said. “The latter include Mercuri, a Burlington ON-based audio conferencing provider who took us on for their video component. Matrix Video Communications [based in Calgary, but with offices in eight Canadian cities] , would be a more traditional channel partner.”
StarLeaf deals directly with their key partners. They do use two-tier distribution, with ScanSource, but only for smaller partners or larger ones who just have a single customer and want a one-time opportunity.”
StarLeaf views Pronto as both an enhancement of its product line and as offering an opportunity to expand into broader markets. It is designed for a specific use case – facilitating quick video meeting and screen shares in meeting rooms, without the current issues experienced both through hardware and software solutions.
“When enterprises share content or have video meetings, they tend to do it wirelessly or with HDMI cable,” MacDonald stated. “Both have disadvantages. The wireless needs special software with can be complicated. Cable is easier, but different PCs need different connects, so you have a bunch of dongles and a mess of wires. Some systems use a ClickShare to a USB port, but that has to boot up and takes 30-40 seconds.”
The smart dual connector supports both USB-A and USB-C and works with all Windows and Mac laptop computers, with all data transmission encrypted when sharing for enterprise-grade security.
“With StarLeaf Pronto, we came up with a USB cable that can plug in to any laptop, with that action making the software run so that it immediately displays,” MacDonald continued. “It takes two seconds. It gives the user the experience of cable and the control of wireless.”
StarLeaf Pronto is available now.