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Fortiva looking for one more Canadian platinum partner

After signing Bell, e-mail archiving service has found half the number of resellers it wants here

Wanted: One Canadian channel partner.

Requirements: A serious interest in selling an on-demand Exchange e-mail archiving solution from a Toronto-based service provider. You have several hundred million dollars in annual revenues and customers in the top 500 Canadian organizations.

Competitors here already selling the solution: Bell Canada.

Apply to: Fortiva Inc.

If that sounds like a steep wall to climb, Fortiva CEO Eric Goodwin, has no apologies.

He’s not looking to flood the market with resellers now that the three-year old company has decided to shift from selling its software as a service product direct and move to the channel.

Following the announcement Wednesday that the company has signed Bell Canada to resell its service, Goodwin said he’ll be looking for 12 more reseller partners around the world over the next 18 months, only one of which will be Canadian.

He’s also looking for up to 10 referral partners here who will get between 10 and 15 per cent of the monthly customer fee for successfully steering business Fortiva’s way.

“Our intent is to get as few partners as possible, but as much as necessary,” he said.

Fortiva was founded by Paul Chen, who created FloNetwork Inc., an on-demand direct marketing company bought by DoubleClick in 2001.

Goodwin had been CEO at the time of that purchase, went on to lead an Ottawa-based software tool maker before going into retirement, which included being Fortiva’s chairman.

However, in January, when the company decided it wanted to turn to the channel and increase its scale, the 65 year-old decided to move into the CEO’s chair.

“I guess I missed the action, he said.

Fortiva’s solution is strictly for Microsoft Exchange environments. At each customer’s site the company or its channel partners install a small server with software that links to a Microsoft Active Directory and encrypts the mail and attachments being stored, which is then forwarded to Fortiva’s data centre. The management system allows compliance with regulatory requirements. An open source-based search engine allows customers the ability to search messages in the archive.

The company charges between $3 and $4 per user a month, depending on the amount of storage the customer needs.

“I may sound very arrogant in terms of what our objectives are” in the number of channel partners he wants, Goodwin said, “and I may come to you in a year with bruised knees saying, ‘Gosh I was wrong.’ But I don’t believe I will.”

“Our focus is larger implementations,” he said, meaning organizations with at least 500 mailboxes.

Although there aren’t a lot of software as a service start-ups selling through the channel, Goodwin said, Fortiva believes the hosted e-mail archiving market will grow at a furious rate – almost 90 per cent, he said — to justify shifting to a reseller model.

The new Fortiva Alliance Network program has four levels (not including referral partners) – platinum, gold, silver and bronze. However, Goodwin said the company is only recruiting platinum resellers, who must have at least 10 trained sales reps and work with Fortiva on a business plan with quarterly forecasts.

Aside from Bell, Fortiva’s other platinum partners are in the U.S.: MessageLabs and Microsoft’s Managed Services Solutions division.

However, he said other platinum partners could include international systems integrators that could sell into Canada such as Accenture or BearingPoint.

Comment: cdnedit@itbusiness.ca