The Silicon Review
Established in 2002 by Patricia Mathis and Vladimir Smelyansky, XCastLabs’ engineering team was an innovator in unified communications long before. The LA-company’s visionary team was directly responsible for the world’s first digital personal assistant and its founding engineers were amongst the very first to showcase the power of speech recognition technology to the world in the 1990s.
In 2020, XCast is a pioneer and a master innovator in VoIP technologies. We recently interviewed Patricia Mathis, Executive Chairman and Founder of XCast Labs. She gave us a unique insight into the innovations underway at XCast.
Q. Tell us about the successful journey of your company.
The XCast Labs engineering team has a long history of developing disruptive technology. In the mid-1990s, I created a Chicago-based company to develop the first Voice-driven Personal Assistant. One of the teams in that company was also exploring analog replacement and actually installed the first softswitch in a major carrier around 2000. A dozen talented engineers from that project reconvened in 2002 to focus solely on developing the pioneering technology we now call Voice-Over-the-Internet. That is the foundation of XCastLabs. In eighteen months, the platform was ready to begin offering services in the Midwest. The intellectual and creative force behind this development was co-Founder Vladimir Smelyanky and the talented engineering team he has led ever since.
XCastLabs offers the full suite of Hosted PBX and SIP trunking services to small and midsized business. We also offer a highly intelligent wholesale platform that supports dozens of American carriers as well as call centers serving numerous vertical markets, predominantly in the United States. Our technology also supports our clients and customers with a proprietary integrated back office system.
Q. How robust and flexible are your telecommunications services?
The lack of third-party licensing fees not only allows XCast to have an unconventionally low cost of operations but also an uncommon flexibility in introducing new features or services dictated by business needs. The XCast platform is designed to scale from a single server handling thousands of users to multi-server clusters serving millions. The XCast engineers–all pioneers in the VoIP space– wrote the code and all core components of the technology from the ground up. So, we really have no “learning curve” when we need to build a new product. We just need either a customer request or an innovation that we might consider disruptive.
Q. Powerful and scalable telecommunication services come with an expensive price tag. How do you manage to maintain your service affordability and profitability?
XCast Labs has designed and developed every aspect of its technology solution in-house.
We can quickly address customers’ needs and requirements without any dependence on outside vendors—which means no licensing fees. This means that we can develop products on our own platform without incurring a lot of additional overhead cost.
Importantly, our business base is very stable. It is a rarity when a customer leaves our platform.
When they do, it is usually when someone has acquired their company who has their own favorite provider. It is not unusual for that company to return to our platform the first chance they get.
Also, we do not spend millions of dollars on marketing. We have operated on the philosophy that by doing good work and serving our customers’ needs, our reputation would propel our growth.
Q. Although VoIP technology has been touted as a communications cure-all by many small-to-midsized businesses, integrative complexity and security vulnerabilities will remain a challenge. How do you manage to deal with these challenges?
This is a very important issue. Integration of nascent technologies is no small undertaking for engineering teams. At XCastLabs, we carefully scrutinize what new technologies would be most beneficial to the largest number of businesses we serve. Our direct dialogue with our customers is constant. We do not believe that every shiny new penny will have ultimate value. We have all lived long enough in the digital world to know that what is here today can be gone tomorrow. It is like the old PacMan machine: one cannibal constantly eating the other; in this case, one technology gobbling up or vaporizing another. So, we try not to be lured by the latest shiny object which might not be demonstrably valuable to small and midsized businesses. We try to curate expectations in a realistic way.
Our engineering team has placed a high emphasis on developing security features. Our team prides itself on detecting potential fraud within the US carrier market sooner than most of our carrier partners. Scammers and other hoodlums harass and mislead unsuspecting victims with unwanted calls and we are actively involved in projects to curtail that kind of fraud.
As part of our basic service model, XCastLabs does provide 24x7 service. We have a long-standing partnership with a major national provider and their US-based call center takes our after-hour, week-end and holiday calls. All our customers have access to our integrated back office systems and access to our trouble ticket platforms. This means that any customer can report any problem directly to us no matter the time of the day or circumstance. Our NOC team is very vigilant and responsive. Our executive management team culture is “always on” and our resellers can speak directly to a senior executive of this company—simply by texting or calling them in an emergency.
Q. What is the XCast team currently working on? What can we look forward to?
At the moment, we are integrating access to Microsoft Teams into our standard hosted service offerings. That would be a good example of an integration that is sensible for small and midsized businesses while not necessarily the most popular “hot button” in the down market consumer space. There are many features that are now integrated into Microsoft Teams that are popular in the mass market— like the SMS features and video chat available from multiple vendors. But the heaviest initial users of hosted services integration with Teams will be for business applications.
The Leader Upfront, Patricia Mathis, Executive Chairman and Founder
A visionary leader and an entrepreneur,
Patricia Math is has been in the communications and unified communications space for over two decades. She has been on the board of several communication companies.