Princeton eCom: E-Processing For Back Offices

Ronald Averett

E-Processing of Medical Claims

Expansions

National Alliance For Trenton’s H&H

Online in Hopewell Valley

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox and Melinda Sherwood were published

in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

August 25, 1999. All rights reserved.

Princeton eCom, Pronto Solutions, eleaders

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Princeton eCom: E-Processing For Back Offices

Other ways to pay bills electronically: Write electronic

checks using your bank’s online service, or, if you deal with one

of the few companies that put their bills online, go to that website

and pay there. A Research Park-based firm, Princeton eCom, has been

doing remote banking and processing for 15 years and it feels it is

in the right place to profit from the online bill paying revolution.

The company was founded as Princeton Telecom by Princeton University

physics professor Donald Licciardello, and Ronald Averett is now

president

and COO. For such clients as Wells Fargo, Fleet, Meridian, and

Collective

Financial Services, Princeton eCom does settlement disbursements and

other number-crunching, paper-shuffling duties.

Now the firm is in the middle of a "quiet period" for its

initial public offering, using the symbol ECOM. Meanwhile it plans

to move to bigger, more expensive headquarters in the Forrestal

Center.

From 15,000 square feet at Research Park it will move 100 employees

to 40,000 square feet at 650 College Road. In the past two months

it has added 30 staff members, recruiting both commuters and move-ins

from New York and Philadelphia.

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Ronald Averett

In an interview earlier this spring, Averett said he hoped the IPO

would take place late in the third quarter or early in the fourth

quarter. "The management team has created a great set of services

that we market and now our challenge is to scale the business,"

says Averett.

CheckFree, based in Atlanta, is considered this company’s major

competitor.

"CheckFree historically has focused on banks and our focus has

been on billers," says Averett. "We feel we are pretty well

positioned to understand what the billers’ needs are, and we believe

in the long term we will compete against CheckFree. But in order to

provide the consumer with an online payment solution, we need to work

together. `Co-opetition’ is the word."

Princeton eCom Corporation (ECOM), 165 Wall Street,

Princeton 08540. Ronald W. Averett, president and COO. 609-924-1244;

fax, 609-924-1096. Home page: http://www.princetonecom.com.

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E-Processing of Medical Claims

onehealthbank.com, 379 Princeton-Hightstown Road,

Building 2, Cranbury 08512. W. Edward Hammersla III, president and

CEO. 609-371-3000; fax, 609-371-3001. Home page:

http://www.ohb.com.

Here is another information technology firm co-founded

by an alumnus of Logic Works, Dean Boyer. With W. Edward Hammersla,

Boyer has figured out how to connect three stakeholders — the

credit card company, the insurance company, and the healthcare

provider

— to efficiently and cost-effectively process medical claims and

payment information.

The firm, which recently expanded its office space on

Princeton-Hightstown

Road, would connect the payers, the consumers, and the providers by

consolidating the transactions and synchronizing the payments with

the legacy databases of the payers. The company hopes to test the

system in controlled environments this fall.

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Expansions

Pronto Solutions LLC, 123 Franklin Corner Road,

Suite 104, Lawrenceville 08648. Jolly Joseph Paily, president.

609-912-0284;

fax, 609-912-0994. Home page: http://www.prontosol.com.

This computer consulting company plans to grow its own

talent: "We are planning to recruit local talent and train them

in software programming and new technologies and give them

opportunities."

says Jolly Joseph Paily. "It is very difficult to find computer

programmers. We have to keep ourselves open to recruit people from

anywhere."

Pronto offers computer consulting software for E-commerce

applications,

systems integration for E-commerce and enterprise resource planning

(ERP), plus Internet and client server applications. Paily and his

wife moved the business from their Plainsboro home to Franklin Corner

Road; there are five employees, including those in Pittsburgh and

Colorado, plus a dozen consultants.

A computer engineer at the University of Bombay, Class of 1991, he

spent five years in technical jobs and then moved to business

development.

He moved to the United States in 1996, first as a founding member

and director of ERP services for a Pittsburgh consulting company,

United Breweries Information and Consulting Services, that went public

in 1997. He joined Pronto as a partner.

"We work with Fortune 500 companies and have one major

manufacturing

client," he says. One of the firm’s E-commerce products, Solec,

integrates with ERP software to make the functions of any business

webcentric. "We extend the capability of ERP software such as

SAP, BAAN, and PeopleSoft," he says, adding that Solec’s

competitors,

such as CommerceOne and Pandesic, are very complex and expensive.

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National Alliance For Trenton’s H&H

Out-of-the-box Internet service whet the appetite of

PC buyers last year, but this year, it is companies selling complete

A to Z Web solutions. eLeaders, out of Mineola, New York, for example,

is offering the complete package — ISP, Web hosting, Web design,

and E-mail. eLeaders is setting up "eCenters" in the shops

of retailers that sell everything from computers to advertising, in

effect, weaving a web of Web service providers that spans New York

to Atlanta.

The newest link in eLeaders chain operation is in Trenton, where

Chauncey

Herring, founder of H&H Computer Systems, has lifted the eLeader sign

above the shop where he has been building computer systems and

networks

for 13 years. "It’s the perfect complement," says Herring,

a former IBM engineer with a BS in engineering from the Agriculture

and Technical State University in North Carolina, Class of 1977.

"We

maintain our identity as H&H business machines; we’ve just added on

the identity of eLeaders. Our clients are going to be handled by a

local company with a national power."

Herring, who builds computer systems, network servers, and high-end

computer work stations, bought into the chain for a large chunk of

change that is supposed to cover the cost of hardware (digital modems,

routers, T1 lines), training for his staff, and all the advertising

and marketing. Rich Mittasch, founder of eLeaders, expects Herring

to earn that back in a matter of a few months.

"He’d probably make that back in about four or five months simply

by selling services to his client base, as well as new products he

could never offer before," says Mittasch, products like Web

design,

hosting, and ISP, all of which come out of the eLeaders central

office.

"If he had to buy the hardware, market it, and hire the people,

if he had to do all that himself, it might be two or three years

before

he earned it."

Or never, says Mittasch, a former CIO at Olsen Services who holds

a BS in computer science from Adelphi University, Class of 1988.

"All

Internet service Providers (ISP) are bound by two major problems,"

says Mittasch. "One: the technology moves quickly. Two is money.

That’s why most of the technology companies are showing no profits

but record sales. A lot of ISPs that had very good business concepts

were going out of business because the architecture was changing too

fast."

Mittasch started eLeaders two-years ago from his parents’ garage and

now has 17 full-time people working out of the Mineola office, where

he shares ownership with Dario Trentini and Rich Morris. Each

franchise

owner has put down $20,000 in cash and the rest, a sum of $230,000,

in equity. A 24-hour crew operates all the ISP machines remotely,

but so far, that hasn’t been a problem, says Mittasch. "Since

we’ve streamlined all of our operations we don’t have to run on such

a tight profit margin."

eLeaders can trim away some of the costs that cause other ISPs to

crater by keeping a centralizing advertising and technology corps

that services the franchises, who in turn, service customers that

are already walking through the door. "We’re talking about someone

who has an existing product and client base," Mittasch says of

his "partners." "They don’t have to reinvent the

wheel."

"Since our clients have to deal with computers in one way or

another,"

says Herring, "they send their business our way first. In turn,

any business that H&H does work with may need a web site, so I can

just turn them over to eLeaders." The two companies split the

profit.

New clients are not the only thing that eLeaders adds to its portfolio

by opening franchises, however. It also sells its partners’ products

in markets that they couldn’t ordinarily reach. It’s a completely

symbiotic relationship, says Mittasch. "We look for an alliance

where they could benefit from our products and services and we could

theirs," he says. In the case of Herring: "Top line servers

is his forte," says Mittasch. eLeaders is selling them at marked

up prices in New York, using an Intranet that helps each franchise

track and sell the others’ products. eLeaders takes the mark-up as

their own profit. "We’re making alliances with local businesses

that are in the technology field and already made a fair amount of

investment in the technology," he says. "It’s really for

organizations

to band together more synergistically."

eLeaders also has an ad firm in its midst. "It’s a great alliance

in that they already talk to big corporations, and they can also

produce

their web media," says Mittasch, who hopes to get friendly with

more companies that serve corporate communications needs, such as

phone installers. The eLeader franchises: Berns Communication in New

York, Folkman and Associates in D.C., Nortech in Atlanta, Sullivan

and Associates in Philadelphia. Mittasch hopes to open new franchises

soon in Florida, Las Vegas, and California. Signing up under the

eLeaders

name and product may revive businesses that, along with the technology

they provide, are at risk of becoming obsolete.

— Melinda Sherwood

eLeaders, 2233 South Broad Street, Hamilton 08618.

Chauncey Herring, president. 609-888-2666; fax, 609-888-3844. Home

page: www.eLeaders.com.

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Online in Hopewell Valley

Hopewellvalley.com is an example of what we can do,"

says John Whitehurst of Whitehurst Industries, a tenant of the

Straube Center since 1994.

Launched just in January, this community website has cheerful color

photos that load quickly and is significantly better, in design, than

similar sites. It has a healthy string of messages on its Town Hall

chatboard and a nice array of portal links (MSN, the Weather Channel,

Beyond.com, and Movie Finder) that may eventually provide a source

of income.

An interesting local authors page lists authors by name and publication,

ranging from Joyce Carol Oates (with photos of her book covers) to

outdoor adventure author (and recently retired Princeton Alumni Weekly

editor) Jim Merritt. Though many links are available to pages concerning

these authors, none are provided, and no other biographical information

is offered. As is the case with many community sites, content is a

challenge. The events page has few listings, and many are out of date.

About a dozen businesses have logged into the commerce section. Jann’s

Sweet Shoppe, for instance, has three pages detailing the many yummy

concoctions for which Hopewell expatriates may be salivating. But

online ordering is not yet available.

Fleet Bank sponsors the Town Hall chatboard here; in the face of two

new "community banks" in the township, is Fleet trying to

prove it is community based? ShopRite is another banner advertiser.

This website has its roots in a company that started in 1994 as Anarchy

Entertainment for online gaming. In the summer of 1998 it switched

focus to consulting on multimedia and Internet development under the

rubric Whitehurst Industries. Its clients vary from mom and pop shops

to custom work for pharmaceutical websites.

"We focus on turnkey packages that can get new clients up to speed

and custom web and multimedia work for clients who want that something

extra," says John Whitehurst.

Meanwhile he, his brother Tim Whitehurst, and Alex Jamieson continue

with Anarchy Entertainment. "We are in the process of acquiring

some games that we will distribute online for from $15 to $50,’ says

John.

All three grew up in Hopewell, where the Whitehursts’ father was an

organic chemist at Mobil, and their mother worked at Educational Testing

Service. John went to Rochester Institute of Technology, Class of

1991, majoring in computer science. After graduation in 1991 he did

a couple of brief stints writing database applications until Tim graduated

from Syracuse in 1992. Jamieson worked for the firm when he was in

high school and graduated from design school in Pasadena last year.

"The idea was to create a web site for all parts of the Hopewell

Valley community in a fun and colorful way, and get it out to people

for free," says Tim. "We’re all connected now."

Anarchy Entertainment and Whitehurst Industries,

114 West Franklin Avenue, Pennington 08534. 609-730-0800; fax. Home

page: http://whitehurstindustries.com.


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