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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 12, 2000. All rights reserved.

You’ve Got Certified Mail: Mahesh Muchala

E-mail: MelindaSherwood@princetoninfo.com

What’s stopping you from E-mailing those private financial

records to your attorney or accountant? Probably the same thing that

has technology stocks doing a free-fall every so often: security concerns.

"E-mail in its basic form is like an open postcard — you don’t

know how many people have read it and it passes through so many hands,"

says Mahesh Muchala, founder of CertifiedMail.com, the Springfield-based

start-up that the New Jersey Technology Council named "Best Internet

Technology Company" at its Venture Fair on March 20.

Just like certified postal mail, CertifiedMail.com guarantees the

security and arrival of any given document, using the same kind of

encryption process used for online banking and stockbrokering. When

downloaded, the CertifiedMail mail option appears as an alternate

"send" button in the Microsoft Outlook browser, so that users

can chose to send their E-mails the old-fashioned way, or with the

extra security. When a message sent through certified mail arrives

at its destination, it bounces a receipt back to the sender, citing

the date and time the message was received and opened. Users pay a

flat rate for the service: $100 a year.

An offshoot of a 15-year-old data security software business servicing

the Pentagon, CertifiedMail.com has acquired nearly 20,000 customers

— mostly lawyers and big corporate accounts — during the past

eight months. Muchala speaks on "E-Business Plans that Work"

on Thursday, April 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the New Jersey Entrepreneurs

Forum at McAteer’s in Somerset. Joining him is Jim Betlyon,

founder of thepersonaltrainer.com, an industry website for professional

trainers. Call 908-789-3424. Cost: $45

Muchala, a native of Bombay, India, has a chemical engineering degree

from University of Bombay. He is founder of Safety Net in Springfield,

a company that provides data security software to the defense industry.

The idea for CertifiedMail.com was an innovation intended to enhance

its own distribution processes. "We started to distribute our

data security software in 1995 over the Internet," he says, "and

we got a lot of complaints from our customers — rightly or wrongly

— that we did not make our delivery. So we started working on

a mechanism to develop something to track our E-mails. Then we said

this is something that can be used for any digital delivery."

With nine angel investors and one venture company behind it, CertifiedMail.com

raised $2 million, and is getting a little marketing support from

Gates himself. Since the program was developed on the Microsoft NT-Server

platform, the software giant is doing a case study on CertifiedMail.com.

"We get a lot of marketing muscle from Microsoft," says Muchala.

Although AOL offers similar notification for its members, CertifiedMail.com’s

unique feature is that it can be used on any browser and on any E-mail

service. The company has found among its biggest clients people in

the export/import, law, and consulting. Muchala now employs 14 people,

but he expects to double in size — hiring new technicians and

salespeople — in the next few months.


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