After GeCAD, a Romanian company, sold its RAV AntiVirus software to Microsoft in 2003, it discovered it had programs to manage a software vendor's distribution network. RAV AntiVirus became part of Microsoft's Windows Live One Care security software. MS Windows Vista users can download a free beta version of One Care to diagnose PC problems from Microsoft's Web site at http://tinyurl.com/onescan.
GeCAD took its distribution software and formed Avangate, a company that provides electronic ordering, payment and support services for software vendors. Avangate's official headquarters are in the Netherlands, with engineering and the majority of its employees in Romania. But Avangate has chosen Mountain View for its North American sales office, where former CTO Daniel Nicolescu enthusiastically promotes the company's services in his role as U.S. business development manager.
Recently, at Avangate's business networking event in the banquet room of Ristorante Don Giovanni, Casey Potenzone, North American sales VP, explained how there is more to selling software online than putting a PayPal or Google Checkout button on a Web site. Avangate provides a "Buy Now" button, but it also calculates foreign taxes, prevents fraudulent transactions and provides multilingual technical support. And it takes a percentage of software vendor sales.
Besides the usual credit card and PayPal payment options, Avangate offers vendor-to-vendor payment using Avangate's account, as well as fax payment. It also offers support in 12 languages, the latest being Portuguese. Avangate's template-oriented software makes it easy for software vendors to add products to their online store and to track customers. Avangate helps software vendors with online marketing and promotion through services like Google's AdWords.
Carmen Sebe, CEO, told me how Avangate partners with vendors to develop online marketing campaigns. She stressed the importance of meeting customers face-to-face, even though Avangate is Web-based.
Another Romanian company located in Mountain View is BitDefender. BitDefender is also part of a larger Romanian software group, Softwin, which has more than 500 employees. Beau Roberts, global marketing director, told me that Avangate has helped BitDefender grow its customer base to over 40 million users. It is worth looking at as an alternative to Norton or McAfee products for PC security.
You can get BitDefender Antivirus for free if you choose another service or product from TrialPay, a company I covered in this column last July. Last week, BitDefender's Spam Omelette report, found on Malware City (www.malwarecity.com), stated that Email (or E-mail), Please, Click, Love and New were the five most popular words found in spam messages.
If you link to a product from one of Avangate's partners on your Web site there are significant affiliate commissions, usually at about 40 percent of sales price. Recently, Avangate partnered with Payoneer to offer vendors and affiliates the option of being paid using a prepaid debit card. This helps handle international transactions and may reduce bank handling costs.
Both Avangate and BitDefender have been able to brand themselves by distancing themselves from their parent companies to look like local companies. Their Web sites make it easy to become a partner or affiliate, with training, presentations, videos and resources. It's not easy to get people to pay for software, but by creating a brand, offering services and going global it is possible to attract paying customers.