November 13, 2017
Startups & Entrepreneurs

Hartford startup Ten Digit targets call-center market

Matt Pilon
Gary Brandt, CEO, Ten Digit Communications
Thomas Howe, Co-founder, Ten Digit Communications
A screenshot of Ten Digit Communications’ TDC Bridge technology, which allows call-center workers to interact with multiple customers through a text-messaging system.

Few people enjoy calling customer service, which can often involve getting put on hold and passed around to different departments.

A fledgling Hartford company is shaking that process up for the modern era.

Ten Digit Communications, founded by two telecom industry veterans and housed in a new incubator in the Stilts Building, recently received a patent for its technology called TDC Bridge, which, put simply, enables call-center workers to interact with multiple customers through a text-messaging system.

It's actually much more complex than that. Ten Digit built-in sentiment analysis, foreign language translation, tie-ins to customer relationship management databases, encrypted call capabilities and many other features.

"We think we've come up with something transformational," said CEO Gary Brandt.

Brandt and his fellow co-founder, Thomas Howe, a communications engineer by training, started building the system in 2013.

The idea is to reduce the often high costs — $8 to $12 per call — of operating a call center, Brandt said.

TDC Bridge is meant to allow call-center workers to handle more customers at once.

"They can have 12 to 15 simultaneous conversations," Brandt said.

He said many companies have sought to lower call-center costs by directing customers in need of assistance to log into mobile apps. But convincing customers to download an app is an uphill slog.

On the other hand, virtually every cell phone has texting capabilities, which is why Brandt said it makes more sense to plan customer interactions through text.

The call-center market is big with more than 2.2 million workers in 6,800 centers across the country, according to Texas-based Site Select Group. The number is larger when including home-based agents and smaller call centers.

It's a big market for Ten Digit to attack, and Brandt said he's ready.

The company has already won over one marquee client — cable, internet and telephone provider CenturyLink — which began using TDC Bridge in its enterprise call centers a few months ago. Brandt said Ten Digit has several dozen more clients and is targeting Hartford-area insurers as potential customers.

Ten Digit is now trying to raise funding, mainly to market its technology.

The company has $400,000 in Small Business Express funds from the state, and has also raised approximately $600,000 more from friends and family, he said.

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