Prodamus Leaves Sun's Incubator With ECourier

LONDON (04/06/2000) - Prodamus Ltd. yesterday became the first company to emerge from business-incubator.com, the technology incubator joint venture between Sun Microsystems Inc., Oracle Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., and Exodus Communications Inc.

"We approached Microsoft (Corp.) with the idea and got a poor response, so I e-mailed (Sun Chief Executive Officer) Scott McNealy and got a response overnight," Martin Ince, managing director of Prodamus said.

Business-incubator.com is not a funding incubator, quite the opposite. During the three-month incubation period, companies pay a flat rate of 15,000 pounds (US$23,700) for access to the equipment, software and consultancy from the four companies, according to a spokesman for business-incubator.com.

Ince believes that the two main reasons business-incubator took Prodamus in are that the company is business-to-business-oriented, and that it is revenue based. "We're planning to make a profit this year, it might not be huge, but we are planning on a profit," Ince said.

Prodamus emerged yesterday from its three months in the incubator with two ASP (applications service provider) products, Ecourier and Message Logistics.

Ecourier is a Web-based secure e-mail service, which keeps the users' e-mail secure from sender to receiver using SSL (secure sockets layer). "Basically, it's a model designed to overcome the shortcomings in current e-mail services," Ince said.

To use Ecourier, the user sets up an account on the Prodamus Web site, logs on to the secure server, and sends an e-mail message. A message then appears in the recipient's in-box, noting that there is a message, with a URL to pick up the message. The recipient then follows the URL and reads the message over a secure server. This is the basic idea, but Ince believes that it's the additional options that make the service useful.

"We have encryption, receipt upon delivery and reading, and the option to pull back the message until the user has read it," Ince said.

The service, which is priced at 2 pounds (US$3.20) for a single message to 50 pence per message in quantity, is aimed at the online banking, e-billing, law and recruitment markets. "If we get the volume, we're hoping to actually drop the cost below the price of a first class stamp," Ince said.

The company is also in talks with government officials in attempts to make the receipt that shows when a message has been read, as legally binding. "The key to this is the individual password the user gets, they sign a contract saying that they are responsible for anything that is opened with the key," Ince said.

Message Logistics is an outsourced email service offering policy management, spam control and anti-virus, and is targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises with a limited budget. "This is for companies that couldn't ever hope to afford the infrastructure or staff that would usually be required," Ince said.

Message Logistics is priced at between 5 pounds and 10 pounds per month per user.

Prodamus, in Hampton on Thames, England, can be reached at +44-20-8213-5967, or on the Web at http://www.prodamus.com/. Business-Incubator.com can be found on the Web at http://www.business-incubator.com/.

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