Avanquest reorganizes, builds software roster

Touting its growing global network of software publishers, BVRP Software Group Tuesday rebranded subsidiaries around the world under the Avanquest name and appointed two new directors charged with further developing product services that are now offered in 21 countries.

Paris-based BVRP, which started off as a developer of communications software, launched Avanquest last year with a core group of software publishers that consisted of subsidiaries in the U.S., U.K., and France. Since then it has added a Germany-based subsidiary and signed deals with affiliates that allow the group to offer product localization, support, marketing, and distribution services in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

"BVRP decided to take its own experience with its own software titles and expand that globally," said Christina Seelye, president and chief executive officer of Avanquest USA, based in San Mateo, California. Before Tuesday's announcement the company was known as Elibrium Software LLC.

The Avanquest-branded companies and their affiliates provide expertise in local markets and build on relationships with distributors and retailers to offer a one-stop shop of publishing services for developers worldwide. In countries where Avanquest does not do business directly, it has developed relationships with local publishers.

"We offer the most cost-effective way to enter new markets," said Seelye, who Tuesday was named as an Avanquest Executive Director, a title she shares with Andy Goldstein, chief executive of Avanquest Germany, formerly MediaGold International GmbH.

Goldstein has responsibility for Avanquest business in Europe, Middle East and Africa, while Seelye is responsible for building Avanquest business in South America, North America and Asia.

In addition to Avanquest USA and Avanquest Germany, the publishing network includes Avanquest France, formerly AB Soft, and Avanquest U.K., which merges companies formerly known as Kommunicate, Guildsoft, as well as the London offices of MediaGold.

Since its inception in June last year, Avanquest has struck deals with established companies, such as Taiwan-based Cyberlink Inc., a maker of DVD editing tools, but has given an especially big boost to smaller players, according to Seelye.

"We feel we can make a big difference with smaller publishers, developers who have one or two products but may not have the capital or know how to expand in the retail channel or into foreign markets. A lot of guys have been successful on the Internet but want to take it to the next level."

One such Avanquest customer is Boston-based Tenebril Inc., which sold its GhostSurf product exclusively online until it hooked up with Avanquest. GhostSurf is designed to let users surf the Web anonymously,

Tenebril is led by two recent Harvard University graduates, Joshua Blanchfield and Christian Carrillo, who turned to Avanquest to get help placing their product in retail.

Though Tenebril had some success in a pilot program with CompUSA Inc., for which they had to pay US$10,000 up front, the young entrepreneurs found it hard to make an impression with other retailers.

"We discovered that no one seemed to care about us," Blanchfield said. In addition, the product packaging needed refining, even for interested retailers such as CompUSA.

Rather than take on the task of packaging and marketing to retailers themselves, the Tenebril co-founders turned to Avanquest.

"There's every reason why a big retailer would not want to do business with a small company," Blanchfield said. "The retailers want someone who has a track record, who can guarantee ad dollars."

After releasing GhostSurf Pro to retailers in August, sales of the product hit a run rate of 17,000 units per month in February, becoming one of the best selling utility products in retail, according to Avanquest. Avanquest has also helped Tenebril launch Lifeguard, which provides users with data back-up and restoration capabilities, and is working to launch Tenebril products in Europe.

One of the next goals on Avanquest's agenda of expansion is to find a partner in South America, according to Seelye. Though the company has found strong local players, it is hoping to find a partner with the ability to work in a wider geographical area, she said.

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