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“Getting acquired by Microsoft was definitely one of the most intensive experiences of my life.”

Interview by Mike Sullivan

Business owners frequently get frustrated switching from Google Calendar, to PayPal, to Skype and the hundreds of other business management apps to complete daily tasks. vCita founders Itzik Levy and Eran Utmazgin have created the solution.

As CEO of vCita, Itzik created a new way to engage website visitors and manage potential clients online. The online platform is perfect for entrepreneurs who are striving to run successful businesses and need an end-to-end tool to keep everything in check.

Business owners no longer need to direct clients to dozens of websites when working with them. With the click of a button, vCita allows customers and leads the ability to reach businesses and independent professionals, and follow an integrated process for communicating and meeting with them.

vCita is not Itzik Levy’s first attempt at managing business. Itzik brings 10+ years of experience leading business strategies and managing development projects. Prior to founding vCita, Itzik was co-founder and VP R&D at Kidaro, a VC-backed desktop virtualization company that was acquired by Microsoft in early 2008. Following the acquisition, Itzik became a Product Unit Manager at Microsoft.

vCita sounds like an amazing tool. Can you walk us through a summary the process of exactly how it works from the customer end and from the business end?

The first step would be for the business owner or blogger to add the vCita widget to his or her website. By placing the vCita widget in a visible place on their website, visitors can contact, meet and engage with the business owner or blogger.

Any visitor can then easily send a message to the business owner, or ask for a video or phone meeting. vCita provides both a web-based, video meeting service as well as a private phone conference to conduct meetings privately.

vCita can also handle payment collection from a client with a credit card or PayPal account, subject to the business’ preference. vCita can either secure the payment prior to the meeting or after the meeting, allowing the business to issue payment requests for meetings or any other services.

To make it easier for the business owner, vCita also helps track and manage all messages, meetings and payment activity.

vCita obviously offers a variety of tools, and its value is that it offers them all in one platform. What do you believe is the most important tool that vCita offers?

You are right that the core value is the combination of all those tools together and the way vCita allows its users to use them to acquire clients and provide services online. I really can’t pick one tool that by itself is the most important. However, between the ones that weren’t mentioned yet, I would pick the vCita Contact Page, and the way it allows you, your clients and your friends to promote your business on social networks.

I see from your website that vCita operates on the “freemium” business model offering one version of the platform for free, and the premium version for a small monthly fee. Can you tell our readers what makes the premium version worth the cost?

As you mentioned, we currently have two tracks: free and business.

The business version is targeted for business use, this primarily means these users who want to provide services as well as get paid for their time.

The features that are available only in the business version include securing and collecting payments via credit card and PayPal, phone conference meetings and business- customized Terms of service Agreement.

In addition, our business customers get phone support and professional review and assistance with integrating vCita into their website.

We will keep building more capabilities into both our free and business versions. There are some really cool features coming in the next couple of months.

One of the proud-points of your resume must be that you were the co-founder of a company that was eventually acquired by Microsoft. Can you talk about what the acquisition process is like when dealing with a large corporation such as Microsoft, and what advice you can offer to others on the verge of going through something similar?

Getting acquired by Microsoft was definitely one of the most intensive experiences of my life. One piece of advice is to be very patient as the process is lengthy and can sometimes be nerve-racking.

For us, the process started as a series of meeting in Redmond, WA, where the Microsoft windows team, wanted to know everything there is to know about the company and the product. Between that day and the deal closing, about 5 months passed. The process included a deep dive into our technical, legal foundations and Microsoft conducted a routine business due diligence.

During the next three months, the hardest part was not telling our employees and conducting business as usual.

I completely understand how vCita is valuable for the business owner in organizing and keeping track of meetings, invoices etc. Can you explain more about vCita acting as a new way to engage website visitors?

We believe that part of vCita’s value is showing your website visitors and followers that you are available for them. I believe vCita does a much better job at that than a contact form. When visitors see your photo with an invitation to set a meeting and can get your help right in the landing page – they are more likely to approach you.

We try to make the experience as inviting and easy as possible. This eventually improves lead generation and ultimately grows your business. We also regularly monitor our clients’ success at getting new leads – and we keep improving our experience and appearance to make our clients successful in customer acquisition.

vCita already has a variety of features, but there is always room for improvement. What are the next steps for vCita?

We are currently working on a variety of improvements. One of them that will be released in August will be vCita contact widget – a new type of vCita widget designed to provide a similar but enhanced experience to the contact form we all know today.

This widget provides all the vCita functionality while still looking like a sleek version of a standard contact form – so it can easily replace the contact form websites are using today.

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