SupportMinds offers tech support for SMBs

SupportMinds plans to expand later to offer SMBs additional remote services from India, such as security and network management

SupportMinds, which offers technical support from India to consumers in the United States, is expanding to offer services to small and medium-sized businesses as well.

The company is starting with tech support services for SMBs but plans later to offer other remote services such as security and network management, said Raghu Raman, chief operating officer of SupportMinds, on Tuesday.

"We found that there was a great opportunity for us in businesses that had five to 50 computers, who don't have in-house support staff, and who work with independent service providers," Raman said. Businesses with more than 50 computers typically have a system administrator or a tech support team, he added.

SupportMinds is based in San Jose, Calif., and delivers services from Chennai in south India. Its parent company, CSS, provides infrastructure management services to end-user companies and is also hired by large vendors such as Cisco Systems to support customers.

Last August, SupportMinds rolled out its services to consumers and has handled 12,000 customers since then, including about 1,800 long-term, regular customers.

SupportMinds' differentiator, Raman said, is its ability to deliver quality service at lower costs, since it provides its services from a low-cost location. A standard business package is priced at $1,200 per year, including 180 support calls and some other services, according to information on its Web site.

As it starts to address businesses, SupportMinds will likely compete not only with other third-party service firms, but also with freelance system administrators and technicians that offer support to small businesses. Rather than compete with those freelance workers SupportMinds hopes to work with them, by having them resell SupportMinds' services, for example, Raman said.

While SupportMinds offers remote help desk and other services, freelance technicians will typically offer break-fix, hardware component replacements, and other support that requires an on-site presence, he added.

SupportMinds also plans to partner with channels such as value-added resellers to tackle the SMB market, Raman said.

SupportMinds currently has 80 support staff, which it plans to increase to 1,200 over the next three years. It believes it has much room to grow, since today it covers only a fraction of the estimated 70 million households in the United States using computers and related devices, Raman said. It also hopes to partner with large vendors to bundle its services with their products.