10 start-ups to watch: Clarus Systems

 Location: San Francisco

What does the company offer? ClarusIPC, a software suite for IP telephony system testing.

How did the company get its start? Evan Powell, most recently director of network strategy at ThinkLink, a provider of IP messaging and communications software, founded the company in February 2001. He determined a product need based on his experience buying and managing wholesale VoIP minutes while an executive with Working Assets, a second-tier telecom carrier.

How did the company get its name? "When Clarus was founded, implementers of IP telephony were struggling to navigate the deployment process. Our customers say our products provide them with much-needed clarity," says CTO Richard Whitehead.

How much funding does the company have? $18 million, including a $10 million second round that closed in June 2004. Investors include Mobius Venture Capital, Trident Ventures and Trinity Ventures.

Who's leading the company? Brendan Reidy, a former vice president with security vendor Latis Networks.

Who's using the product? About 15 large IP telephony integrators, which the company did not name for competitive reasons.

Why is this company worth watching? The ClarusIPC product is intended to fill a need that Clarus says is not being met sufficiently by major IP PBX and VoIP systems makers - reliable, testing, troubleshooting and network configuration tools for enterprise IP telephony. In this emerging market, Clarus joins a mixed field of emerging VoIP tools start-ups and some established network management and telecom test equipment vendors that are beginning to target enterprise VoIP customers. Such companies include Concord Communications, Empirix, IQ NetSolutions, Qovia, Ixia, Telchemy and Viola Networks. The vendor could face challenges as larger IP PBX makers begin to ally with or acquire VoIP tools/services vendors. (Cisco's 2004 purchase of Netsolve is one example.)

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