Software company to expand, then hire

A Wichita software firm is looking to hire more workers.

But first, it has to move to a larger suite.

Bold Software, an 8-year-old company founded by serial entrepreneur Kent Johnson, saw its revenue jump 30 percent in 2010, officials of the privately held company said.

Higher revenue and sales — the company saw a 25 percent revenue gain in 2009 — prompted Bold Software to add six employees last year.

And now, with nearly 20 employees at the company's 1,700-square-foot suite on the fourth floor of 2 Brittany Place in east Wichita, Bold Software has no room for the additional employees it wants to hire.

"We outgrew this space faster than we thought," said Steve Castro-Miller, Bold Software's president and CEO.

The company's flagship product is called BoldChat, a software product that allows visitors to a company's website to chat online with company representatives.

That product has been responsible for Bold Software's growth. And while it is diversifying its product offerings, online chat will continue to be a main driver of growth for the foreseeable future, Castro-Miller said.

At best, only 20 percent of the market for online chat software has been tapped, he said.

"There's a big, big pond out there," he said.

He said there are a handful of competitors, including one called LivePerson that Castro-Miller said is the "800-pound gorilla" in the industry.

He and Ross Haskell, Bold Software's director of marketing, said factors such as customization of the product and add-on services allow Bold Software compete effectively. So does the company's mission to serve small businesses and midsize and large companies. It has more than 9,000 customers in 70 countries, though 80 percent of its business is based in North America, Castro-Miller said.

Some of its customers are Motorola, Archer Daniels Midland, 3M, Vornado, Dean & Deluca and EasyJet.

Officials declined to disclose exact sales and other financial figures.

The company takes the approach of acting as a customer-service consultant with its client companies, which benefits Bold Software in competitive situations.

"From a product standpoint we've made a conscious decision that this is technology that companies ought to get good at (using)," Haskell said.

To further penetrate the untapped market, Castro-Miller said the company needs some more marketing and sales personnel as well as programmers and back office staff.

Bold Software will be able to add those workers once it moves into a 7,500-square-foot suite at the building next door, 1 Brittany Place.

That move is expected to happen this spring, officials said.