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Driving sales: Company’s mobile device demo programs expand profits

🕐 5 min read

Vienna Channels LLC

1905 Industrial Blvd.

Colleyville 76034

409-622-3620

www.viennachannels.com

Thirteen years ago, wireless industry veteran Pamela Bofinger left a high-profile career at Nokia to start her own business, Vienna Channels, based in Colleyville.

Today, her company is a major player in the mobile industry.

Vienna Channels designs and manages customized mobile device demo programs for the leading wireless carriers and mobile technology manufacturers. Many companies use in-house testing and demo programs for their devices – products including smartphones, tablets, notebooks and smartwatches – but in-house product demos often result in low return rates for the devices and added expense for the manufacturer, Bofinger said. Vienna Channels can deliver more wireless products into the hands of potential corporate buyers in a faster, easier and more efficient way than an in-house program can, she said.

The net results for the company’s technology clients is a reduction in demo unit inventory and shipping costs, fewer dollars wasted on unreturned data devices and an increase in sales.

Vienna Channels also continues to expand its profits and customer base. Since its inception in 2002, the company has experienced exponential growth year over year. Bofinger projects a 38 percent increase in revenue for 2015.

“This has just grown into something I never imagined. It’s taken a life of its own. We’ve had tremendous growth. In the early years it wasn’t crazy to double our revenue each year,” Bofinger said. “As far as I know, we’re the only company that just does this. We find that most companies try to do demo programs on their own. They find they get 20 to 30 percent of the units back. We’re getting 90 to 95 percent of the units back. That’s a huge value for them. Our model has become extremely successful.”

Bofinger’s background in mobile technology has focused on sales, marketing and business system solutions. A native of California and a graduate of the George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University, she began her career at the former NEC Technologies Inc., managing channel business partners for technology companies.

“I learned so much there. I really understood the flow of how to get products from manufacturers down to end users,” she said.

She left NEC and became vice president of sales for Nokia Display Products, where she managed national corporate accounts. She then switched to Nokia Mobile Phones, most recently serving as director of business development and product management for North America. She was primarily responsible for selling Nokia’s vision for future products to key corporate customers as well as overseeing strategy for new channels of business. She transferred to Nokia’s corporate office in Irving in 1999.

“I had gained a lot of experience in the cell phone industry, in corporate sales and carrier sales,” the 51-year-old entrepreneur said. “At that time, my kids were in elementary school and I wanted a job where I could stay at home more with them. I just wanted to do something different. I had a solid corporate career so I decided to try something on my own.”

Bofinger started Vienna Channels to help bring the cell phone industry and the computer industry together because at that time “there were different sales channels and different models, and that was my expertise,” she said.

Today, Vienna Channels provides a complete package for wireless carriers and manufacturers who need to test their devices before they can be launched in the marketplace. Services include custom-branded demo order websites, next-day shipment of in-stock items to prospective buyers, order tracking, real-time demo reports and analysis, and product feedback surveys. The company emphasizes quality service and quality assurance, making sure devices are fully loaded with the correct software and firmware, equipped with the proper accessories and cleared of any personal data from a previous demo cycle.

“We’re like a small boutique handling company for the mobile industry. We help get products into the carrier stores. We’re really behind the scenes,” Bofinger said. “The reason we’ve been doing this for so many years is because when we make a commitment, we get it done. Our success is that we take excellent care of our customers.”

Tucked back on a commercial street that fronts a quiet neighborhood, Vienna Channels’ two-story, 8,000-square-foot building might be mistaken for a residence. Behind the main building is a large warehouse, with space for another warehouse. The company employs about 15 full-time people but can expand to 120 employees to handle large orders. Daily shipments can average from a few hundred boxes up to 3,000 boxes. On a good day, Bofinger said, 12,000 boxes will go out the door, but a big project might find 200,000 or more boxes to be packed and shipped.

“We have a cool team spirit. Everyone pitches in. We wear T-shirts that read ‘little team that could,’ because we make it happen for our customers,” said Bofinger. “It’s so interesting and something I never thought I’d be doing. I ran corporate sales and now I’m in the back, shipping.”

In March, Vienna Channels opened a 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Irving to handle the uptick in business. Donna Regenbaum, a friend of Bofinger’s from Nokia days, came aboard as a partner and manages the Irving facility, where the larger orders are filled.

“We want to make sure we grow well versus just growing,” Bofinger said. “It’s a small industry and we have lots of relationships and a reputation that are important to us. We want to grow cautiously in a way that we know we can continue to give customers a good level of service.”

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