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Show HN: Send a fax to 50 countries, no signup, account or subscription required (faxrocket.com)
152 points by kunle on Oct 16, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 75 comments



This looks absolutely fantastic! Does anyone else feel like Show HNs with straightforward, by-the-order pricing is always based on declining technology (Fax; SMS; Printing in the case of Bingo Card Creator)? I guess it has to do with the customer base?


It's the predictable margin between cost to provide service and the value of convenience to the customers.

The marginal cost of sending a fax is, arguably, about one cent. (1.8c/min VOIP cost, 30 seconds to send, some electricity). Most faxes will be one page anyway, so the profit margin is a nice 10000%.

Finding a working fax machine if you don't have one sitting around all set up is a hassle on the order of 10 minutes to an hour, and likely to end up with a visit to a UPS/FedEx/Staples or the equivalent thereof, where they will charge you $1.50-$2 for the first page anyway.

Find a cheap old technology that people want to use infrequently and are therefore willing to pay a relatively large markup for convenience. Let's see... appointmentreminder already does voice calls for reminders, but how about automated, customized calls? Get a good speech synthesis app and let people send and schedule calls that read out whatever they want to type. That's probably worth a buck to people who only want to do it once, and then you can offer a subscription rate for frequent flyers.


Thanks!

EDIT: there’s definitely something to this thesis. In the case of faxes, they are an interface to older entities (government agencies and some businesses) and the unit cost for any individual to find a fax machine is relatively high. In addition, many fax services are venture funded and require subscriptions, when that isn’t really what many individuals need.


Cool! I use one of your competitors, Fax Fresh. One thing I like about them is that they clearly state they delete the fax from their servers once it's sent. I couldn't find such a statement in your privacy policy (though maybe I missed it). Can you elaborate on what happens to my fax after it's sent? Is it deleted from your server?


Ah, we do delete the file as soon as the fax is confirmed as delivered: its in our FAQ at https://www.faxrocket.com/faq.html. We will update the privacy policy to include a reference to that.


How does your company manage to use Stripe and Paypal for microtransactions with their fees? Do you get a special discount? 25 cents - minus fees means there's barely any left.


Paypal offers a separate fee structure for micropayments:

PayPal's micropayments price is 5% + $.05 and is designed for merchants who process low-value transactions (typically under $10 in value). The micropayments rate is available to all merchants and in all countries where Business accounts are available. If you sign up for micropayments, you will be charged the micropayments rate on all transactions regardless of payment size.

From PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/us/selfhelp/article/what-are-micropay...


I'm not sure about the answer to your question about different fees for microtransactions, but with their pricing, you would never get charged 25 cents. The minimum charge is $1.

The first four pages are $1, which I'm assuming is partly to cover that issue of their charge getting eaten up by payment fees.


This is correct.

The top payment processors all have a fixed component to their fees - we just absorb it into our pricing structure.


The transaction fee for $1 is still a lot. For example, in Stripe's case it would be 2.9% + 30¢ so about 33 cents. I guess if that's an acceptable margin, it's no big deal, but I was just curious if your company got discounted fees.


Yeah I wonder if they'd be willing to negotiate since this is a little different from the usual 99¢ app or whatnot. Sounds like a good service. No ads on faxes/covers, straight pricing, on demand without a subscription... All I'd need.


This is really cool! I rarely send faxes but it's always a pain when I do and all the sites feel like they're from the 90s.

Do you have your J2 situation sorted out yet? They're suit-happy.


J2?


https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-demers/is-google-compl...

> J2 Global operates numerous, nearly identical websites such as eFax.com, RapidFax.com, MyFax.com, MetroFax.com, SmartFax.com and Fax.com that all offer the same internet fax services. As a result, J2 effectively controls over 90% of the internet fax market.

> ... the methodology of litigation that J2 employs has allowed for them to sue any competitors for infringing on a patent held by J2 over all faxes using an email, regardless of whether they are using PHP, SMTP or .NET gateways in the emails.


As a note because it's not clear from searches, the "Integrated Global Concepts" in that article owned Maxemail.com, which was taken over by J2 in late 2016.


They own most fax brands. And allegedly sue (unless you settle) virtually every electronic fax provider for patent infringement.

Source: Used to work for, then own a fax brand many years ago.


I was asked to look for an online fax solution. A provider I contacted never called me back. Do you offer subscriptions even if they are not needed? I know next to nothing about faxing - how is the transmitted data secured? Is it?


We currently don’t offer subscriptions, as were just starting out.

Out of curiosity what’s your use case? There are lots of subscription fax services out there (efax and hellofax are 2 popular ones)


The UI is terrible, but the functionality is good on Anveo. I'd recommend it if you want something subscription based, and aren't concerned with rough looking UI. https://www.anveo.com/business/features.asp?code=faxinout


Faxing medical documents.


SRFax lists healthcare solutions on its site, and Faxage says "All of our fax service plans come with HIPAA compliance standard - No need for a 'special' plan or to pay extra for HIPAA related security features" and you can contact them for a BAA.

Other than that you can do things in-house with Hylafax and either hardware (e.g. Mainpine boards, expensive but they Just Work) or software solutions. My experience with software solutions (IAXModem with Hylafax and Asterisk) has been that speeds and reliability are sometimes poor, at least compared to good hardware solutions or physical fax machines supporting 33.6k.


HylaFAX Enterprise is a full SW solution, (roughly) HylaFAX plus the Dialogic SR140 which does both T.38 (new school fax) and G.711 (old school telephony fax). But generally it's 14.4k - believe it or not V.34 (33.6k) is still somewhat experimental over IP.

And 9600 is usually required to get faxes through to a lot of places, because everyone is trying to do fax over VoIP, and that is generally tough sledding, if it's possible at all.


We unfortunately aren't big enough (yet!) to provide HIPAA-compliance: the cost is quite high for the volumes we're sending right now. Send us an email at team@faxrocket.com: happy to talk about other options.


>I know next to nothing about faxing - how is the transmitted data secured? Is it?

Traditionally, transmitting a fax was just making a telephone call so it was vulnerable in the same way that any telephone call was to wiretapping. With fax services as exist today, you're basically emailing them a PDF and they're then sending that as a fax to someone's phone number. (Or the reverse.) So there's no real security other than that provided by the telephone network and the service's internal controls.

I had efax for a number of years but I believe they eliminated the free incoming fax number for free accounts and I haven't actually needed to send or receive an actual fax (as opposed to a scanned document) in years.


I recommend http://www.SRFax.com. Affordable subscription pricing with special plans for healthcare solutions.


So, if you send 1 short fax/week (@ $1 for 1-4 pages), your breakeven point just buying a fax machine ($30-50 for entry level on Amazon, new) is less than a year?

I work for a business that could use a low-volume faxing service, but the price needs to come down an order of magnitude.


The lack of subscription and signup, combined with the pricing, suggest that this is aiming at people who almost never send a fax, and would spend significantly more buying and maintaining a fax machine, compared to a couple dollars on this service.

I do hope you find a service that fits your need, but this is very likely not intending to be it.


Right, but is it a viable business if the average customer spends $1-2/year or less?

A business phone line ($100/month or less -- crap tier VOIP lines work fine for faxes) and a PCI fax/modem (<$50) should let you send hundreds of pages an hour with no paper or other consumables. It certainly seems like a send-only service that charges $0.01/page is more than viable. Even averaging only a page a minute would be $15/day in revenue, a huge profit margin.


If they have enough customers, then yes.


Who the hell wants to buy a fax machine?

I don’t care how much you can buy one for, I’d pay a premium to not have to have one or set it up.


You're forgetting the cost of a landline each month.


Every business already has a phone line or ten. Plugging in a fax machine for 90 seconds a week is not a major hassle.


This is cool - will definitely use it next time i have to send fax to the city!

Had a similar idea/pain point and I built a similar tool for sending postal mail - http://simplepostal.com/


This is awesome! Just out of curiosity, who (or what) do you use on the back-end? Is there like a Twilio for faxes?


Hey, thanks. Twilio actually does do faxes, but this was built prior to Twilio dipping their toes into the fax waters. We use Phaxio (https://www.phaxio.com/): the API is nice and clean and we've had an entirely happy time working with it.


w00t!


Phaxio! I'm a founder :)

Our goal is to provide devs that have mission-critical applications with the most reliable and redundant faxing capabilities. (If you've dealt with faxing, you know it's annoyingly finicky.)

Re: We're fans of Twilio, but our approach to solving this problem is significantly different.

(I'm answering the second question above, not necessarily the first)

edit: I guess I was answering both :)


Huh. Looking at phaxio's prices, faxrocket is charging a huge premium. For a techie, is there a reason to use faxrocket vs curling to phaxio?

Edit: I guess the phone number makes faxrocket a better deal for low usage, but phaxio becomes much cheaper quickly.


Twilio do faxes! Not sure if this is what they're using though. https://www.twilio.com/fax/


The Twilio for faxes is just Twilio!

https://www.twilio.com/fax


I think this is great. Existing products/sites aren't always kept up to date and you never know if they are still functioning.

Before working in an office, when I needed to fax a document I would have to drive to a Staples/Post Office or find a friend with an old fax machine.


No snark, I'm genuinely surprised: Does anyone still use faxes anywhere on the planet?

I sent my last fax twelve years ago, and considered that a retrograde outlier. Some agency requiring a signed piece of paper, not accepting my emailed pdf with a pasted in scrawl, but all roses and thank you, sir when same document uploaded to a random webservice and faxed. I do occasionally give up on Humanity.


Yes. Deal with government and/or the medical industry and you'll be sending upwards of 100/month in a small business.


Correct: HIPAA requires mail, fax, or secure web portal. And lots of doctors are small businesses without sophisticated IT investments. Lots of faxing.


I just recently learned about some stupid things going on at an oncology practice I work with - for new patients they receive faxed charts from other practices, and they're regularly 250+ pages.

Even if we get them set up with some form of HIPAA-compliant secure file transfer service I'm not sure how well it'll work because while I can train and work with the people at that practice, there's not much I can do about the people sending them charts. Best thing I've come up with so far as a quick fix is setting up inbound faxing on their VOIP system with a pool of inbound lines - speed is slower, but they can receive multiple at once and none of them are tying up the main fax line for 3+ hours at a time.


There are still many places that don't (can't) have high speed cable to use. Especially shipping carriers and sea ports, people just fax over and they'll have a hard copy of the message/notice.


I genuinely have no idea how to even send a fax, never sent one or even seen one get sent in my entire life and I'm closer to 30 than I am to 20.


Oddly enough, one of the drivers for building this was actually having to fax a signed doc for a background check (needed for an office lease) in early 2016. There are still a number of industries (for example, healthcare and insurance) where sometimes a fax is the fastest way to get the job done. Folks sometime just want to go with what works.


I'm in the middle of buying a flat, in Finland, and I had to fax my offer, such that they had a written record.

(Well to be fair I could have posted my offer, or persuaded somebody to drive me to the realtors office, but both would have taken more time - and time is important when multiple people are bidding upon a property.)


> Does anyone still use faxes anywhere on the planet?

Japan: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/world/asia/in-japan-the-fa...


Sure, try to deal with anything government related in Germany and they almost always ask for faxes. They may use email, too, but the addresses are like an onion address and it's not possible to correctly remember/write down such an email address when hearing it over the wire...


I work for a large bank and we send tens of thousands a day, mostly automated trade confirmations due to outdated regulations. It'll still be around for a few years yet.


I was looking for some online fax services recently and stumbled upon another similar service Fax.to The main difference - in terms of pricing - I see is that Fax.to charges per page as a cost unit rather than Fax Rocket's 4 pages

https://fax.to/destinations


It seems incongruous to use the Republic of China flag for Taiwan and yet labelling it as Taiwan, Province of China.


Any plans for an API to make it possible to upload and send a fax from a web app? This looks exactly like what we've been looking for for a while.

Also, how does your pricing vary by country, if at all? I know some providers (e.g. HelloFax) charge WAY more for our target country (Japan).


In terms of pricing, we're not doing any country-level price discrimination: same rate, wherever you are sending to.

Send us an email (team@faxrocket.com) with what you'd like to see from an API? Haven't yet looked at building one, but happy to either see what we can do or point you at the right place if there's a better option.


phaxio has an API -- 7c/page to USA and 10c to other countries. Japan is included as a 10cent destination.

https://www.phaxio.com/pricing/


What are your anti-abuse protections?


Hey there - not sure what you mean?


How will you prevent someone from sending spammy unsolicited faxes?


It's not free.


Having worked for a fax brand.. that doesn't stop shady characters from just using stolen card numbers. It's extremely common.


Neither is the postal service, yet most of my mail is spam.


Where is the list of 50 countries? The link doesn't seem to work for me.


The list, as requested: https://www.faxrocket.com/faq.html#!/displaycountries (not sure if HN will include the hash, but the FAQ page has that information).


Nice. How do you fund this without taking emails or requiring a subscription?


FTSite: ''Simple, straightforward, pricing. $1 for the first four pages, $0.25 for each additional page.''

Twilio charges are generally under $0.25/min for outbound phone calls in the U.S. and $0.01/page for programmable fax. If you choose not to opt for Twilio Fax API, lambda function to encode and send the fax is a fraction of a penny instead. So there's probably some room for profit margin either way.


While this service is pretty clear in that you just pay for each fax, one could easily imagine a free service that collected fax machine phone numbers and then later begins sending lots of fax spam.


Many years ago a company kept waking me up in the middle of the night with repeated attempts to deliver junk faxes to my home number. That inspired me to figure out how to use some fax software with my faxmodem (see, many years ago) to capture one of them. They became keen on getting me off their list when I asked for damages under the junk fax law.


It’s pay per use. Most fax services require you to have an account, which is really heavyweight for most people who really only have to send a fax a few times a year (if at all).


Looks good :)

Would you mind sharing how you chose which countries to support?


Removed (see comments below). Thanks for the wisdom petertb.


Generally it's considered a faux pas (and downvoted) to advertise on other users' Show HN.

HN doesn't have an anti-commercial position like other forums, but competition on Show HNs is heavily frowned upon, since we're supposed to be celebrating the user's initiative and effort, not just look at a product.


Best way to do this is wait a few weeks then post your own service :) People will then automatically begin discussing yours versus another one that was posted recently, etc.


Appreciated! I tried to delete the comment, but looks like it can no longer be deleted. Apologies for the faux pas.




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