SM: Is RingCentral larger than you are?
ST: Not necessarily, but I can’t say for sure. The only thing I really know about them is that they have raised a couple rounds of venture capital. I never look at competitors and worry about what they’re doing. I don’t believe they are much bigger than we are.
SM: You are right, they have raised substantial amounts of money. They are also quite a bit larger than you are. Why don’t you worry that much about your competitors?
ST: We do have people who keep an eye on them. I absolutely disagree with anybody who tells me that I need to be worrying about my competitors, because I think that creates tunnel vision and roadblocks for yourself. Ultimately it hurts innovation. The greatest entrepreneurs, those who start companies and grow them very successfully, are those who come from an industry other than the industry in which they did their startup. They cannot really see anything in their industry other than the lack of good competitors in the space.
SM: In your case there are some very good competitors out there.
ST: That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship; we can always see it from different perspectives.
SM: I see your key differentiator in your labs. You are growing through innovation and not acquisition.
ST: What we are doing for entrepreneurs is very exciting for us. We’re coming out with new things this year that excite us, and the best part of what we are doing are the new products and services coming out of the labs. Chargify is a testament to how we can make the labs work. Entrepreneurs keep us motivated to continue to do what we are doing.
SM: I really like to see companies who have bootstrapped. I like the fact that you built this yourselves. How many people do you have employed now?
ST: We have just under 50 employees, and the entire Grasshopper family encompasses about 100 people. On the lab side we have a lot of people, and we have a customer support center that is outsourced that has 20 people dedicated to handling Grasshopper accounts. We look at it as just under 100 real Grasshopper employees.
SM: Where did you outsource your customer service?
ST: It is outsourced with a partner of ours who is a part of our executive team. We run the customer service center separately, which allows us to focus our virtual PBX service and allows them to handle the customer experience.
SM: In effect, you have 50 full-time people plus another group of approximately 50 support are generating more than $10 million in revenue?
SM: Excellent. Those are great numbers. Congratulations on building your company, and I look forward to seeing your progress.