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Bootstrapping in Pennsylvania: OnSIP CEO Mike Oeth (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 28th 2015

Sramana Mitra: This went live in 2004?

Mike Oeth: The company went live in 2004. The OnSIP Hosted PBX was October 2006. It was actually nice not being funded by VCs. We had the flexibility to change our business plan and go out and see what was working and what wasn’t. The SIP Trunking was working, but we were getting more and more requests for hosted PBX from people who wanted just to have a couple of phones out there and not have their own version of Asterisk. We spent about a year developing OnSIP-hosted PBX and then we launched that around 2006. That has been our flagship product ever since. At this point, we’re getting about 35 sign-ups per day and with the PSTN gateway, we get about one a week.

Sramana Mitra: 2006 was when the hosted PBX was launched?

Mike Oeth: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: At this point, the three of you were basically bootstrapping the product and getting things off the ground. Were you still based in Pennsylvania?

Mike Oeth: Yes, we were. Probably around that time, we opened an office in Manhattan. John was in Brooklyn. We were all working out of our homes. At that point, we started hiring more and put together a development team out of Manhattan.

Sramana Mitra: Were you able to segment where you were getting traction in terms of customers in any way at that point?

Mike Oeth: The way we got customers was Rob and his marketing team really became SEO masters. It was really amazing at how well they dug into the metrics and focused on real quantifiable search engine optimization. Today, we have a very active Twitter feed and social media. We have a very active blog, which has years and years of history and backlinks. Ten years on, we have great rankings across the board. Early on, it was a lot of work – good quality blogs and something that people want to read. You can get your rankings up in a short amount of time.

Sramana Mitra: Absolutely. What’s the next major milestone? The three of you were working out of homes and acquiring customers in 2006 around hosted PBX. What’s the next major thing that happened to the company?

Mike Oeth: At that point, we had a service that was, and still to this day, radically different than any other product out there. It’s bring-your-own-device. It is no-charge-per-extension, bring-your-own-Internet, and really do it yourselves and having the website as the major way to configure your own PBX and make changes and sign yourself up. The next big challenge for us was to ramp up a website where customers could come in and have their PBX up and running in a matter of 10 minutes. We spent a good amount of time on our web interface for the back-end PBX. For a time, our slogan was, “OnSIP, the home of the 10-minute PBX.” You could literally go from signing up to making calls in 10 minutes or less. John has a nice anecdote. He likes to say, “We knew we had a good product when we have so much fraud.” People would sign-up with a stolen credit card and be making calls 10 minutes later. We’ve worked to reduce that fraud and luckily, that’s not too much of an issue anymore. That’s when we knew we had something that was really worthwhile.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Bootstrapping in Pennsylvania: OnSIP CEO Mike Oeth
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