With A Startup, You’re Predicting the Future

by Casmin Wisner     Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014.

When building your business, no matter what market you’re in, your phone system is the last thing you want to stress about. In fact, I’d be so bold as to say you don’t even have the time to stress about it.

This was the case of the Jive founders.

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Jive began when John Pope, CEO of Jive, and five other individuals— who were working at three different companies—didn’t want to pay a pretty penny for an on-premise phone system.

And do you blame them?

When building, expanding, or upgrading your business, the last thing you want to stress about is how to manage your high maintenance phone system. As technology changes, new equipment must be purchased, there are high setup costs, expansions increase the management complexity, and in the long-run there are unpredictable maintenance costs.

They didn’t have the time or resources to implement this kind of a system. In fact, Pope mentioned, “We [didn’t] have the money to go out and buy a third party soft switch, so [we decided to] build our own.”

Jive seemed to them like a great solution to the pricey on-premise system, so they began building their own PBX software. Pope added, “I got excited when I was able to solve the problem, not have to install any hardware, and change around a dial plan.”

Pope was recently interviewed by Startup Grind and asked about Jive’s birth and keys to success. He emphasized the importance of not only working your tail off, but being passionate, knowing what you’re jumping into, and being well-versed in all adjacent channels to your business.

Being Passionate

While he had no telecom background, a market opportunity had presented itself, and Pope had five passionate co-founders with his same opinion early on. Passion and a long-lived “startup mentality” is key in Pope’s opinion because starting a business is in itself a huge risk and leap of faith.

“In a startup, you’re basically predicting the future. You’re talking about some mythical place that you’ve never been to and they’ve never seen, but you’re inviting people to come on this journey with you to this mythical place,” said Pope.

Passion doesn’t – and shouldn’t – just lay with the founder and co-founders. At Jive, we are committed to employing people who empower themselves. In a startup especially, you can’t hire people who are politely waiting around to be empowered. That initial growth period is both the most exciting time, and the most risky time.

Eight years later Jive is still nurturing that “startup mentality.” There is an excitement in inventing income, and doing that through creative methods and fulfilling needs. Every Thursday at Jive there is an open invite for all employees to stay until midnight, talk shop, join in hack-a-thons, keep the excitement and camaraderie levels high, and be fed while they’re at it.

Knowing the Size of Your Puddle (or Lake)

In referring to a startup as “a mythical place that you’ve never been to,” you also have to question if it’s a place that others in the same or similar fields have been to. Jive saw the opportunity to jump into the market before Cloud had gained much traction. Though this is the time of greatest uncertainty for a company because there’s a risk that this market “puddle” could either grow to the size of a lake, or dry up entirely, this is also the most favorable time. In Jive’s case, Cloud may have not made its mark yet, but the telecom business certainly had. Pope mentioned, “It’s all a game – saying you’re going to take basically no resources and through all your efforts and working with other co-founders and the management team you’re going to take on the AT&Ts and Ciscos of the world…[it] gets your adrenaline pumping.”

There was no doubt there was a large market opportunity for Jive. We saw a need that could be satisfied by relieving unnecessary pain and frustration by saving time, energy, and resources.

Being Well-Versed in Adjacent Channels

Jive is unique because it controls the entire product from pricing to feature development to markets. When there is a problem, it is promptly fixed, and when our customers give suggestions, we immediately look to our development team.

In his Startup Grind interview, Pope mentioned, “Long-term success at Jive has been a million favorable transactions across all the different disciplines. You have to be responsible with your resources everywhere.”

Being knowledgeable on every point of business in your company, and controlling these channels, will lead to a stronger, more reliable brand, customer trust and loyalty, and greater profits.

While starting a business from the ground up may seem initially daunting, the key to success is in finding something you’re passionate about, looking for a market opportunity, and having a hand in many channels of your business. Combined, these business traits will help you predict the future success of your startup, and bring that “mythical place that you’ve never been to” into reality.


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