Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Ben Brophy, co-founder of communication platform Upwire.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
Upwire is a drag-and-drop communication platform that lets you set up simple to complex multi-channel communication workflows in minutes.
It does away with the technical complexity of alternative solutions. It enables business to communicate with customers in clever ways that range from 2-way SMS, to email and chat bots, to IVRs with voice biometric authentication.
Upwire’s network is enterprise-grade and delivers voice, SMS and email communications globally. It’s used by super lean startups all the way up to multinationals like Computershare and QBE.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We’re been self-funded for the most part aside from some small private investment right at the start. We’ve got some great customers that have been with us right from the early days. They used it, loved it and kept finding new use cases for Upwire. We’ve reinvested the revenue back into the business to fund the expansion to date, including our recent US expansion.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
Upwire’s drag and drop interface really sets it apart. People with no coding abilities at all can launch simple to complex communications in minutes. Whether its IVRs, SMS chatbots, or multi-channel lead generation campaigns.
It’s giving companies of all sizes a new found agility and responsiveness around their marketing and operational communications.
To build equivalent communication workflows with alternative solutions you are looking at complex IT projects with multiple integrations. And that’s just to launch it, never mind if you need to make changes.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Growing as we are right now, the immediate challenge is getting the right people.
We’ve just made our first hire in San Francisco and are building out a sales and technical support team there. And at the same time we’re adding to our Estonian-based developers! Getting the best people we can will be huge for the coming years.
We're looking for great talent obviously, but they need to buy into the vision, the culture of the business and believe in the change we’re making.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
This is one we’ve only recently adopted but its already a winner – Starleaf videoconferencing.
We actually share office space with them in Sydney which is how we came across it. One of the many benefits of shared office spaces! We use it for all our video calls and team chat – couldn’t be easier and the quality is great. The whole team has ditched Slack and Skype/Google Hangouts in favour of it.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
A mentor of mine said very early on - "Be humble and never stop learning" - it always resonated with me because it is so simple and true to everything in life.
For me, it is a privilege that Upwire finds itself in this position, it has been a huge amount of work for all involved. But one should never forget where it all started and it is important to remember the tough times. Being humble is essential because it helps keep the drive and fire burning.
And never stop learning...once you think you know everything then you are in trouble. Technology is changing at dramatic speed, you have to keep researching, talking to customers and market experts, and learning. Learn everyday, from success and even more importantly, from the failures...everyone fails, if you do not then you are not pushing the boundaries enough and you are not creating.
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