Everywhere you turn these days in the startup / business community you hear about pivoting your business, it has become one of the most overused buzz words of the past couple years. However as overused as it is, it can play a pretty important part of your companies toolkit. Pivoting is what eventually brought DialMyCalls to fruition after years of running a wake up call service I had started back in the year 2000 which was aptly named WakeUpLand. Here’s a quick story about how our little pivot was an entire game changer.
AND SO IT BEGINS
It all started when I created WakeUpLand out of my dorm room as a side project to better my web design skills. At the time there were no other wake up call services online, so it seemed like an interesting niche to target. After a couple weeks of getting the site up and launching it an order actually came in, at the time that $0.99 order blew my mind. Orders came in every couple days and I had many tired zombie-like days after waking up at 4am to make sure everyone received their wake up calls – I had not thought about the fact that I would be the one making all of these calls.
After a couple weeks of running on little to no sleep I ended up reaching out to a company that did wake up calls via toll-free number. We were able to negotiate a small deal and for the next few years I was able to load up my wake up calls into their system and they would automatically send them out. It was a great little side business netting anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand bucks a month, and basically ran on auto-pilot – not a bad deal for a few weeks worth of work!
THE RISE OF VOICE OVER IP
A few years later VOIP was becoming much more popular and I started looking at the possibility of sending our own calls rather than going through the wake up provider I had partnered with. The provider was taking 50% of my sales and if I switched to VOIP I’d be looking at a fraction of the cost, meaning a way better profit margin. I reached out to a developer who was a friend of a friend and pitched him the idea of sending the calls using VOIP. After a few months we were actually able to send out our own calls through our own platform, it was amazing, and instantly increased the bottom line of the company. WakeUpLand was rocking and rolling, but this is when a little epiphany hit me smack in the face…
THE LIGHTBULB MOMENT
A customer emailed in asking if we could send a call out to his church about an upcoming event. I politely answered “no”, but then a couple days later, after thinking about it, I asked myself, “why can’t we?” We had just created our own calling platform capable of sending calls at reasonable rates, the game had completely changed right in front of our eyes. I reached out to Chris the developer and the wheels starting turning. We were dead set on creating the best voice broadcasting platform we could come up with.
I finally met up with Chris, the programmer, at a hotel in Orlando, Florida – the room we rented for a weekend became our base of operation. Countless hours were spent sketching up ideas and storyboarding the entire website, trying to figure out how to make a somewhat complicated process as user friendly and easy as possible. Picture easels, poster boards, papers, empty cans of Redbull, and stuff taped everywhere – I wish I had taken a picture of the creative madness that took place that weekend.
I went to work creating the front end of the site and the user interface, he worked on the backend and phone dialer – it was a good 5-6 months before we had anything useable. It took a lot of back and forth with consultants and experts to fine tune everything to work how we wanted. We spent a ridiculous amount of time working on the Answering Machine Detection in order to have the most accurate AMD out there. After we were happy with the results we slowly launched with the name DialMyCalls.com in early 2008, the rest you can say is history. To this day we still have some of our customers who signed up that first week using the system, I love logging into the admin and seeing our old double and triple digit account numbers sending out broadcasts.
EMBRACE YOUR PIVOTAL MOMENT
Since its initial inception as a wake up call service website that was created in my college dorm room, DialMyCalls has become one of the leading voice and text message broadcasting providers available. We have had over 50,000 users sign up, including churches, universities, fortune 100 companies, and everything in between, to send their alerts through us. We have an amazing team of ten people who kick butt every day, two offices, and 7 figures in revenue. I’d say as overused as the word pivot is these days, it’s something to definitely keep in your back pocket. Don’t be afraid to try new things with your company whether it’s brand new and you’re throwing ideas around or a 5 year old side business just making a few extra bucks.
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