On August 19, 2011, Los Angeles-based CallFire will host “Biz2Beach” – an event that will bring together innovators, entrepreneurs, tech industry leaders, and small business owners from Southern California under one roof for a day long “unconference.”
I sat down with CallFire CEO & Co-founder, Dinesh Ravishanker, to learn a little bit about his company, the L.A. tech scene, and ultimately, goals for Biz2Beach. A little background: Dinesh is a recognized leader in the Voice 2.0 space and has focused his career exclusively on VoIP Integration consulting. He has served as President of Skyy Consulting Inc., and led business analysis & user interface design projects for the U.S. Navy, Pfizer, & Unisys Corp. So, ya know…he kind of knows “what’s up.”
Here is what he had to say….
RI: How many current employees does CallFire have and are you still growing?
DR: We currently have 20 full-time employees and see that number increasing over the next six to twelve months. We’ve been profitable and growing quarter over quarter since our founding in 2004. In 2011 CallFire will earn nearly $10 million in revenue and 2012 may see nearly double that.
RI: What is your business model, or main source(s) of revenue?
DR: CallFire simplifies customer telephone outreach, for businesses. We make it easy for nonprofits and businesses to make or accept thousands of phone calls simultaneously, without owning telecom infrastructure in-house. We also make it easy for any organization, small or enterprise, to text message their customers for promotions and alerts. Moving business telephony to the cloud saves time and money, allowing businesses to focus on the telephone user experience, rather than constricted in-house technology.
RI: How did CallFire come to be? What was the impetus behind launching this business?
DR: CallFire began as a spinoff project from Skyy Consulting, the parent company. During our 2nd year of operation, after having developed several enterprise VoIP platforms, we had the idea to host a GUI providing prepaid, pay-per-minute access to our Voice Broadcast system. Over time we added reporting, sound management tools, many new features and several great customer support folk to our team. Seven years later, CallFire has 40,000 customers who love our innovative telephone interface.
RI: What is your role there, i.e. your day to day?
DR: As a company founder, my role changes on a weekly basis. I research new product ideas, develop key business relationships, assist with enterprise sales, help design our graphical user interface, handle legal issues and even answer support calls. Each day has a set of new challenges, but we manage to have a lot of fun while working hard. Especially since we have dogs and a Ping-Pong table at the office!
RI: What is your favorite part of working with a startup/small business?
DR: Working with my good friends, nonprofits and having dogs in the office – they’re great companions.
RI: What is one of the biggest challenges you face as a young CEO?
DR: The biggest challenge I have is staying focused, while driving multiple business initiatives, managing employees and answering to customers. It’s a challenge to keep involved with operations, while maintaining momentum on new initiatives.
RI: Who are some of the industry leaders, business people who you look to for inspiration and why?
DR: Jobs, Chomsky & Gandhi are a few of my inspirations. Jobs is my business idol, for his intelligence and industry foresight. Gandhi is my spiritual idol, for his ability to be heard worldwide without force or violence. Chomsky is my intellectual inspiration, primarily for his raw honesty and ability to see leaders, politics and government for what they really are.
RI: What keeps you going, even during the rough times?
DR: Family, friends and an unshakable sense of optimism for humanity.
RI: What are the implications of the recession on capitalization of small businesses like yours?
DR: CallFire helps nonprofits and businesses save money, become increasingly efficient and generate revenue. We’re one of those few companies, like healthcare and entertainment, that continue to grow despite an economic downturn.
RI: What opportunities do you see in technology over the next 2-5 years? What are the trends?
DR: We see the next 2-5 years as a hotbed for location-based recommendation engines, mobile-payment systems, mobile VoIP and real-time (localized) social networking.
RI: What are your hopes for Biz2Beach?
DR: We’d like to see Biz2Beach blossom into Los Angeles’s premier B2B networking ‘unconference’ – an annual event drawing a mix of the brightest minds in technology, advertising and anyone in the B2B space.
RI: Ok…burning question: iPhone, Android, Blackberry. iPad?”
DR: I’m an iPhone user, though a 2nd term re-election is not guaranteed. Android is close second. I tried the iPad for a month but switched to a 11″ MacBook Air for the keyboard and OSX. Regardless – I am long on Apple.
To learn more about CallFire visit: www.CallFire.com
To learn more about Biz2Beach visit: www.Biz2Beach.com
2 Responses to Interview with Dinesh Ravishanker, CEO & Co-Founder of CallFire.
Way 2 go Dinesh.