Versature was born out of my own needs and challenges as a small business serial entrepreneur. I'd like to share my story – which is also the history of Versature – with you.
When I purchased my first business phone system I learned a costly and frustrating lesson in the problems of technological rigidity. After reviewing multiple vendors, I chose an NEC phone system for my start-up company. As a small business with plans to grow, I found it very difficult to estimate what we would need in terms of lines, extensions, and features.
Over-Sold and Poorly Sized
As other entrepreneurs can most probably relate to, I ended up with an over-sold and poorly sized "KEY" phone system. Being very enthusiastic and just a little optimistic, I overestimated both the number of Bell Canada lines and the number of NEC phone system extensions that we needed; yet with Bell Canada it was nearly impossible to determine actual line use and was therefore impossible to right-size our investment in lines. Once I had purchased the key telephone system, I wasn't able to easily change it as the business evolved and we learned what we really needed.
The NEC system was not the problem per se – we would have had the same problem whether the system was a Toshiba, Nortel, Cisco or Avaya. Rather, it was painfully clear that traditional phone systems – and traditional phone companies like Bell Canada – simply weren't able to address my needs as a small business owner. But, it wasn't until some years later that an employee retention issue caused me to take action and venture into the voice-over-IP (VoIP) business.
In 2005, my most senior employee was moving to the United States and both he and I wanted to keep working together. The nature of the work we did was conducted 95% online and on the phone, so we knew that he could provide the services from anywhere. But after calculating the long-distance charges that we would incur with a technical support agent located in the United States, it was obvious that it would be cost prohibitive. As technical people, we knew about Voice Over IP (VoIP), which was at the time starting to become feasible for business use. This is where our journey into VoIP began.
The Evolution of VoIP
The evolution we went through in building and using our own VoIP-based business phone system mirrored the evolution that the VoIP industry went through. We started out with a VoIP Server prototype that we built ourselves utilizing open source technologies; this allowed us to prove the technology and got us on the right path towards our eventual Hosted PBX solution. Our new Chicago-based employee started working remotely and while the quality wasn't always perfect, it was good enough to keep us excited about the technology.
About 2 years later, we decided to develop a PC-based VoIP system that we could sell. But, we soon realized that the business model just didn't work for our target SMB customers, who did not have technical expertise in house – and didn't want to have to acquire any.; So, owning and managing a PC-based phone system on their premises was out of the question, and the up-front capital costs of doing so were often prohibitive.
Versature is Born
The story of Versature began at the moment we realized that, in order to share the conveniences and business benefits of VoIP with non-technical SMB customers, we would need a radically different business model. A Hosted PBX Software as a Service (SaaS) model was the logical solution – providing the features and services without the hardware, hassles, or capex. In 3 months our first Versature Hosted PBX service was available. Since that time, Versature's feature set, pricing models, and network have become sophisticated, robust, and widespread throughout Canada. Customers have really embraced the feature set, the fact that there are no long-term contracts, the customer service that we provide from quote through to fulfillment, and of course, the pricing that allows them to save money while at the same time increasing their capabilities.
Thank you for your interest in the history of Versature.