founder

Founder Profile: The Whatsapp For Freelancers With Co-Founder Of Ring4, Alex Botteri

Summary

With the freelance economy expanding rapidly here in the US there is a growing need with no good solution for freelancers: Keeping personal and work communication separate.

With no affordable solutions for acquiring a second phone line, freelancers are often forced to outlay hundreds of dollars a year and deal with managing a second phone as well. With this making little sense, Ring4 Co-Founder & CEO, Alex Botteri set out to solve this problem with an easy-to-use, low cost phone line accessible through its app.

They are creating a frictionless user experience and may reinvent the way freelancers and businesses alike manage phone lines in the future. Be sure to learn more in our latest Founder Profile and invest on Republic.  

Chris Lustrino

Alex, can you provide us with a bit of background on yourself and how you decided to start Ring4 - an app-based second phone line for freelancers and professionals?

Alex Botteri

As many of us in the Bay Area, I am a computer science engineer, passionate about new technologies, and fascinated by all the innovation coming out of Silicon Valley. Originally from France, I lived in Canada, Spain, Germany, and finally moved to San Francisco in 2013 as I was working in the CPaaS space (Communication Platform as a Service) helping internet companies to connect to the telecommunications grid via APIs.

Uber, for example, uses CPaaS APIs to provide their drivers with anonymized numbers to communicate with the riders, without disclosing their personal phones.

As I was working from co-working spaces, I realized that most entrepreneurs are using their personal phone line for work. Setting up a work email is easy and cheap, but setting up a new phone line is just too expensive, $700/year and dealing with two phones is impractical. 

Mobile carriers are not innovating very fast, I thought that a startup could disrupt the way phone lines are distributed so I created the Ring4 app.

Chris Lustrino

For those that may not know, how would you describe Ring4 to the layman?

Alex Botteri

Ring4 is a 2nd phone line, without a second phone.

Chris Lustrino

What other similar products currently exist in the marketplace? How do you stand out?

Alex Botteri

Google Voice is probably the most notorious project in that space. It was designed as a web product in 2009 to forward calls made to a Google proxy number to your existing phone line. With Ring4, we wanted to build a mobile-first product, for the iPhone era, designed to integrate natively with the operating system. The app works entirely over data (wifi, LTE, 4g, 3g) and is 100% independent from any existing phone line or device.

Another innovator in the industry is Burner, which popularized the use of disposable phone numbers in the US. Ring4 is taking a different path by targeting the market of Freelancers who need a permanent phone line, and we are opening international markets on top of the US.

We also have been comforted by the recent round of financement of a company called Dialpad, which raised $50M, last month (July 2018) to provide virtual phone lines solution to Enterprises. It is as a great validation for the market and the technology trend.

Chris Lustrino

What is the price point of your product, and what types of margins do you see on that price point?

Alex Botteri

Ring4 is a freemium, with free and paid options. You can generate a number for free, and use the app with either pre-paid or ad-sponsored credits. If you wish to keep the Ring4 number and use it for your business for example, the most popular option is to activate an unlimited plan, starting a $9.99/month.

To get access to the lowest cost base of the market, Ring4 entertains direct connections with mobile carriers and Tier 1Telecommunication providers. Our margins depends on the country, but they are close to the Software industry margins at scale in the US.

Chris Lustrino

What does your typical user look like? Are they a freelancer? Small business owner?

Alex Botteri

Phone lines, by nature, can be used for many reasons and by many different kinds of users, but we see the strongest demand coming from Freelancers and Entrepreneurs, starting their businesses. 

We also see some interesting new kinds of business owners, like the digital nomads, who travel the globe and work remotely contacting us from Bali or other exotic places in the world, keeping their activity and clients in the US.

Chris Lustrino

Your most important metric seems to be Sales Per Installation (SPI) which has been rising. Can you define SPI and describe why it has been trending upwards since inception?

Alex Botteri

We published the evolution of our SPI Sales per Install* metric on the Republic crowdfunding campaign page, which shows the avg amount of money spent into Ring4 by users having installed and open the app.

Monitoring the SPI tells us how valuable the app is for users overtime. Since the Ring4 pricing has remained stable, seeing an increase in SPI shows us that users have been getting more out of the app. It also a proxy to determine how much budget we can dedicate to acquire a new user.

*An installation is counted when the app is opened for the first time on the device it was downloaded into, provided the device has an active internet connection and has opted into providing analytics to the developer.

Chris Lustrino

Can Ring4 be used anywhere?

Alex Botteri

If I had to pick one trend, I would talk about the growth of the Freelancers community, 25% today, this group is expected to represent 40% of the US workforce by 2020.

New infrastructure needs to be built to support this group, and companies like WeWork have taken this hyper growth opportunity to disrupt their industry i.e. the office spaces in this particular case. People used to work in companies where all their IT was taken care of, they now have to manage it all by themselves. Technology needs to be easier to setup and use, and needs to be cheaper. Ring4 is a simple solution for the phone line.

Chris Lustrino

Why did you decide to pursue an equity crowdfunding raise and how do you plan to deploy that capital?

Alex Botteri

Ring4 was voted best product on Product Hunt at launch last year, so we already had some level of confidence that people were ready to support the vision. With crowdfunding, we are giving the opportunity to users to go one step further, by offering them to own a piece their telecommunication network. For Ring4, it is also a great way to create a community of early adopters willing to engage with our team to provide their feedbacks, influence the roadmap and become ambassador of the technology in their communities. 

The funds raised during the campaign will be allocated to the product development of Ring4 version 2, currently in preparation, including many new features for power users that we are looking forward to unveil, and an Android version of the app. We will also start deploying a growth strategy backed by a marketing budget to grow the user base, revenues, and build the Ring4 brand.

Ring4 is innovating on a problem that to date has only had an irrational solution, aka a $700/year phone line and often times also associated with a second phone. For this reason we think the company can be a winner.

Stay tuned to see if Ring4 can obtain a TOP DEAL rating in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you like what Alex had to say, be sure to invest HERE.

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About: Chris Lustrino

A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.

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