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The Flowroute team.
The Flowroute team.

Flowroute wants to shake up the telecommunications industry with its voice-over-Internet service.

The Seattle-based startup launched in 2007 and CEO Bayan Towfiq said the company’s revenues have doubled every year.

“Flowroute’s overarching goal is to make telephone service as easy as getting a Gmail account for enterprises around the globe,” said Towfiq, who co-founded Flowroute with two classmates from UC Irvine.

Two years ago, Towfiq moved his company from California to Seattle in what he says is the smartest decision Flowroute has made so far.

“The Pacific Northwest’s tech hub offers a talent pool that fits Flowroute to a T,” he told GeekWire at the time. “Washington also is a friendly environment for business growth, with attractive tax rates, and the low cost of living is great for everyone at Flowroute.”

We caught up with Towfiq for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

Flowroute CEO Bayan Towfiq.
Flowroute CEO Bayan Towfiq.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Calling and messaging capabilities for developers to integrate into applications and services.”

Inspiration hit us when: “When we realized that software could be used to replace complex hardware to route calls and define telecommunications networks. We are inspired on a daily basis when customers bring us unique applications or challenges that we help them solve.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap. We have been able to grow quickly and organically due to the demand for our unique prepaid business model. To this point, as we continue to grow we may consider taking in outside capital.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our core technology combined with a singular market focus to bring integrated communications to developers. We help enterprises easily create robust telephone networks and define a dynamically expanding library of telephone numbers and also allow application creators to integrate anonymized called features into their mobile applications.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Our smartest move was relocating our business to Seattle, giving us access to a deep pool of high-caliber talent and developers.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “At first, we focused heavily on refining and iterating our product, seeking perfection. From a go-to-market perspective, we initially took too long to bring our services to a market (developers) that would be able to quickly foster innovation with telecommunications. This has changed since our company launch.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos. He is redefining entire markets. There isn’t just one model for services like shopping, taxis, or real estate. He realized the way consumers were making purchases was broken and it could be simplified through technology. That is similar to what Flowroute is doing for telecommunications.”

flowroute-logoOur favorite team-building activity is: “Eating as a team. Every Wednesday the team congregates in our kitchen to enjoy Waffle Wednesday and to catch up with one another on how the week is going and what each others’ goals are for the remainder of the week. This allows us to spend time building our internal relationships to foster true collaboration and comradery to handle any client or technology issue that may arise. We are a tight-knit group.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Talent, drive and a sense of humor. We aren’t necessarily looking for telecommunication experts, but do want individuals who want to be part of a growing team. Ideal candidates will have a desire to contribute to our company’s success, understand our business objectives, and have an opinion about how to make things better. We also have a lot of fun at work since we believe a relaxed atmosphere brings out our creativity and innovation. The people we hire really help define our culture and our approach to the business.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Build strong relationships with a few really innovative customers who can help guide your business forward. These customers help impact your product road map in a positive way and help you define your goals and customer service as a company. Focus on these loyal customers versus trying to accommodate all customers large and small.”

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