A few short years ago, Elingo was little more than four experts working from a house. Now it’s ushering SA’s top contact centres into a new era. CEO Ian Goss-Ross attributes his company’s success to passion, instinct and grim determination in pursuing a goal.
Elingo, the only accredited reseller partner for Interactive Intelligence in SA, was born of the passion of four contact centre experts who wanted to take to market the most advanced contact solutions possible, with the interests of the customer in mind. Goss-Ross says: “We didn’t just want to sell products based on the biggest profit margins. We wanted to partner with contact centres to deliver the best possible solutions for them, backed by the best possible support.”
In 2001 the four embarked on the venture and based themselves at Goss-Ross’s home.
“It wasn’t easy,” he concedes. “Finding start-up finance is difficult for a new business and proved to be a challenge. But I knew we had a great product, so I downscaled my house and sold my nice Land Cruiser. My partner and I did everything we could to sponsor the business as we had to ensure that everyone had enough to survive on.” This meant the occasional departure from the new company’s core focus in order to carry out contract work as and when necessary.
Goss-Ross says: “We often relied on gut feel as we pioneered new territory, but it is easier to take risks if you know there is a greater plan. Sometimes we would feel despondent and say: let’s just keep going for another six months and see how things develop. But we had confidence in the talents we’d received and since we firmly believed that we were bringing to market something nobody else had, we honed our skills, sharpened our instincts and persevered.”
“One of the things you must do when starting a business is be prepared to take calculated risks, manage the consequences and just keep going a little longer,” he says.
It took two years to reach a point where the company had established a credible track record, and business started rolling in on the strength of referrals and a strong partnership with Dimension Data.
“We got more and more work from different companies, especially from Dimension Data, who eventually asked us to do managed implementations and support for their Interactive Intelligence product sites,” says Goss-Ross.
Despite the team’s extensive technical expertise and good industry contacts, it still took around two years for the business to become profitable. Elingo then moved to premises in Midrand and started hiring the best talent and building up support contracts that delivered annuity revenue.
Around 2010, Elingo moved on to handle all Interactive Intelligence business as a separate entity. Since then, the company has almost doubled both its revenue and profit, year on year. It now has a sizeable staff compliment and a growing list of clients. “We are on a huge growth curve at the moment,” says Goss-Ross.
This success is due to a number of factors, he says. The team was committed, passionate about the industry and believed in the product. They also had hard-to-come-by technical skills. In addition, Goss-Ross has proven business management and marketing experience which has stood him in good stead while he remains focused on the end goal. But crucially, the company saw a market need, selected a world-class product and ensured that all its customer interactions were good ones.
“Now, when I take prospective customers on a site visit, the existing customer sells the solution for me,” he says. “Customer satisfaction can’t be underestimated.”
Goss-Ross expects strong growth for the company as increasing numbers of local businesses see the need for future-proof, multi channel contact centres.