At just 19 years of age, he found himself pitching his then brand new telecommunications service to C-suite executives at some of Australia’s most well-known companies.
“Why would an executive outsource a part of their core telecommunications service with a kid?! Changing my age wasn’t possible, the only thing I really had control over was [presenting] myself in a way to prove that we were mature enough to be entrusted with their services,” the now 26-year old reflects.
And those services he was after are not worth pocket change. His company, Fonebox, which is on track to reach $10million in revenue this year, continues to grow rapidly. The premise is simple, but the execution difficult – and herein lay the business opportunity for Grives.
“Fonebox started as a result of identifying a niche in the telecommunications industry for hosting, routing and reporting on 13/1300/1800 numbers for marketing campaigns. Upon approaching companies about inbound numbers it became clear that larger providers were not providing a customised solution that incorporated all of these services,” Grives explains.
“The other side of the business, our 24/7 Brisbane based contact centre, was the missing piece to the puzzle to give our clients a full end-to-end solution. More and more people want their calls answered 24/7 in Australia and thus we harnessed the power of our technology to create a state of the art contact centre service. We now have over 60 staff in Brisbane servicing the needs of our clients,” he says.
For Grives, Fonebox has never been about creating a ‘set and forget’ company. He says that although he makes time to enjoy some downtime, his nights are often spent mulling over what steps he can put in place to expedite growth, and bring to fruition new visions for the business. Like many young businesses, the challenge is hitting that sweet spot between knowing when to expand, and when to sit tight. But as far as challenges go, it’s not a bad one to have.
“Apart from being let down by suppliers, generally when we’ve outsourced core parts of our business, we’ve been lucky enough never to have any huge setbacks.
“A challenging experience for Fonebox and myself is an ongoing one of growing too fast… [and] ensuring that we are not only bringing on new clients and generating more income, but also continuing the great service that we provide to our existing clients to ensure they stay with us,” Grives says.
Despite their rapid growth as a company, sales remain at the core of Grives’ priorities as a business leader.
“Ultimately, sales should be your number one priority. Persistence pays and if you chase business hard, you’ll succeed. Many entrepreneurs focus on building great products/services/systems before they get out the door to sell them, but how can you know what people want without speaking to them first?” he says.
While Fonebox rides the wave of another very successful year, Grives is determined not to leave behind the people who make the business happen.
“We are very lucky to have a diverse group of staff members, many of which are specialists within their field, they are all very passionate and invested which in turn creates a lot of positive drive to help the business succeed. They’re always bouncing around new concepts to improve software, clients experiences, efficiency, highlighting new product ideas, the list is endless!”
Grives believes that keeping the culture and work environment enjoyable for all employees is half the challenge of business growth, and is determined to make it the kind of company that rewards its people, and celebrates its successes together. “I have definitely learnt to invest in people, because as at the end of the day, your staff are your most important asset.”