Ray Pasquale wants to change the universe and he’s not ashamed to admit it.
“I told friends of mine early on that I’m going to try and pull a Steve Jobs in an industry that’s in sore, sore need of innovation,” he tells ChannelE2E
That industry is the communications sector. And it was that drive and determination that led him to launch Unified Office.
Before starting his own business, Pasquale worked for companies like Cascade Communications, Lucent and most recently Sonus Networks. “We built all this big iron that had to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and survive earthquakes at the same time,” he jokes.
Finding The Hole
He first became acquainted with VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) while at Sonus. The company’s technology took traditional phone calls and converted them into something that could be transmitted over broadband Internet. That’s simple stuff these days. But VoIP wasn’t always so easy.
The potential for the technology was clear, but Pasquale could also see the drawbacks. “They just weren’t as reliable and dependable as the old-fashioned phone networks that we grew up with and that really held the market back,” he says.
He took a year off after leaving the company in 2009 to think about his future. Eventually, he pinpointed the hole in the communications market: A lack of innovation. That realization was the push he needed to start Unified Offices in Nashua, N.H.
Ray Pasquale was going to fix VoIP by making it as reliable as traditional phone networks. “But that wasn’t where I was going to stop because what I really wanted to do was turn this industry on its head,” he asserts.
Filling The Hole
Think of it like this: If a delivery restaurant has five phone lines and seven people calling in, two people are going to get busy signals. Given today’s on-demand culture, those two people will likely call somewhere else, resulting in lost revenue for the restaurant.
So Unified Office set out to create communication services for the Quick Service Restaurant [QSR] market that could reliably receive as many calls as needed. “They were in search of a technology that could handle the inbound demand. They knew instinctively they were missing orders. They couldn’t prove it, but they kind of knew it,” he says. The only way to do that, according to Pasquale, was to use VOIP.
The company spent up to three years engineering various solutions. They started to slowly roll out their product in 2013 and by mid-2014 they were hitting the market hard. Since then, Pasquale says the company’s growth rate has been exponential and most of that success has to do with the QSR market. “They’re tougher than the carriers were on us at Sonus Networks,” he says. “Their stuff has got to be up. It’s got to run. It’s got to be rock solid.”
Putting a number on how much extra revenue is generated is hard to quantify, according to Pasquale. But he says customers are happy with the results.
Expanding to IoT
The company recently announced it’s adding Internet of Things (IoT) management capabilities to its communications and business analytics platform. It’s an important move for Pasquale who doesn’t want his company to be pinned down as just a VoIP provider.
According to Pasquale, this feature will be especially useful in the QSR market. “For these folks, it’s a big deal when the health department goes in and you’re not meeting your temperatures. They’ll shut them down, they’ll close you up, or they’ll make you throw food away or both,” he says.
Now with this new technology, dubbed Total Connect Now, companies can monitor refrigeration temperatures to ensure food never spoils. Unified Office also uses of algorithms that predict when a piece of equipment is about to fail and notifies the owners. “Now when the health inspector comes in they’re not relying on the workers to periodically log the temperatures,” he says. “Our sensors and technology are doing it for them in real time.”
The next big step, according to Pasquale, will involve bacteria detection. He says the technology exists, but it’s still cost-prohibitive at the moment. But once the price point comes down, Unified Office’s services will be able to use UV lights to detect bacteria levels in kitchens. “If we start doing stuff like that you’re really moving the needle for these folks,” he says. “You’re bringing stuff that’s available to these large corporations down to these SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses).”
The Millennial Paradigm
Modern culture favors fast results. We order cars to our doors from our phones, money is sent around the world with the push of a button, and we shop at stores in far-flung cities from the comfort of our own couches.
We don’t wait for things anymore and, as Pasquale points out, which means companies must change or die. “I’m not willing to wait for almost anything these days,” he laughs. “It’s tragic but that’s what we’ve become.”
The way he sees it, communications companies have not kept up with these changes. In Pasquale’s mind, the market is filled with companies that are unwilling or unable to adapt. “And I’m going to do everything in my power not to wind up like all these other companies, trapped by our early successes,” he says.
Innovation and disruption are pillars in the tech world. They are the winds that push change. It’s something that Pasquale thinks about a lot. And he laughs quietly when he thinks of venture capital firms trying to manufacture that energy. “They hope to create the next Zuckerberg,” he says. “Well, that’s not how it’s done.
“It’s done by some crazy guy like Ray Pasquale sitting in an office space in Nashua quietly disrupting the universe. Or at least trying to.”