It’s Service Over Technology

By Stephen Hon
Wednesday - October 10, 2007
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Stephen Hon
Dialogix crew:Bobby Care, Rosi Correia, Scott Poarch, Stephen Hon, Angela Savage, Amelinda Ornelau and Edgar Madrid

When I wake up on Monday mornings, the first word that goes through my head is “Awesome! Today is Monday and I get to go to work.”

You think I’m joking. I’m not. I love my job. I’m totally excited about working with the people I work with and facing the challenges we face in our line of work and overcoming them.

Not many people can say that about their job. And though I am one of the founders of the company, I am certainly not the reason why this company is so great to work at.

When the company was created almost four years ago, I was a junior at the UH College of Business, taking a class with Howard Wittenberg on entrepreneurialism and enjoying it immensely. One of the requirements for the course was to write a business plan, and since the class’s timing was right in line with the UH Business Plan Competition, my business partner and I were strongly encouraged to participate.

So we did, and ... we didn’t win. But laboring through the months-long exercise allowed us to get our business plan vetted by people in all walks of life- professors, business leaders, other students, parents, you name it.

Consequently, that summer I dropped out of school and pursued what would later become one of the most challenging and most rewarding things that I’ve ever done. (Anyone considering bootstrapping a new company and living to tell about it, I commend you.)

For the first two years of the life of the company we struggled. By struggling, I mean worrying about finances, worrying if we were going to get to market soon enough, worrying if our customers were going to stay with us, worrying if we were developing the right product and so on and so forth. But after those two years, we had created a product with great value that was desired by many companies.

Today, the product we provide has little to do with the technology. Possibly less than half of the value to our customers is the technological solution. Rather, it is all of the service and support that surrounds the technology that makes our product truly valuable to our customers.

We discovered our true value in the market place in the following two years of the life of the company. It was at that time when I finally realized that I was never going to take the company anywhere because though I was technically savvy, I wouldn’t be able to provide excellent customer service on my own. I gratefully gave up a chunk of the equity in the company to a business partner, who at the time was just a really helpful friend. Scott Poarch came on board as director of operations officially in early 2006 and transformed our company from being technology-driven to a company driven by service. In little more than 18 months we grew from one full-time and two part-time employees to 11 full-time employees, with seven being based in our downtown Honolulu office.

One of the biggest reasons why I love going to work is because I work with a great group of people. We have never lost an employee. The feedback we have received from our employees is that they love working for Dialogix as much as we like working with them. Each person is empowered to fulfill their role in the organization and they act as such. Certainly, mistakes are made, as in any environment where you are allowed and unafraid to innovate on your own. However, we support them in preventing that mistake from happening in the future. I am unceasingly impressed and not unusually surprised at the individual progress and growth each employee has been demonstrating.

Today, we are very excited about where we are going as a company. We are strongly confident in our capability to service our customers: Onboarding them quickly and efficiently, assisting them to slash their upfront and recurring expenses and creating communications solutions supports their business needs.

Our expansion to San Francisco is another exciting opportunity for us. Dialogix fits in well to this new market, as it has many of the same characteristics as Honolulu. It is densely populated and very relationship-oriented. There exist many young owner-operators of companies who are not afraid to outsource the components of their company that are not part of their core competency.

Stephen Hon is the CEO and President of Dialogix Telecom, a leading commercial data and voice service provider in Hawaii and San Francisco Bay Area. Originally, from the Bay Area, he has lived in Honolulu for more than nine years. For comments, contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Dialogix Telecom is a DBA name of HONTECH LLC.

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