I’ve always had a fascination with telephones. I find something magic in the way we can project our voices across great distances, communicating more quickly and richly than we can with text alone. About the time Voice over IP (VoIP) became feasible, I began my career in technology. As voice became “yet another application” for the all-reaching Internet, I perceived great changes looming for an industry that had seen little innovation for generations. I was excited to be a part of it.
Early on, my focus was in system administration; later, in architecture. I was passionate about integrating disparate systems and making them manageable. Starting out I was responsible for only a handful of servers, but those numbers quickly grew to double digits, triple digits, quadruple digits…. At each leap it became more and more important—and the need more and more obvious—to ensure that the various technology services under my aegis were fast, secure, and always available. To accomplish this, everything needed to work together.
When I decided to start my own business, I looked at the kinds of technology small businesses needed but were unable to acquire and manage effectively. At the time, there were few offerings available that integrated web hosting, email hosting and telephone systems. I envisioned a unified technology stack that provided a turnkey system and enabled small teams to work together—regardless of where they were. By 2012, these services had evolved into the Cloud PBX market, but in 2006, the road to such hosted services wasn’t as clear. In the quest to realize an integrated, turnkey system, I knew I’d need to integrate the telephony world with the Internet world. That need led me to Asterisk.
Asterisk was (and is) a very capable communications software package, but I needed a way for customers to manage their extensions and calling features more easily. While plenty of robust and mature frameworks existed in the web world back then, much of the telephony application software languished in disuse. Finding updates and bug fixes and/or tracking down issues and fixing them became a job in itself. Most libraries didn’t keep up with Asterisk’s pace of change, and that meant more work for me. Then I discovered Adhearsion. At the time, I wasn’t a Ruby developer. In the system administration world, the predominant languages are Shell and Perl. But Ruby’s syntax was so straightforward, and the framework design so elegant, Ruby won me over. The more I used it, the more I found myself enjoying the creation of backend software.
That said, it didn’t take long to realize that creating a groundbreaking product while simultaneously trying to sell and support that product was not a successful strategy for my one-man operation. While I believed in the potential of the market, short of a large outside investment and the subsequent ability to hire, I wasn’t going anywhere fast. As I attempted to balance the demands of my fledgling business, another path became clear. Customers and those in the Open Source community began to call and ask about voice application design, ideas, and capabilities. As the inquiries mounted, it became apparent that voice application development was an area of great need. So I decided to reorient everything around that area. I subsequently migrated away from service customers and toward software development work.
Within six months, I’d hired my first employee. A year later, the team had grown to five. By the beginning of 2013, Mojo Lingo had nearly doubled in size, up to nine employees. I’ve worked hard to assemble a Mojo Lingo team that consists of smart, innovative people. Voice application development is an exciting market to be in and one that’s in dire need of innovation. With razor-sharp focus, we at Mojo Lingo have been able to deliver big ideas in small amounts of time, and to astonish those who’d yet to realize the potential of Internet telephony.
Where does Mojo Lingo go from here? I’m not exactly sure what’s coming around the corner, but I’m quite confident this is just the beginning of this market. As such, I consider it not only my job but my duty—and the duty of everyone on the Mojo Lingo team—to innovate and create voice applications that improve the ability to communicate in real time, across multiple platforms and devices, and that work like magic.