The trick, Caleb Steinbacher said, is just getting people to know his business exists.
No, not just the company that he founded — binaryPBX in Kingston — but the actual service he provides.
That would be Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems. And yes, he realizes that the mention of it causes some people’s eyes to glaze over.
So what does work? Telling them how much their business may be able to save over time with a customized, internet-based system as opposed to one that requires a separate phone line for every employee.
“Any time I can get someone to listen to me and understand what we do, I haven’t had an issue with them purchasing,” said Steinbacher, the company’s CEO. “Just to get them to understand I’m trying to save them money, keep a bigger percentage, that’s the hardest part of it.”
Part of it is the terminology, which can be unfamiliar. PBX, for example, stands for Private Branch Exchange, which is a phone network that allows a company to communicate through an internal system as well as externally with the world.
Another part is that the technology is just starting to grow in Northeastern Pennsylvania. One of the reasons that Steinbacher moved to the area in 2016 and ultimately got binaryPBX fully up and running last October was that he felt the region was being underserved with regards to phone systems.
“There was an opportunity to be had, especially on the technological side, of being here,” Steinbacher said.
It helped prompt him to become his own boss and make it his full-time job.
Steinbacher had previously worked as a rental car representative while also working for five years in telephony.
“I became a contractor with a bigger company (Crosstalk Solutions) that does the same thing,” Steinbacher said. “I realized that NEPA really needed something like this. So I decided to branch off on my own. I’m still with that company — the management there encourages that.”
He has since opened up an office on Division Street in Kingston.
By starting up his own shop, Steinbacher aims to deliver a personal touch to his customers, first by helping them tailor their system to their own company and then by being available to provide service directly when needed.
But the key for the start-up is still getting a foot in the door with potential customers.
One tactic is a free service offered on his website, binaryPBX.com, which allows businesses to submit their phone bills for analysis to see if a VoIP system can reduce costs.
“People are blown away when they see the difference in price,” Steinbacher said. “I have some who still call me and thank me months later.”
An example he cited in an article he published on LinkedIn was how one of his customers — a South Carolina car dealership with two locations and 12 employees — spent $4,330 to install a VoIP system. That decreased its monthly bill from an average of $569.17 per month to $46.85 per month, creating a return on the initial investment in eight months.
While able to work with customers all over, Steinbacher said he would like to stay local with his customer base, and that the area has helped him get the business off the ground.
“There’s a lot of very nice people around here,” said Steinbacher, who has been in touch with other local entrepreneurs such as Jason Percival at NEPA Geeks computer repair and Chris Hacken at Loop Internet, both of whose businesses are based in Wilkes-Barre. “They’ve been a really useful resource.”
In time, and with further local growth, Steinbacher hopes to be able to expand from his current staff of three part-time employees, adding another full-time worker by the end of the year.
“Of course, it’s mostly trying to get your name known and let people know the service exists,” Steinbacher said. “When you’re competing against Verizon and Comcast and those types, you have to get people to call you instead of them.
“… If you’re calling Verizon any time because your phone’s down, you might not always get someone. Any customers have my direct number to get things up and working.”
As with any new business, there’s still plenty of work to be done. And binaryPBX is looking forward to it.
“It’s been a fun ride, I’ll say that,” Steinbacher said. “You don’t know what the next day is going to bring. It’s certainly been an adventure.”
Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse