Virtual PBX companies, like any other kind of company, start with entrepreneurs. Hover Networks, a provider of home and business virtual PBX systems, is a superb example. Here is the epic tale of how one man wove his way through the emerging tech industry and created a lucrative VoIP company.
Hover Networks is headed by Darren Ascone, a Buffalo tech scene veteran. Ascone went to University at Buffalo and quickly jumped into the startup scene by working for website company Edgenet. Sean Hus Var, who started Edgenet, took a liking to Ascone and has been working for him ever since. Riding on the tech boom wave, Edgenet grew and eventually sold to a little company that is now known as Earthlink.
It was with Hus Var that Ascone started his first company: Chek.com, a site that provided companies with vanity email addresses. Chek.com’s clients offered their customers email addresses that ended with “@brandname.com” or the like, garnering free advertising and offering sports fans and others a way to show their pride.
With Ascone as its Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chek.com exploded from an idea to a company with over 150 employees. Despite Chek.com’s success, Ascone hit the road three years after starting the company because, as he told the Buffalo News, “I didn’t love it anymore.” He is, however, still a shareholder in the company.
Chek.com has been renamed Synacor and expanded into other services. In keeping with the times, it now offers TV, communication, and electronic companies a way to offer their clients content on computers, tablets, and mobile devices.
After a few years of investing and tech consulting, fate led our hero to the VoIP business. Ascone become COO of Vaspian, a Buffalo-based virtual PBX company, where he learned the ins and outs of the VoIP industry. Soon, though, the economy turned sour, and in 2009 Vaspian let Ascone go. As it turns out, that was a big mistake.
The same day he was fired, Ascone met with Hus Var and another tech industry guru, Sarah Quinlan, at a TGI Friday’s and hatched a plan to compete with Vaspian. With Quinlan as the new company’s COO and Ascone as the CEO, the group raised $250,000 for Hover Networks and started off. Things went well right of the bat. “Finally we had a business that was a utility, basically, and generated revenue right away,” Hus Var commented to Buffalo News.
Today, Hover Networks has around 350 clients and 10 employees. It focuses on finding unique problem-solvers for individual clients. Meanwhile Vaspian has recovered from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and is Hover Networks’ main competitor. “I wish [Hover Networks] success,” the company’s VP told the press. “Competition can be healthy.” In other words, no hard feelings, Ascone.
Happily Ever After?
Ascone may be happy at Hover Networks, but he continues to invest in other tech businesses. With a track record like his, it’s safe to say he probably has more up his sleeve for Hover Networks… and maybe for other startups as well. Only time will reveal what the rest of this tech story holds.
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