Depending on how you look at it, startups have the luxury (or curse?) of having to get creative when it comes to otherwise standard business practices. Take telephone systems, for example. Where an enterprise might have an established international telecoms network, a startup may have freelancers or telecommuters across the globe without the same resources to support them. Faced with this challenge, many are turning to revolutionary collaboration software, like Slack, but even that is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution…

This was the case for my team at APIdaze in 2014. As a rapidly growing company with customers and employees sprouting up all over the world, we needed a reliable way to communicate via chat, email and phone. Our hardware infrastructure was outdated so we began using Slack which gave us flexibility for more advanced features. It was the internal messaging solution we were looking for but there was something missing– it didn’t have the voice support we needed. So we decided to take matters into our own hands.

We saw the opportunity to fuse Slack’s API with our own WebRTC API and APIdaze API, which is a full-stack communications toolbox for integrating real-time voice, video and messaging features into apps. To enhance what we had created, we got some help from our friends at Voxbone to add a high quality provisioning API. The end product was a combination of over 5 APIs from 4 different providers, which we named Ottspott. (If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of Ottspott’s origin story, check out this article: How we built a Slack phone bot, and where we’re heading next.)

We built Ottspott in less than two months. With it, we had our basic phone system installed for handling sales and support outbound and inbound calls. Since the Slack integration was such a success, we began sharing with other Slack-enabled teams. Now they’re able to reach the same quality voice results. The word got out, demand has skyrocketed and we’ve been growing ever since.

The moral of the Ottspott story, to all the startups out there, is that it is easier to build your own phone system using APIs than it is to deal with individual telcos and phone systems in different countries. We recommend putting in the time and shopping around for the best providers and APIs, as we did with Voxbone and our other partners. Don’t opt towards perceived convenience; your workforce is unique and flexible, so build a solution to reflect that.

By Luis Borges Quina, CEO of APIdaze