David Liu founded Deltapath during his college years in an effort to communicate with his parents overseas. For the last twenty years, Deltapath has been liberating organizations from the barriers that prevent effective communication.
Please tell us a little bit about your company – what is Deltapath all about?
Deltapath specializes in solutions that unite different business communication platforms such as audio and video equipment, telephones, desktops, and mobile devices into one single platform. Our mission is to simplify and centralize business communications for organizations, enterprises, healthcare systems, call centers, and retail centers.
Deltapath’s solutions empower organizations to relay the right data to the right person at the right time. Real-time communication and accuracy is a critical component to successful business communications internally and externally to customers. Gone are the days of the telephone game when messages were delayed and altered recipient to recipient.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?
My parents were immigrants from Hong Kong and came to the States in the late 70’s. I was born and raised in San Jose, California but also lived abroad in Hong Kong for a number of years due to my father’s job requirement. While attending college in California, my parents were living in Hong Kong, during that time smartphones did not exist and the physical distance brought about communication challenges.
My mom is computer illiterate and it was impossible to teach her how to power on a computer and use a headset to make any type of internet calls and being a college student, long distance calls were a financial challenge. The challenge of being able to talk to my parents drove me to research and develop an IP based phone system that utilizes voice over IP technology. In simple terms, this means that my parents can call a local phone number and I would be able to answer it right from my dorm room, completely free of charge. I was able to make international calls free of charge to my friends and relatives, which sparked a lot of interest in how I was making these calls, especially for friends of families who have offices and factories in foreign countries. This was the catalyst to starting Deltapath which I founded while still in college.
What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why?
- A strong work ethic with a hands on approach, this might sound obvious but I believe there are many misconceptions of what it means to start and run your own company. Entrepreneurship is often glamorized with making your own hours and being your own boss, but I think it’s important to know that it more than likely means you are working around the clock, wearing multiple hats and filling the gaps in your team. It is an amazing journey, but it is not as easy as it is sometimes portrayed.
- The ability to cope with uncertainty and ambiguity, a start-up is very fluid and things change dramatically and drastically. There are no official rules or procedures to follow in the beginning, you will need to adapt and be flexible to develop these along the way and on the fly in order to remain agile.
- High Emotional Intelligence, often referred to as EQ, means that you have the ability to gracefully handle the variety of emotions and personalities you encounter from your employees, customers, vendors and investors. Having the ability to make decisions based on logic and reasoning while managing the variety of people around you is an important skill to have.
What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company?
Deltapath’s philosophy at its core is about achieving a greater purpose with technology. For example, we invested heavily in creating healthcare technology to bring more efficient and effective communication to healthcare workers, with an overarching goal to improve the quality of patient care and emergency response time.
As we look ahead, we plan to develop our footprint in powering cloud service providers to enable them to operate their own UCaaS. We have won signature regional carriers to use Deltapath technology to power their UCaaS. Our growth path will be focused in that segment of the market, to be an upstream UCaaS technology provider.
How do you separate yourself from your competitors?
Our approach is always to simplify the technology and the process to adopt the technology into your business communications – we want to make your life better.
By focusing on the principal we have naturally differentiated ourselves from any competition. For example, to adopt a competitors technology it is typically a single vendor solution, which means you would have to buy everything from network gear to UC servers and endpoints from a single brand. This approach is costly, inefficient and brings unexpected problems.
Our approach is bridging the different manufacturer’s communications systems so that you can have your Cisco system talk to Microsoft Teams or Polycom, etc.
What were the top three mistakes you made starting your business, and what did you learn from them?
- Hiring for the wrong reasons that we thought were the right reasons. During the initial phase of starting Deltapath, we recruited and hired based solely on skills and experience. As the company evolved, I realized the company culture had really shifted and was no longer the positive and uplifting culture I desired to have. Company culture is so important to me that I hit the reset button and hired a brand new team. From that point on, we have focused our hiring criteria on cultural fits for the company and the team the position will work within.
- Building our team based on the situation in the room and not from the battlefield of start-up experience. As we built our team, we were excited to bring in experienced executives from established brand name companies in our industry. Although these executives came with the experience and skills we desired, they would always experience culture shock because a start-up company is going to be very different from a publicly listed, ISO compliant company that has a solid team to support execution of ideas from the top.
- Assuming that my team was as comfortable with ambiguity and rapid change as I was. As an entrepreneur with a technology start-up company, I was very adept at adapting and moving quickly. But I realised early on that not everyone on the team was as comfortable, which did not leave those team members with a lot of space to contribute. I had some team members who were more shy that expressed interest in learning more about how the company was doing as a whole and the upcoming direction. This taught me that not everyone is going to be comfortable adapting and speaking up on the fly, so I created regular All Hands meetings to share what is “in your head” creating a platform that everyone can feel comfortable to contribute.
How do you go about marketing your business, and what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?
While it is important to have brand exposure in media mentions and third party validation from industry analysts, we discovered it is equally important to offer a “try before you buy” mentality. Most decision-makers are prone to picking the safe choice, i.e. the brand name vendor from a magic quadrant. However, we have found that in most cases when the decision maker has an opportunity to experience our powerful products, they ultimately choose to move forward with our services.
What must happen for you to consider your business a success? When do you predict it will happen?
I think always being invited to an RFP (Request For Proposal) would be a defining moment of success and credibility, it will mean Deltapath has gained critical mass and is in the minds of prospective customers.
What are the top 3 online tools and resources you’re currently using to grow your company?
- ERPNext is an open-source integrated Enterprise Resource Planning software used by service providers to centralize and manage your business data, accounting books, employee payroll documents and lead development.
- OwnCloud is used similarly to a Dropbox, but allows you to build your own secure online storage without breaking the bank. It is easy to share files securely both internally and externally in real-time.
- Zammad is a helpdesk software that allows you to stay on top of and tack all customer requests, ensuring you meet your SLAs (Service Level Agreements)
What are three books or courses would you recommend to entrepreneurs?
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose – Tony Hsieh
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
- On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
When I started my company, I was in college and I only had a year of internships completed at that time, leaving me with limited experience as an employee. If I were to start again, I would give myself a couple of years to purely work as an employee to have an opportunity to gain more insights to each individual’s mindset in a typical enterprise. That experience would help me to be more empathic as I lead my team.
If you only had $1,000 dollars to start a new business, knowing everything you know now, how would you spend it?
I would spend it on developing a killer product before anything else.
What is your favorite quote?
“Making The Impossible Possible.”
This is a motto that we have within our company and we invite our customers to adopt this same mindset and throw ideas at us. We want to innovate, create and provide far beyond the possibilities.
Who should we interview next and why?
Bill Strickland, the author of Make The Impossible Possible because it is an inspiring concept that I think everyone can adopt into their life in some way.