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Grasshopper is everywhere

Original Article

Forbes features Grasshopper - Why You Should Think Like a Fortune 500 CEO from Day 1- and Other Branding Lessons from Grasshopper.

If you're an entrepreneur and use a phone system for business (other than your personal cell) you're probably using Grasshopper. At the very least, you've probably heard of the virtual phone system that enable entrepreneurs to work from anywhere while maintaining a professional presence.

Since first launching in 2003, Grasshopper has become the brand synonymous with "phone" for entrepreneurs. How exactly did the company manage to dominate the category like that? Yes, lots of hard work, but after speaking with Grasshopper Co-Founder and CEO Siamak Taghaddos, here are a few other take-aways that struck me from their story.

1. Think like a Fortune 500 company from Day 1.

When I asked Taghaddos about his marketing in the earliest days and how it changed over time, he shared with me that he never viewed the company as a startup. Even from Day 1, the brand was built with the mindset of "what would a Fortune 500 company do?" They took risks with marketing and explored channels that were still new and innovative. They sought to be first movers and were not too concerned with sticking to the tried and true. And yes, they bootstrapped the company back then and 9 years later, continue to build it quite successfully without outside capital.

2. If you're going to re-brand, go bold or go home.

Around 2008, after being in business for 5 years and already hitting the Inc. 500, Taghaddos and his business partner, Co-Founder and CTO David Hauser, looked into the future and saw potential trouble on the horizon. The economy was faltering, they didn't think their growth trajectory was sustainable, and perhaps most troubling of all, they thought the name of their business at that time (Got Vmail) would ultimately limit their growth. Got Vmail was difficult to remember, which made it hard to share via word of mouth. Developing a brand and then realizing you picked the wrong name is not an uncommon situation for entrepreneurs. Businesses evolve and sometimes companies simply outgrow the names they initially chose. What to do if you find yourself in that situation? Well, if you're Grasshopper, you use the anticipated slowdown as a chance to boldly unleash an innovative re-branding campaign. In honor of their new name, Grasshopper sent 25,000 chocolate dipped grasshoppers to a list of 5000 entrepreneurial influencers. If that doesn't get people talking, I don't know what will. The result? The cost per acquisition for their advertising went down by 50 percent as their word of mouth referrals increased by the same amount. Amazing!