Chattanooga Startup ring-u Brings Low-Cost “Plug And Play” Phone Service To Small Businesses

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A new Chattanooga company is offering internet-based “plug and play” phone systems for small businesses. ring-u, which launched in late 2017, offers low-cost, no-contract voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone service for two to 20 lines and up to 50 extensions. Regional test customers began using ring-u in 2017, and the company now has customers in 26 states. 


Service is built around the Hello Hub, a small computer designed by founder Phil Sieg and cofounder Mike Harrison that makes configuring phones and phone service a “do-it-yourself” project.

Customers buy the Hello Hub—currently available on Amazon or the company’s web site—then purchase phone service from ring-u. Customers can also buy phones from ring-u or any other vendor, or use existing phones.


Customers pay monthly fees, and no contract is required. Pricing is based on phone lines, not number of employees or extensions and is significantly lower than most phone systems, according to Sieg.


“We don't do contracts,” said Mr. Sieg. “We believe contracts are used by companies that are charging you too much and providing you with too little. Customer retention should be a function of keeping you happy with both price and service.” 


Anyone can set up the ring-u phone system right out of the box in just a few minutes, and there’s no need for set up on individual phones.


“Commercial phone system installations typically require a technician, but we designed ring-u to be a simple, do-it-yourself product,” said Mr. Harrison. “Initial setup takes about 15 minutes and is comparable to configuring an office printer. Once initial setup is complete, the system reaches out and configures individual phones.”


As they each built multiple successful tech companies, Mr. Sieg and Mr. Harrison became well acquainted with the high cost and complexity of phone systems. When Sieg was growing his first business, the quote he received for a phone system was so high that he built one himself because he couldn’t afford to buy one. 


“We joke that we hate phone companies so much that we built one,” said Mr. Sieg. “That’s pretty close to the truth.


“Our phone system is about the price of an office laser printer, and other systems are about the price of a car,” said Mr. Harrison. 


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