Venezuelan Entrepreneur Expands Affordable VoIP Infrastructure In Latin America

Saul Lustgarten -- founder and CEO of the Latin American cloud-based communications company, RingTu – is advancing VoIP infrastructure to further startups and small business’ telephone communications in emerging markets.

Reliable communications and business success go hand-in-hand, and thanks to the efforts of Saul Lustgarten, both are increasingly easy to attain in Latin America. Through his cloud communications company RingTu, Lustgarten has made setting up a company phone line accessible and affordable, eliminating one of the greatest barriers to starting a business in the region.

Although Latin American economies have grown rapidly over the past few decades, many experts question whether the region can continue generating jobs and a rising standard of living. Latin American countries have successfully attracted foreign investment and fostered a vibrant manufacturing sector, but have failed to provide adequate support for small businesses, which generate the bulk of the region's high-quality jobs. For these countries to maintain high economic growth rates and extend the benefits of that growth to the common people, they must make it easier for small businesses to obtain credit, market their products, and adopt new technology.

Telecommunications remain one of the region's greatest barriers to entry for small businesses. Entrepreneurs must have reliable phone service long before they can begin making a profit. Without it, there's often no way to communicate with potential clients, employees, providers and creditors. Whether by landline or mobile device, phone service in Latin America remains notoriously unreliable.

In countries without good telecommunications infrastructure, large, established businesses have an advantage over new competitors. Small businesses must spend weeks and pay thousands of dollars to set up landlines, contributing to high startup costs and lengthening the time it takes to make a profit. Small companies can get around these problems by relying on mobile phones, but they will still be susceptible to service interruptions, which also fall particularly hard on small companies. If a large company with multiple offices loses service in one location, it can simply direct clients to call another office until full service is restored. Startups and small businesses don't have this option; every minute their phone lines are down is a minute they can't talk to clients or make money. Without better phone infrastructure, Latin American startups will continue to have trouble breaking into the market and competing with established players.

Having grown up in Venezuela, Saul Lustgarten knows the challenge of starting a business in a country with limited communications and high barriers to entry. To help other entrepreneurs avoid these problems, he created RingTu, a cloud-based telephone company. Founded in January of 2013, RingTu has rapidly grown in popularity, allowing anyone to set up a business phone line in minutes.

Cloud communications involves selling phone access to businesses as a service rather than as a product. Traditionally, companies had to buy phone equipment and software, install it in their offices, and make repairs and updates as needed. In contrast, a virtual phone system doesn’t require any hardware, special phones, office space or technical assistance. For a monthly fee, the cloud communications provider does all the call processing for the client and connects the calls via the Internet or the public service telephone network. This gives small and medium businesses all the advantages of the most advanced phone system in the market, at a fraction of the price.

Lustgarten has made the advantages of cloud computing available throughout Latin America. He founded the company in 2013, designing a prototype and putting together a multinational team of engineers and designers who could set up and market phone service throughout the region. By 2015, RingTu is already operating in 15 Latin American countries as well as Spain, Puerto Rico, and the mainland United States.

Though designed to help small business, RingTu's success would not be possible without the support of big businesses and government entities that recognize the importance of good communications, innovation and entrepreneurship. Chief among these supporters is Wayra, the seed investment arm of the Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica, which provided RingTu with the money it needed to set up a central telephone hub. Wayra chose RingTu and seven other ventures out of 1,215 proposals, believing that the company would play a key role in developing "future 'Silicon Valleys.'"

RingTu also received support from Start-Up Chile, a seed investment fund run by the Chilean government, which selects the best technology startups from around the world and helps them set up shop in the country.
RingTu's aptitude for providing reliable phone service across continents and in difficult markets will be a valuable asset in the coming years. The demand for cloud communications is expected to grow rapidly in Latin America and emerging markets in general, where communications infrastructure often fails to keep pace with rising living standards and wages

To expand, RingTu has fostered strategic partnerships with global telecommunications providers that will help them enter and grow. In its mission to help small and medium businesses operate more efficiently, the company is also planning to launch new products beyond communications so that its clients can continue to increase their productivity and improve their operations by migrating their infrastructure to the cloud.

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