qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalists: eziDialer – Q&A

eziDialer - logo

1. What is eziDialer?

eziDialer is a patentable internet application that allows the integration of a user’s mobile phone with their latest cloud business applications.

It is a disruptive technology (an innovation that displaces an established technology with a ground-breaking product to create a completely new industry) designed to accelerate the decline of fixed business phone service for small businesses. eziDialer will also create new market opportunities for start-ups to build mobile applications for businesses to enable them to efficiently run their businesses while on the road.

2. Who are the people behind eziDialer?

The team consists of:

  • Simon Horne, an international communications expert and entrepreneur with two communication patents and four international telecommunication standards. He has 15 years hands-on experience building communication businesses in Asia, the US and Australia including founding a Silicon Valley start-up BlueJeans.com in 2010, which raised $100 million for venture capital funding and is currently valued at over $500 million. Simon has represented two countries at the UN on communication matters and is currently a mentor at River City Labs and iLab.
  • Tylor Stewart, who is part of the winning team at River City Labs’ Startup Weekend and is a founding member and current treasurer of QUT Code.

3. What is your connection(s) to QUT?

Simon holds two degrees from QUT, one in Engineering (1993) and an MBA (2000). Tylor is currently undertaking a bachelor of Information Technology at QUT.

4. How long have you been operating as a business?

 The start-up is brand new and has only been operating since July 2015.

5. How did you come up with the idea for eziDialer?

Simon was the coach of Tylor’s team who won River City Labs’ Startup Weekend with the idea to build a more efficient call centre using VoIP technology. After the event and analysing the concept as a potential business opportunity, they discovered it was not unique as there were already a number of well-funded start-ups in the market.

Taking a leaf out of the Uber book that states ‘people dislike call centres’ and ‘people don’t answer calls they think come from call centres’ (no caller ID or a fixed phone number), it was agreed that the business needed to pivot. Simon and Tylor did not want their product to be a superior technology that people disliked using but fortunately Simon woke up one morning with the patentable concept.

6. Do you have any previous experiences in start-ups or business?

Both Simon and Tylor have previous experience in the start-up environment. Simon has 15 years experience running international start-ups in Asia, the US and Australia with the most successful being the conceptualisation, joining and building of the Silicon Valley start-up, BlueJeans.com.

Tylor has previous start-up experience from running a successful mobile phone repair business in Hervey Bay.

7. What has been your biggest challenge with eziDialer to date?

Recruitment and the ability to find more QUT students willing to step out of their programming comfort zone and joining a start-up.

8. What has been your biggest success with eziDialer so far?

Execution and building a proof of concept in 48 hours, only three days after inventing the eziDialer idea.

9. Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

Simon has tracked his own course as an entrepreneur as it is more of a personal journey and what has worked for him may not work for someone else. 

He is motivated (to disprove) the writings of his distant cousin and author Donald Horne’s The Lucky Country (written in the 1960s but is still relevant today). The book is a social commentary on Australia and discusses what is right and wrong with the nation and why Australia’s luck is more along the lines of Steven Bradbury luck (to succeed unexpectedly or unusually) rather than hard work creates luck. Simon’s fear is that Australia’s luck is running out unless we take action.

He is influenced by Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009) and how businesses should focus on their vision and how customers share that vision and Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (2014) and how great business leaders attract and motivate staff and building loyalty by being the first one on the battlefield and the last one to enjoy the victory.

10. What would it mean to you and your start-up to win the Innovation Challenge?

It would mean the ability to plant a seed that will hopefully grow and create both eziDialer and a general start-up ecosystem from which young motivated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduates (especially computer science) can hone their skills, make some money and go off and start their own technology start-ups. In doing so, this will demonstrate to risk-adverse investors that start-ups are very much worth the risk and attract the required investment.