It’s been just over a year since Joe Stinziano joined First Orion as its president and COO.
Not everything went exactly as planned, admits the 12-year Samsung Electronics North America veteran. They had to fight through some things inside and outside of their control, including macroeconomic conditions.
But “all through it, we’ve been really happy and pleased with the growth. It’s been a crazy, fun, wild ride over the past year for me personally, for sure,” he told Fierce.
First Orion today announced that it surpassed 1 billon branded calls for the year. Being a private company, it doesn’t reveal the number of customers using its products and services, but said its customer base has experienced 3X growth over the past 12 months.
Importantly, as of this month, it can now say the third carrier is on board, meaning it can use the networks of all three of the big U.S. carriers – AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
“All the stuff is coming together at a time when our growth has been tremendous,” Stinziano said. “Now I think we’re poised as an industry, as a company, to start to see the exponential growth and really hit the next level of growth for branded calling.”
Connecting with customers
It’s easy to see why he sees so much growth ahead. Most consumers have stopped answering calls from phone numbers they don’t recognize due to robocalls and other scams. With branded calling, businesses pay to have their identity associated with a number so the consumer knows who’s calling.
For example, if a health insurance company is calling, their name will show up on the patient’s smartphone as the call is coming through, or if it goes unanswered, it may appear in the call log.
Stinziano said the story is a lot simpler now that it’s working with all three U.S. carriers. Basically, the customer tells First Orion which phone numbers it needs to target and how they want their name to display on the consumer’s device. Of course, there’s a behind-the-scenes vetting process, but once that’s done, they’re good to go.
Some of First Orion’s clients that have given the OK to be publicly named are Ashley Furniture, Blink Health, Lawyer.com and Freedom Financial Services.
Other companies in the branded calling space include Transaction Network Services (TNS) and Hiya. Late last year, First Orion and Hiya joined Neustar and TNS to form a partnership to unify enterprise call vetting and authentication practices.
Stinziano said First Orion, which is about 15 years old, created the concept of branded calling and has made a lot of partnerships along the way, including with technology providers like Amazon Connect as more customers move to cloud platforms.
First Orion has about 400 employees and most of them are in central Arkansas; the company is based in North Little Rock. It also has a team in Bellevue, Washington, primarily supporting T-Mobile, and network-focused employees stationed around the country. A couple hundred employees are data scientists or analysts, with a large portion of the company dedicated to technology development, he said.
Now that they’ve gotten some momentum under their feet and the branded calling space is poised for growth, First Orion expects to bump up its marketing efforts, getting in front of more people at trade shows, speaking at conferences and generating leads in the SMB space, he said.