This post originally appeared on the Louisiana Tech Park blog.
Jill Nelson, who as founder and CEO of Ruby Receptionists has guided the Oregon tech company from startup to thriving industry player over 15 years, is set to share her fascinating entrepreneurial journey during a keynote address at Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week.
Founded in 2003, Ruby Receptionists provides personalized, live virtual-receptionist services to thousands of small businesses throughout North America. The company serves busy professionals in numerous fields, including lawyers, marketers, IT consultants, real estate professionals and financial planners.
Nelson started the company with little business experience, but now has about 500 full-time employees. “Our story is one of equal parts people and technology,” says Nelson, who spoke to us ahead of her BREW keynote address set for Wednesday, Nov. 14. Here’s a peek at what she’ll be discussing.
An Early Pivot Leads to Success
Nelson had been a receptionist to a business broker, then was a broker herself, and in the early 2000s she became interested in an emerging predecessor to co-working spaces called executive suites. These properties were class A office spaces with areas that were leased to small businesses. Property owners provided essential services like shared receptionists and secretaries, conference room space and copy machines.
“But I had no money and I had no business experience, so I couldn’t find a landlord willing to build that out,” Nelson says. Instead, she says, she focused her attention on the concept of providing high-quality receptionist services for small businesses.
“That just really took off,” she says. “It was like getting a door slammed in your face from day one and pivoting to something that turned out to be super-scalable.”