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Terrel Bird: Technology Pioneer and Business Innovator
By Alexa V. Morgan
February 9, 2015
Terrel Bird is the founder and CEO of TCN, Inc., a provider of cloud-based call center technology for companies worldwide. Bird helped bring Voice over IP communication to the marketplace in 1999, using the internet to revolutionize customer service. Today, TCN’s clients range from local small businesses to several Fortune 500 corporations, collection agencies, financial institutions and the media. The company is developing a new 17,000-square-foot headquarters adjacent to the Tonaquint Data Center, in the heart of Southern Utah’s flourishing tech and business community.
How did you discover the opportunity in VoIP technology?
Most companies need to have access to their customers. I did some research on the future of telephony and communication, and came across an outbound voice application. I figured that if I could get some engineers together, we could write a product that could make this service available to the public.
How has your technology evolved over the past 15 years?
We now have a complete product. We started with outbound, and we’re the very best in outbound. We’re also very good at inbound, and we’re getting better every day. Some of our competitors have to do individual programming in order to bring on a customer. Our platform is built so that we can bring customers on very quickly. Our product is template-based so that it’s available to all of our customers all the time.
How do you keep TCN on the cutting edge of innovation?
We are the cutting edge. We’ve been at this quite a while, and we’re starting to grow very quickly now. We’re in a high-level technology business, and we’ve succeeded because of the depth of our technology.
What makes TCN stand out from the crowd?
Some of our competitors may be focused more on marketing than technology, and we’re finding that to be to our advantage. We’re self-funded, but we compete with companies that, in order to get to where we are, have raised a considerable amount of capital—maybe $50 million to $100 million in venture money. We haven’t taken anybody’s money.
How does Utah’s business community compare to other places you’ve worked?
I think there’s a lot of opportunity to find good people to work with. There seems to be a lot of education, with many colleges and universities in the area. There’s a lot of good, sharp people with a lot of talent. It’s a good place to do business.
You’re married, with 10 children. How do you balance work and family life?
Our family is the most important thing that my wife and I do, and we spend a lot of effort to accomplish success in that area. I just get up really early and work until very late trying to keep every aspect of my life—work, personal—all in check.
What is the key to success in business?
Working with people and respecting their thoughts and ideas. You have to recognize that people are always trying to figure it out, and not be so quick to pass out blame. We just have to keep working together until we find the solutions. If everybody knows that you care about them and they care about you, you can go a long way together.