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Meet Diana Chu of Telzio in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diana Chu.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and was raised by immigrant parents who moved to the US just before I was born. Like many immigrants, my parents’ work options were limited. My childhood memories include hanging out at the flower shop and the car wash, which were among the various small businesses that my parents had throughout the years. I never saw my parents work a 9-5 job. Working for yourself was what I knew.

I went to USC for business and picked Entrepreneurship as my focus. I graduated in three years and wanted to start working right away. But it wasn’t until after I spent nine years working at other companies until I felt had the right team and product to go full time with my own venture.

Telzio all started after I met my co-founder and now husband, Peter, on a random trip to Vegas. At the time, he was still living in Denmark, and I had no idea he was even a programmer. Soon after, I traveled to Denmark and stayed for three months, which is where the ideation and initial product development for Telzio took place. Six months later, Peter moved to LA and we launched the first version of Telzio.

Has it been a smooth road?
The first few years was a roller coaster of ups and downs. In the beginning, it’s a juggling act between working to pay bills and working on the startup. Even after becoming sustainable, it’s a constant challenge to grow faster than the year before. In our industry, billion-dollar companies each spend a million dollars a month easily on Google Ads. Competing as a startup in the telecommunications industry is extremely challenging and daunting.

Working with a significant other has its own set of challenges. At times I struggled with balancing between challenging my partner’s ideas and wanting to be supportive. A lot of the progress we’ve made over the years has come from debating each other’s perspectives and working out the best solution. But as a startup, you can’t just leave work at the office. Startups are inherently stressful, and that can be draining for a relationship. For me personally, it took a few years to learn to leave my emotions out of it. Fortunately, my partner and I have very different skill sets, which helps define roles and areas of decision-making.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Telzio is a telecommunications company – we provide phone service to businesses around the world. Telecommunications is an old, complex industry, and our service is modern, customer-centric, and fun to use. Our customers include small and large businesses, nonprofits, international companies, and brands including Facebook, Lyft, and Airbnb. We’re based in Downtown Los Angeles and also have people in Denmark.

We specialize in building innovative communication solutions for small businesses and enabling small businesses to reap the benefits of the rapidly advancing technologies in our space. We’re known for having a product that’s modern, and for our helpful customer service.

I’m most proud of the technology our team has built. In comparison to the amount of resources our competitors have, our platform is light years ahead in design, usability, reliability, and quality, which is how we’ve managed to 3X our revenue year over year without spending any money on advertising. Early on we weren’t focused on fundraising or even selling, but on building a great product.

Two things set us apart most from our competition. First is design. For the first time ever, phone systems are easy to manage. Second is transparency. Transparency is reflected in everything from our pricing model to our customer service. The telecommunications industry is notorious for hidden fees and aggressive contracts – we aim to change that.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is not the easiest place to start a business simply because of the higher costs of living. There are higher rents, higher salaries, and higher expenses in general. On the other hand, there’s a lot of talent in LA and it’s easier to attract top candidates from other areas who are willing to relocate.

We started our business here because I’ve lived here my whole life and we had the support of an existing network. I wouldn’t recommend moving to LA specifically to start a company, but it’s the best place to live and work once you’re up and running.

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