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VoIP Pioneer Stresses Importance of Taking Risks, Learning from Failure

March 25, 2013
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Great people have used their loneliness to inspire ideas, Jeff Pulver, the co-founder of Vonage, told School of Business students in February at the as part of the Hillel Business Leadership Talks.

Pulver said he grew up a lonely child in Long Island, New York. It was his feelings of isolation from his peers, however, that drew him into world of voice technology. While visiting his uncle at his work, Pulver discovered the Ham Radio and was mesmerized by its ability to connect with people all over the world.

“I realized that my uncle had the cure for loneliness,” said Pulver. “I thought, ‘If only I could take this radio back to my room.’”

A few decades later, Pulver essentially created just that with his innovations in online voice technology. He is a pioneer in the Voice-over-IP (VoIP) industry and the chief executive and founder of pulver.com.

“I had no background in telecommunications or anything like that,” said Pulver. “I am a modern day Forrest Gump.” He attributes his success to his own willpower. Planning his first technology conference was like playing roulette, said Pulver. Taking a gamble, he put the expenses for it on his American Express card.

“There is a lot of heart and soul in what you do,” said Pulver. “If you believe in something, you can make it happen.”

Pulver stressed the importance of reaching out to others as well, saying he spends a lot of time finding people to “believe in.”

“If you can believe in someone, you can invest in them,” said Pulver.

According to Pulver, believing in people can go a long way; sometimes it only takes the support, for them to succeed. “I’d rather be the first person to believe in that person,” said Pulver. “The person that has one million, they don't need me. It’s just money.”

As much success as he has had in his career, Pulver believes the best learning tool is failure. “Failure is wonderful,” said Pulver. “As an entrepreneur, you have to find your own style and stick with it.  You learn more from people’s failures than you do their success.”

Pulver was brought to the School through a program sponsored by the Tamid Israel Investment Group, the Alcalay Brothers Association and Hillel Miami.

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