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GotVMail is now Grasshopper

Grasshopper logo

Hope they didn’t pay for that logo and tagline!

Nearly the entire Shoestring Publications staff is busy whipping the second edition of The Startup Bible into shape for a New Year’s unveiling, so we’re also busy revisiting and re-reviewing all of the resources we recommended in the first edition. Among the very top recommendations we gave one year ago was for virtual PBX (private branch exchange) service, GotVMail, which we called “the best dollar-for-dollar value in the hosted PBX lineup.” In fact, we liked it so much so that we used it here in the offices until June, and our PR firm also used it — that is, until we fired them back in May).

Well, GotVMail is now Grasshopper, still, in our opinion, one of the best virtual PBX values, but with a brand new, genuinely mystifying logo (maybe they should have read our post on cheap logos) and an even more mystifying tagline.

For historians of the ephemeral, here’s our original write-up of GotVMail in The Startup Bible:

We consider GotVMail one of the best dollar-for-dollar bargains in the hosted PBX line-up. With monthly fees starting at $10 per month, GotVMail is specifically designed for small, entrepreneurial businesses and offers a scaled-down virtual PBX system consisting of the most central features:

  • Call attendant and multiple extensions with unlimited incoming
    calls (i.e., callers never get a busy signal)

  • Information-only extensions
  • Call forwarding and follow-me
  • Music on-hold (including custom music)
  • Voice mail and email notification of voicemail messages
  • Custom greeting
  • Faxes
  • Dial-by-name directory
  • Call screening and call transfer
  • Conference calling
  • Night service
  • Toll-free virtual calling (virtual calling card)

    GotVMail assigns your business a toll-free number. You can also use your local number, but you have to arrange with your phone company to transfer calls on your local number to the toll-free number assigned by GotVMail.

    Of the services we’ve researched, GotVMail has the simplest plans. While other services base plan pricing on both minutes and services, GotVMail breaks up plans based on minute blocks and number of extensions. . . .

  • What has changed is that all their plans ($10 per month, $50 per month, and $200 per month) offer unlimited extensions and all PBX features listed above plus an FAQ extension and “voice studio” which adds voice greetings from professional voice talent, similar to Professional Voice Greetings which we reviewed in May. They’ve also increased the minutes offered in each plan, so the cheapest plan offers 100 minutes per month (previously 50) which, as any businessperson can tell you, can easily be eaten up in a single afternoon. After the allotted minutes are sucked up, each additional minute costs six cents.

    (Of course, with all virtual PBX, VoIP, and virtual fax services, you have to really dig through the fine print to discover exactly what a “minute” is — some services sell “minutes” in six-minute blocks, so a 51 second phone call, which you and any rational person with a third-grade education would define as a “minute” is actually “six minutes” as far as your bill is concerned. Sometimes forwarding a call from one number to the next counts as two calls, so 51 seconds on a forwarded call is actually two minutes. We’re still digging around to figure out all the possible definitions of “minute” that Grasshopper uses when figuring out your bill.)

    Setup is still $25 (with an additional $15 for a true 800 number and an additional $30 for a custom number), but contracts are month-to-month.

    And then, there’s that new name and logo. Certainly “GotVMail” (for “Got Voice Mail,” a riff on the perennial AOL tagline “You Have Mail” and the surprisingly enduring milk industry tagline, “Got Milk?”) tells only a fraction of the story for a service that’s grown into a pretty full PBX storefront.

    But Grasshopper? Like the insect? The frothy, creamy drink? Or Kane, doomed to wander the West chop-socking the dregs of B-TV actors?

    And what’s up with that logo?

    Grasshopper logo

    My first and greatest mentor as a professional designer was the inimitable Rick Memsic who remains one of the best logo and identity designers I’ve met. The lesson I’ll never forget is the simple statement he’d say somewhat distractedly while pointing at some design element or another:

    “I don’t know why you did that.”

    Design, to my mind, is a language that speaks with immediacy, persuasion, and force. It should never be a head-scratcher full of little twists and turns that make you go, “I don’t know why you did that.”

    So, here’s Rick Memsic sitting at the computer screen saying, “I don’t know why the logo is crooked. I have no idea why there’s a bizarre green swoosh through the lettering. Why is the logo knocked out on a black square? None of this stuff actually makes any sense or says anything other than the designer is pulling tricks out of his ass. Is this a puzzle or a logo?”

    And that tagline? Outside of the fact that everyone and their llama uses “get connected” in some way, what in blue blazes comes before that “and”? Are we missing a word? Are we supposed to guess the word? “Wash your socks and get connected”? “Fart and get connected”?

    All that being said, the recent success of Grasshopper proves that both a name and a logo really don’t mean much in the bigger scheme of things, which is something I keep repeating ad nauseum even though I’m a professional designer and branding specialist. In fact, the new name offered the company the chance to do a monumentally successful direct marketing and social media campaign that drove up traffic to the site almost 5,000% back in May. And, if you want to know how branding is really done, check out the video they use to promote the service — there’s nothing about the service, only the aspirations of entrepreneurs, as summed up in the title, “Entrepreneurs Can Change The World”:


    That, my friends, is how it’s done. Nice copy, excellent typography, inspirational. Maybe these guys shoulda done the logo and tagline.

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    3 Responses to “GotVMail is now Grasshopper”

    1. drosebrugh says:

      Thanks for the comprehensive review. Just so you know, Grasshopper bills in six second increments with an eighteen second minimum.

    2. Steve Monas says:

      As I am building up my newest business endevor Pono Taxi ( in Hawaii, I had several issues when it came to getting a phone number. I was looking for a phone number that I could forward to my iPhone. I also needed to have a local number, as it is a sign of a local business, and respect from the community. A toll free number would not work for this scenario.

      First, I had a choice of taking the original phone number from the owner of the taxi business that I had bought it from. Taxi Hanalei. When going to the At&t store, they had told me that even if the original contract expires within a month, I would still need to sign a 1 year contract, even with my own phone, and adding the line to my existing account.

      Second was to look at virtual numbers. I had done a search under phrase “forward phone number”. The sponsored results included Grandcentral (now Google Voice), onebox, eVoice, RingCentral and others like GotVmail (Grasshopper), MagicJack, and Google Voice. None of them offered a Hawaiian 808 number. What some did offer, are phone numbers with limited incoming minutes, and then if you did get over those minutes, it got expensive. I can’t say that if you forward those numbers, they won’t charge you the minutes.

      I already have a MajicJack for number for San Diego, and I can forward it directly from their website. But again, no 808 number. I had contacted them, and they had said that their engineers are working on it. Hawaii doesn’t give out the 808 number, as other states. The entire state, all islands, have the same area code. Unlike other states, that have a different area code for every city or town.

      I found a workaround. I purchased an At&t “Go Phone” from Walmart, and went to the At&t store. At the store, they had added a line to my existing account (my dad is on my account with minutes and I would share them), gave me an 808 number that I choose, activated it, and now I could forward them number on the phone, turn it off, and it won’t use any minutes.

      As co-author of Shoestring Venture, I work on a Shoestring budget….more to come.

    3. Color me impressed!

      In every way, the folks at Grasshopper are a case study in how to do social media, and Getting-Social-Media-Right 101 starts with keeping up on the blogs, tweets, and other parts of the brand conversation. It is relatively easy to automate (Google has some tremendous tools) and the game is to respond immediately. I put up this review on Saturday morning and by Saturday evening, the folks at Grasshopper left a comment clarifying how the billing was done.

      And that, my friends, is how it’s done by those that know what they’re doing!


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