Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Clear Signal

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Puget Sound Business Journal


By Clay Holtzman, Staff Writer


“Tony Cheng started his company in 1999 after watching his telecommunications clients suffer through seven years of corporate mergers and acquisitions, resulting in neglect of quality customer service.


Cheng, himself a survivor of telecom industry consolidation with seven different business cards to prove it, founded Bellevue’s Netstar Inc. in 1999 to broker the kind of telecommunications service that he believed would keep customers loyal.


BUILDING IT: A survivor of telecom industry consolidation, Tony Cheng has built his 10-year-old company Netstar on meeting customers' needs and helping them trim costs for their telecommunications needs.

BUILDING IT: A survivor of telecom industry consolidation, Tony Cheng has built his 10-year-old company Netstar on meeting customers' needs and helping them trim costs for their telecommunications needs.


“I have always known that if you build the support they will come.  There is a lot of technology, but in the end people do business with people,” said Cheng, who is Netstar’s chief executive officer and lone salesman.


The shifting world of telecommunications has helped feed Netstar’s business model.  Years ago companies wanted to save money on their long-distance phone bills, while nowadays options are much more complex.  Companies now are trying to get the most minutes out of their plans or maximize their bandwidth capacity, according to Cheng.


Today, Netstar focuses on helping customers buy and manage their cellular and telecommunications services, and look for ways to reduce costs on those services.  The company is profitable, growing and even hiring some staff.


Netstar has 12 full-time employees and typically has another 10 to 15 contract staff.  In 2008, total revenue topped $1.65 million, up about 30 percent from the previous year, according to Netstar.   “Last year was a fantastic year,” Cheng said.  This year the company is on pace for similar growth, he said.


Driving recent growth has been Netstar’s primary service of helping clients reduce telecommunications costs by ensuring billing accuracy, maximizing existing services or getting better rates through Netstar’s strategic partners.  Cheng began offering cost-reduction services around 2001 as company spending on telecommunications services began growing dramatically.  However, the service has boomed during the recession as companies have slashed costs.


“We are not geniuses that know every chess move,” Cheng said.  “We built this business on meeting the customer need and this recession played into our hands.” Netstar says its fee for cost-reduction services is based on savings obtained by clients.


According to Gartner Inc., and information and technology research firm, up to 20 percent of business telecom charges are incorrect, and the overwhelming majority of those errors favor the provider.  In 2006, a Gartner vice president of research projected that the market for technology expense management would reach $1.5 billion by 2010.


Cheng says the trend of companies using experts to trim their telecommunications costs should feed Netstar’s growth for years to come.


Netstar primarily serves mid-sized companies that have multiple locations and spend significant amounts on telecommunications.  Clients include Phil Smart Mercedes-Benz, John L. Scott Real Estate and Oak Harbor Freight Lines.  The company has more than 500 clients, most in Washington state.


In addition to new customers eager to reduce costs, the recession has also given Netstar an opportunity to choose the best employees available. “The economy presented a lot of talented people that are available for us to hire. The challenge in that is finding the right people with the right customer service attitude that want to grow with us,” Cheng said.


Netstar says it has no plans to take on private investors; the company is debt free and operates on its own revenue, according to Cheng.  But the company does plan to pursue additional strategic partnerships with carriers and technology providers to improve and broaden its services.”



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2009 Eastside Business Awards Finalist

Monday, June 8th, 2009

The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce


“Outstanding businesses on the Eastside that uphold a strong commitment to quality, community and innovation were recognized at the 20th Annual Bellevue Chamber of Commerce Eastside Business Awards luncheon on April 29.


“From Kirkland to Bothell, Redmond to Bellevue, this year’s winners and finalists are making an impact on their communities and their competition. They demonstrate a strong entrepreneurial spirit in response to a challenging economy,” said Betty Nokes, President and CEO, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.



Eastside Business of the Year
• Esterline Corporation
Expedia, Inc. – WINNER
• SonoSite, Inc.


Eastside Small Business of the Year
• Netstar Communications, Inc.
• PCSI Design
Talyst – WINNER


Eastside Emerging Business
• Intelius, Inc.
Magellan Architects – WINNER
• Pathway Medical Technologies, Inc.


Eastside Outstanding Community Citizen
BarclayDean – WINNER
• Intelius, Inc.
• Tutoring Club


Eastside Non-Profit/Community Impact
• AtWork!
Eastside Baby Corner – WINNER
• Friends of Youth


A word from our Presenting Sponsor…


When the economy gets tough, it’s vitally important to recognize those businesses among us who have what it takes to not just survive, but to thrive.  That’s why First Mutual Bank, a division of Washington Federal Savings, is proud to partner with the Bellevue Chamber for the fifth consecutive year to sponsor the 2009 Eastside Business Awards.


As a local bank serving the Eastside for more than 50 years, First Mutual understands the value of partnerships.  That’s why we’re pleased to have joined Washington Federal, where we benefit from our combination of expertise and financial strength. And just like many of you, we strive to build long-term relationships with our clients by offering them local decision making, innovative solutions and an exceptional customer experience.


Through awards programs like this, we have an opportunity to learn from others’ examples. So please take a moment to consider who amongst us deserves special recognition. The Eastside Business Awards program has honored more than 100 outstanding Eastside businesses for their contributions to our economy and community over the past 20 years.  Help us make this year’s awards a resounding success.


Regards,


Rick Collette
EVP, Business Banking
First Mutual Bank,a Division of Washington Federal
Presenting Sponsor, Eastside Business Awards


THE EBA MISSION
The Eastside Business Awards (EBA) is a program of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, developed to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and business successes of the Eastside. The Eastside Business Awards honor the outstanding businesses of our region that uphold a strong commitment to quality, community and innovation”


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Eastside Business Awards to Celebrate Entrepreneurial Spirit

Monday, April 13th, 2009

The Bellevue Reporter


“Entrepreneur T.A. McCann founder and CEO of Gist, will keynote the Bellevue Chamber Eastside Business Awards luncheon on April 29 at Meydenbauer Center.


Finalists and winners in five award categories will be recognized during the 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. event.


2009 Finalists:


Eastside Business of the Year: Esterline Corporation, Expedia Inc., and SonoSite Inc.


Eastside Smal Business of the Year: Netstar, Inc., PCSI Design, and Talyst


Eastside Emerging Business: Intelius Inc., Magellan Architects, and Pathway Medical Technologies Inc.


Eastside Non-Profit/Community Impact: AtWork!, Eastside Baby Corner, and Friends of Youth


Eastside Outstanding Community Citizen: BarclayDean, Intelius Inc., and Tutoring Club


Any business located on the Eastside was eligible to compete for an award.  Companies submitted applications based on category guidelines that were judged by an independent panel of regional business leaders.


Tickets are $60 for members, $85 for non-members; corporate tables available.  To register, call to 425.213.1205 or visit www.bellevuechamber.org.


Meydenbauer Center, located at 11100 NE 6th Street in Bellevue.”


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Phone Bill Help

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Puget Sound Business Journal


“The business of helping other companies save on their telephone and internet costs is paying off for one small Bellevue company.


Netstar Communications Inc. has ramped up quickly. The company has 11 employees, having added eight in 2008 and 2009. The company has openings in three positions: auditor, account manager and support person for accounts.


Netstar anticipates hiring even more people this year, as companies look to save money during the recession. Netstar clients include Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Co. and H.D. Fowler Co., a Bellevue-based distributor of pumps and wastewater equipment.


The business of helping other companies save on their telephone and internet costs is paying off for one small Bellevue company. Netstar Communications Inc. has ramped up quickly.”


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Netstar Grows by Helping Businesses Cut Phone Costs

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

The Bellevue Reporter


“At a time when most companies are trimming costs, one local business knows how find savings from a complex and often misunderstood line item.Stacks of bills


Bellevue-based Netstar offers telecommunications consulting and bill auditing, with services that come free of charge until its clients see a cost reduction.


Founder Tony Cheng says the average savings adds up to around 25 percent, which can mean the difference between layoffs and hallelujahs for some businesses.


Netstar’s services are catching on. The company is already ahead 20 percent for the first quarter of 2009 after watching its revenues grow by 47 percent last year.


“It’s really a fun business because you’re helping companies profit,” Tony said. “They don’t have to spend money or carve out of their budget.”


Waste Management saved $1.1 million by applying Netstar’s services at just 40 percent of its locations.


Rainier Title, a smaller company, has trimmed $35,000 off its bottom line since 2007 by outsourcing its telecommunications services to Netstar.


“We definitely saw a nice savings,” said Rainier Title General Manager Chuck Trafton. “Being able to outsource is a big deal because we don’t need to have someone on staff who’s an expert.”


Tony fancies Netstar as a sort of telecommunications concierge. The company identifies unnecessary charges while optimizing the plans and products that its clients use.


That often means doing something most carriers aren’t motivated to do, which is tell their customers about a better deal.


“A lot of companies don’t have the right services to meet their business needs,” said Netstar marketing specialist Annie Cheng, who is Tony’s niece.


Netstar helps implement the changes it recommends and then provides a comparison of the costs before and after audits to prove there’s been a reduction, generally asking for half of the savings in return.


It’s a win-win situation – for everyone except the telecommunications companies, who sometimes lose clients.


“The carriers love us and they hate us,” Cheng said. “They love us when we bring new business, and they hate us when we take it away.”


Netstar was founded in 1999, and now serves over 500 clients. Most of the new customers come around by word of mouth.


“Saving money is a wonderful conversation at parties,” Cheng said. “Business people talk to each other, and we get a lot of referrals.”

Business success equals jobs


Netstar has 12 employees, and is looking to add another three positions immediately. For information, visit www.netstarinc.com


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Cutting Down Your Phone Bill

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Q13 Fox


“A tight economy has turned into a huge boost for one local company, which has taken on the job of saving you money.  The way it works may surprise you and the amount you could save might come as a shock.”



Getting Through It: Netstar Polices Cell Phone Bills

Monday, January 26th, 2009

KIRO Radio


Listen to the report.


“The name of the game in corporate board rooms these days is cutting costs.


Tony Cheng compares Netstar Communications, a Bellevue company, with a traffic cop. “Basically we work with large and small companies slashing telecom and cellular expenses.”


Cheng founded Netstar a decade ago in his garage and now the small company is up to eleven employees after doubling its staff in 2008. “In this economy we feel really blessed that we are able to grow, to hire, and hopefully to take on some of the unemployed people.” Netstar is looking to fill another six to eight positions.


Business is booming thanks to companies trying to cut costs. “We look for sales tax that have been mis-billed by the carrier. We look for a lot of redundant fees that they’re being charged.”


And Netstar’s business model is appealing. It doesn’t charge any up front fees, only if it can save a company money. “I would say that if you take a hundred customers that allow us to look through their bills that contracted our service, we’ll probably engage 98 of them,” said Cheng.


He says they’re hearing from more Fortune 500 companies, but also small businesses where $100 a month can make a big difference. “I would say the average cost savings is probably anywhere from about 20 to 35 percent.”


One thing about running a successful small business: not much free time. “My mom, who is 85 years old, constantly bugs me and says, ‘Tony, you have to go and exercise.””


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