Fast-growing Ruby Receptionists is expanding its small business product line to include an online chat function with the acquisition of Kansas City, Mo.-based startup ProfessionalChats.
The deal, Ruby’s first acquisition, brings with it the company’s first office outside the Portland metro.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction will bring an additional 100 employees to Ruby, which will have more than 600 workers across three offices in the Portland region and the new Kansas City location.
Ruby, which is majority owned by the private equity firm Updata Partners, offers virtual reception services for thousands of small businesses nationwide. The 16-year-old company reported $37.6 million in revenue and a two-year growth rate of 77 percent last year.
“For 15 years we have been the voice of small businesses over the telephone,” said CEO Jill Nelson. “We are looking at how consumers are making purchase decisions and they are expecting instant responses and responses in the medium of their choice. We want to help small businesses do that on phone, chat or some other future way.”
ProfessionalChats will allow Ruby to offer live, online chat services for clients’ websites. The fast-growing startup was founded in 2016 by CEO Scott Hanson.
“Formally joining forces with Ruby was a natural next-step for ProfessionalChats,” said Hanson in an email. “Like ProfessionalChats, Ruby is passionate about delivering exceptional ‘WOW’ experiences and passionate about creating real, meaningful human connections in an increasingly impersonal digital world. When we first met the Ruby team, we immediately fell in love with the receptionists, the culture, and the service.”
The ProfessionalChats technology will be wrapped into the Ruby platform. The technology integration falls to Ruby’s Chief Product and Technology Officer Katherine Nester.
Both Nelson and Hanson cited Ruby’s strong employee culture and customer focus as important fits for both companies. Ruby plans to build-out a “Ruby style” office in Kansas City: The company is already hunting for 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of space.
ProfessionalChats built its business on oral health and other health care customers. The company is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Nelson noted that this year will be a big one for Ruby. Not only will it integrate the ProfessionalChats business, it will further build its platform.
“This is just a piece,” said Nelson of the chat functionality within the broader evolution of Ruby. “We plan strategic partnerships with some big firms to bring Ruby to market into small business phone systems or an (online) booking platform.”