Getting to the top is easy compared with staying there. That's what makes LatiNode's second consecutive number 1 ranking on the Hispanic Business Fastest-Growing 100 directory so surprising. The company's 107,993 percent five-year growth rate landed it atop the directory last year; this year the company reached the top spot with an even more amazing five-year growth rate of 124,782 percent.
Revenues for this wholesale provider of Internet voice communications climbed from $34,115 in 2000 to more than $42.6 million in 2004. The previous year's rankings were based on 1999 revenues of $24,000 and 2003 revenues of $26 million. Between 2003 and 2004, revenues grew a speedy 63.8 percent, and Juan Pablo Vasquez, vice-president of sales for the Miami-based company, says revenues are expected to climb to $70 million in 2005, a 64.3 percent increase.
"We started at zero, and today there is a very high possibility that if you call to Latin America, or from Latin America, to the U.S., you have used the LatiNode Network," says Mr. Vasquez.
LatiNode was founded in 1999 by CEO Jorge Granados and two partners. The company is a wholesale provider of Internet voice-communications service for major providers like AT&T and Bell South. Before starting LatiNode, Mr. Granados, who had spent a quarter century in the telecom industry, was running a firm that sold point-of-sale software to Latin America and handled long-distance customer-service calls.
In an effort to lower his company's phone bills, Mr. Granados began exploring Voice-Over-Internet protocol (VoIP) – the technology that transmits voice and data via the Internet – and the idea for LatiNode was born. The company began with $925,000 from friends and family and a $1 million loan in cash and equipment from Cisco Systems, the Internet giant that funded similar start-ups at the time.
LatiNode has established its own network in Latin America and has created partnerships to deliver VoIP calls worldwide through its wholesale business unit. The company also offers other long-distance telecommunications services for residential and corporate clients through its retail business unit and supplies hardware technology through its infrastructure solutions business unit.
Mr. Vasquez says that last year the company doubled the number of countries it can offer customers and interconnected to larger telecommunications carriers around the world. New markets include Argentina, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Chile, and the Dominican Republic.
The company also entered into a joint venture with the second largest media group in Argentina to commercialize VoIP telephony services. Mr. Vasquez says this new division, referred to as CrossFone, is expected to experience the same explosive growth as his wholesale business.
Strategically, the company is seeking new partners and acquisitions in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Aside from fast growth, Mr. Vasquez predicts: "Next year, we will be the Hispanic company that turned global."
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