When Angel.com founder and CEO Michael Zirngibl, 36, first heard of www.gethuman.com in November 2005, he thought the site--which helps callers bypass automated business phone systems--would be short-lived. Not quite: Its founder, Paul English, soon appeared on the network news with tips for consumers.
The site quickly became a PR liability for the interactive voice response industry, but not for IVR provider Angel.com. Instead, Zirngibl and his team used the backlash to their advantage. Says Zirngibl, "We needed to tell the other side of the story"--that IVR can be an asset to a business. Within days, the McLean, Virginia, business developed a Google advertising program with keywords including "Paul English" and "gethuman.com." After six months, Angel.com's campaign had received more than 10,000 clicks. Says Zirngibl. "Since the story broke, our revenues have increased by 140 percent," to more than $5 million.