Grasshopper is a virtual phone system for entrepreneurs & small businesses.
Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored review. All opinions and thoughts expressed within this review had no bias or outside influence. We may earn a commission on referred sales, but content integrity is our top priority.
Grasshopper set out with a mission to be the best virtual phone system for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Their approach takes the complexity out of a VOIP phone system.
From our experience, the company has achieved this offering competitive features and an easy to use interface without breaking the lower budgets commonly associated with entrepreneurs, startups or small businesses.
If you need a virtual phone system designed more for an enterprise-style business with more than five numbers, more advanced features and have a significantly higher budget to work with then you'll want to look into RingCentral.
A Great Buy
The Ideal Buyer
Entrepreneurs, startups or small business owners who want the savings and convenience benefits of a virtual phone system without the hassle of a complicated setup, expensive billing or lack of supporting devices.
Starting your own company or small business is easier than ever thanks to the power of the Internet. For someone who has never run a company before, it is crucial to create the proper communication resources for your customers to get in touch.
A website is essential for a small business in today's economic market. Yet many consumers still desire the ability to talk over the phone, and that is why a company phone number is still remains a crucial investment.
Some companies may decide to get dedicated cell phones for employees which are convenient yet costly. Others rely on a traditional PBX phone system which can cost thousands of dollars to setup and install even for as few as 5 lines.
Thanks to the Internet, many startups have set out to revolutionize this industry with their own virtual phone systems. Grasshopper is one of the most popular services in this market. The service caters to entrepreneurs and small businesses with affordable pricing and competitive features.
In the following review, we will take an in-depth look at the experience and value provided from Grasshopper's phone service. At the end of the review, we will determine whether it is worth the monthly subscription cost.
Keep in mind, this is NOT a sponsored review, and no bias has played any role in the outcome. All opinions expressed within this review are from our experience using the Grasshopper service ourselves.
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Grasshopper - Company Overview
The company was founded way back in 2003 (fifteen years ago) by two entrepreneurs named Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser who set out with a goal of making it easier for companies to start and grow their small businesses.
While the company was founded on humble beginnings, it wasn't before long that their service caught on with their target demographic and their business was booming. To date, Grasshopper's phone system has served over 300,000 customers with many leaving glowing reviews.
Media mentions for the company have included Inc. 500, CNN, Fox Business, Forbes and a slew of well-known tech-related blogs and websites.
In 2015, Grasshopper brought in over $30M in annual revenue and was then acquired by Citrix (a company known for their business software like GoToMeeting) for $165M in cash and $8.6M in stock.
Why Invest In A Virtual Phone System?
There are MANY reasons why a virtual phone system like Grasshopper makes sense to invest in for entrepreneurs, startups or small businesses.
- Affordable costs – a virtual phone system is cost-effective compared to a traditional PBX or purchasing additional wireless phone plans for employees.
- Advanced features – a virtual phone system allows you to take advantage of advanced features like mobile forwarding, detailed call logs, transcriptions, inbound faxing, dedicated apps (PC, Mac, Android or iOS) and more.
- Ease of use – A traditional PBX system requires professional installation and likely cannot be fixed by yourself if something goes wrong, virtual phone systems offer cloud-based reliability, easy to use interfaces, detailed knowledge-base documentation, and 24/7 support.
- Flexibility & Convenience – a virtual phone system is convenient as it offers you the ability to accept calls to your business from anywhere on virtually any device.
Providing your business with a professional image from a consumer's perspective is an large aspect of branding yourself as a legitimate business. A virtual phone system is one of the most affordable and quickest ways to secure a custom business phone number to help achieve this perception.
Grasshopper vs. Competing Virtual Phone Systems
Pricing: How Much Does Grasshopper Cost?
As expected, pricing is a considerable factor for prospective virtual phone system customers, and Grasshopper's phone plans are some the cheapest available from a reputable company.
Grasshopper charges a single flat rate for their plans per month and each business is expected to sign up for a single plan. This differs from some of their competition like RingCentral which charges on a monthly basis for each individual user thus racking up an expensive bill rather quickly.
At the of this review, the base Grasshopper plan is dubbed ‘Solo and starts at $24 per month that includes a single number with three extensions. Moving up to the ‘Partner' $49/month plan, you'll receive three numbers with six extensions.
Lastly, the top-tier ‘Small Business' plan offers five numbers with unlimited extensions in addition to advanced features like business SMS (texting) and voicemail transcription.
Grasshopper does charge a $25 plan activation fee, but during random times throughout the year, they run a promotion where it will waive the fee for any new customers (this is present while this review was being written).
Additionally, if you happen to be a member of FoundersCard (read our full review), then you'll be able to score $75 in credit (despite being advertised as only $50 in the FoundersCard portal) as well as having the $25 activation fee waived regardless of the timing.
Plans can be changed at any time, and there are no long-term commitments required for signing up with Grasshopper's phone service. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren't satisfied with your service for one reason or another.
Grasshopper Partners - Potential Savings
When we first signed up for Grasshopper, the concept of their partner program wasn't even something that crossed our mind. However, since then we have discovered this little-advertised perk and have been able to save some money or offer extended trials on various business-related products or services.
The partner program will be hit or miss depending on the type of business you are running and the requirements you need regarding the products or services necessary to run your business. Most of the Grasshopper partners are technology-related, but there are some traditional perks mixed in there.
To put it most simply, the concept of Grasshopper partnership program is to work with other brands who also cater to entrepreneurs and small businesses in which these brands offer exclusive discounts or extended free-trials to Grasshopper's large base of customers.
While I'm not going to cover the entire list of perks, here are some that interested us and seemed most valuable to other business owners:
- Fedex – save up to 26% on select FedEx and FedEx Office services
- LiveChat – get 50% off your first payment on any plan
- Moz – get a free 60 day trial of MozPro (normally 30 days)
- ContractMint – 20% discount on attorney drafted contract templates
- Zipcar – free business account and various savings on short-term rentals
- SEO Powersuite – free trial of SEO Powersuite Enterprise and 33% off full-time licenses
- PrintingForLess – $100 in credit for printing services
- CrazyEgg – 90-day free trial of the popular heatmaps and user-tracking tool (normally just 30 days)
Notable Features Of Grasshopper
From a features standpoint, Grasshopper covers much of their competition's offerings without going too in-depth to the bells and whistles of their more premium rivals.
Dedicated Business Line(s)
As expected, you'll receive a dedicated line for business with the basic ‘solo' plan and 3 or 5 numbers if you choose one of the upgraded plans. If you want to add additional numbers, you can do so for an extra $5/mo per number.
Depending on your business needs, you can choose a standard number with your local area code, a 1-800 number of your choosing (if available), an 844 number (a common prefix that could soon replace 800 numbers) and toll-free numbers which can just make your business appear more professional.
Should you already have an existing phone number for business, you can port the number over to Grasshopper, but the process is a bit more complicated than just registering a new business line so I'd ask support to walk you through it (in our case, we started with a new line for this review).
Depending on the plan you sign up for, you'll get a minimum of three extensions all the way up to an unlimited amount. This is useful if you want to have a single line for multiple people in your business.
This eases confusion for your customers as they can dial a single number and enter in an extension to become easily routed directly to the person or department they seek.
Unlike some of the competition, all Grasshopper plans offer unlimited toll-free minutes so you'll never hit a quota or be stuck having to pay for additional minutes before the month is over. This is not only convenient but can save you a lot of money in monthly overage fees.
Just like the voice mailbox found on your smartphone, this is a simple feature that allows you to have your clients leave a recorded voice message that will automatically be stored in the Grasshopper's cloud servers.
You can record your own custom greeting or also have the option to have a professional voice recording done for you by their voiceover actors as a greeting for a flat fee of $75.
Desktop & Mobile App Support
No matter what modern device you own, Grasshopper likely has a way of natively being used on it with dedicated apps for Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android.
Since it a cloud-based system and can run on some compatible virtual platforms, you can utilize wifi to make and receive calls. This is possible on both desktop and mobile as long as you have a reliable internet connection.
This perk is limited compared to competitors, but you can receive faxes via Grasshopper phone account, but you are unable to send them to another person.
Texting and Voicemail Transcription
Included for free with the top-tier ‘Small Business' plan, the texting feature allows you to send SMS messages through your Grasshopper business number for $10 per month per number.
The voicemail transcription feature also known as “Read Your Voicemail” allows you the ability to automatically have your business voicemails transcribed by the Grasshopper phone service and save your time by reading the message in a text format.
User Interface & Ease Of Use
If your business isn't focused on the online niche, then chances are you aren't all that tech savvy. If this is the case, don't panic as Grasshopper was designed for users of all types of backgrounds and is simple enough to manage without knowing a thing about virtual phone systems.
Most of the features and settings are self-explanatory. However, if you find yourself stuck you can always contact their support (available 24/7 via phone or email). They also have an extensive user knowledge-base on their website which will run you through all the basics including a ‘Get Started' section.
You've got three primary Grasshopper phone interfaces you'll deal when you sign up for the service:
- Web browser interface
- Desktop interface
- Mobile interface
Grasshopper Web Application Interface
Accessible from any modern web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.), this is the primary interface for your account.
This is the location where you'll make changes to your Grasshopper account such as create/remove/edit phone numbers or extensions, switch plans, customize greetings, configure user roles and view/pay invoices.
Within this web interface, you can see a full list of all the messages and calls made through your Grasshopper account or pull up a customized report based on usage, detail or activity.
You will not be able to make calls from the web browser interface, so you'll need to do that via the desktop or mobile apps (shown below).
Grasshopper Desktop App Interface
Throughout our review period, we used the desktop app designed for MacOS (we ran it on MacOS High Sierra 10.31.1). Unlike the web interface, the desktop interface can place and answer phone calls as well as send/receive texts (if applicable).
The interface is clean with only a few panels to choose from. Within these sections, you've got the ‘dialer' for making outbound calls and the ‘messages' tab for sending or receiving SMS messages (if you have the top-tier account or pay the extra $10/month).
While it is pretty self-explanatory ‘recent' tab shows all your recent activity and the ‘inbox' section shows all your stored voicemails which can be played from the cloud or downloaded right to your machine.
You don't have the same amount of account settings from the Grasshopper desktop app (the settings button brings up the web browser version), but you do have the ability to turn on “do not disturb” mode to temporary hinder new calls or message notifications.
Grasshopper Mobile App Interface
While the mobile app is available both for Android and iOS, we conducted our testing on an iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone X (running iOS 11).
Similar to the desktop app, the Grasshopper mobile app is simplistic and closely resembles the stock iOS ‘Phone' app's design. You've got dedicated tabs for your inbox, recent, a dialer, text messaging and settings tab.
On the mobile app, you get more access to settings to tinker with although it is still limited compared to the web browser interface. The main options that can be configured through the mobile app are whether you want to enable ‘wifi calling' (which we recommend if you don't have stellar service in your office or frequent workplace).
Additionally, you can set up call forwarding to any numbers of your choice. By setting up call forwarding, you can receive an incoming call on your business line straight to your mobile phone without having to deal with the Grasshopper app.
Call Quality & Performance
In our type of work, most of the use for our business line comes from inbound calls. A lot of the time it is public relations companies who are looking to pitch a problem or an advertiser that is looking to work together.
Due to this, it is uncommon for us to answer calls unless we recognize the number. However, the Grasshopper's cloud voicemail system is our best friend as is the ability to make business calls from our computer which is more convenient than I originally anticipated.
Regarding call quality, it will depend on your wifi or service strength although in ideal conditions it is excellent. We've yet to have a call dropped during our review period (we have been using mainly at the office with wifi calling enabled) and the clarity of the call recipient as been clear and easy to understand.
Getting Unlucky With Our Chosen Number
There has only been one complaint when it comes to the actual use of the service throughout this review. Frankly, it isn't Grasshopper's fault, just a case of bad luck.
When we relocated the business this past May from Massachusetts to Florida, we decided to get a brand our business phone number from the (413) area code to the new (727) version.
During the initial on-boarding and signup for Grasshopper, we chose a number that seemed like it would be ideal for business and easy to remember starting with (727) 800-****.
Everything went great with the setup until later that day when our phone started ringing even before we publicly shared the new number with anyone else. This was not something we expected and for the point of the review, we don't think it will be a common occurrence that happens with others.
We've gotten many calls and handful voicemails so far that seem to be directed to the previous owner of this phone number (everyone seems to be referencing someone named Amber). From what we can decipher, it seems they are related to overdue bills and even had a bail bondsman call relating to her outstanding bond.
Again, this could have happened with any other service including a wireless cell phone provider so I am not putting any of the blame on Grasshopper and it is just unfortunate luck.
We haven't seen anyone else mention this situation in their Grasshopper reviews so it is unlikely that you'd deal with the same scenario.
We did reach out to support who assured us they could easily swap out my number for another without issue although we have been handing out this new number for the past few months (including to PR and vendors during CES) and are sort of attached to how easy it is to remember.
For now, we will just be blocking any old numbers from reaching us via the Grasshopper mobile app and hoping to continue with a clean slate. Should it get too overburdening in the future, we'll reach out to Grasshopper support for help changing our number.
Grasshopper Review - Final Verdict
The team over at Grasshopper set out with a mission to make an affordable and easy to use virtual phone system for entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses. From our hands-on experience mentioned in this review, Grasshopper executed well on their purpose offering all the features you'd need in this type of setting without killing your wallet from expensive monthly fees.
However, if you are looking at Grasshopper from an enterprise standpoint or you have an appropriate budget to support higher-end features like video chatting or integrations with existing services like Amazon Alexa, Salesforce or Dropbox then we recommend taking a look at RingCentral.