Last week we came across a rather novel new network called OVIVO. Just like Samba Mobile (who we recently interviewed), they claim to offer completely free mobile internet. However, they also go one step further by offering completely free calls and texts too.
How do they manage this you ask? Well, they are an advert-supported network. So, basically, they get paid to show you targeted ads and use this money to pay off your phone bill for you. Does it work? Well, that remains to be seen but they claim to offer you 200 minutes, 200 texts and 500 MB of data every month without you having to pay a penny. If you’re interested and want to know a little bit more, read on as we ask some questions to Dariush Zand, CEO and Founder of OVIVO Mobile.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, first of all can you explain a little more about the genesis of the company and the ideas behind it?
We started Ovivo in September 2011, although I personally have been in the Telecommunications business since 1995 in broad range of roles and companies (sales, Marketing, Technology, Operators, Equipment Manufacturers, etc.). The key driver behind the business was to Innovate and drive change…a move away from the existing billing paradigm of carriers worldwide. We learned from studies such as this that a substantial amount of customers’ bundles are unused and with contract durations of over 18 months, the model does not favour the consumer. However changing this model and moving to a more Internet orientated model of providing service requires a careful, yet exciting approach. Hence Ovivo was born, to drive this change and achieve what to date the industry has viewed as not being possible. Our company identity and logo reflects this – an Ibis, carrying a Rhino on its head is achieving what most thought to believe as impossible! Not any more.
What can users expect from the adverts they have to view and how are you choosing advertisers?
Initially we are working with key Advertising Network Partners (Google, Bliss Media, Inmobi, Adfonic and Linking Mobile) to place relevant advertising for our target segments. As we grow, we will augment this with dedicated advertising campaigns and seek to deliver true added value to a highly consumable, yet cost conscious segment, the student market. Where we go from there, will include much more targeted profiling (Hyper local in some cases) and relevant to add value to customers and entice click through and conversions.
The MVNO market is incredibly competitive and saturated – apart from your pricing plan, how else are you going to distinguish yourselves and get the word out?
You’re quite right, it is a very saturated market with (at last count) 60+ MVNOs in the UK alone! Price is always a key differentiator, but we hope to attract our initial customers through the innovative nature of our brand, service and promise. With over 2.5m students in the UK, we have a substantial market opportunity to prove our model, drive further innovation and roll it out to the broader market.
This revenue model has been attempted many times before in other markets – why do you think it will work better now and in this particular niche?
We’ve been referred to as “The Ghost of Blyk” and “Blyk 2.0” on a number of occasions! I personally welcome the reference as Blyk were pioneers trying to do something in an industry where the market simply wasn’t ready, the value chain did not exist and the technology wasn’t available. Thanks to the Smartphone revolution, the Advertising Ecosystem and extensibility created by pioneers such as Google and Bliss, the Technology advancements of our Partners such as Moben International and the fact that we are now seeing the take-off or Mobile Advertising, the time is right for the Ad-funded MVNO. Why in this particular student Niche segment? Very simply, because we need to prove our model with the Consumers of tomorrow, where even though they may have cash constraints, they are perceived as extremely lucrative by brands looking to win their custom and raise awareness of their brand at an early point of their consumer lives.
What is your target market? How has adoption been so far and do you have growth forecasts?
Students today, extending through to general Smartphone users (those who want and buy the latest gadgets) and Visitors to the UK. Initial take-up and interest has been very promising, however, I can’t disclose actual figures or our growth forecasts at this stage as it is commercially confidential.
Hope that answered some of your questions. Check back in a few days the second part of the interview with Dariush. In the meantime, please subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter so you’ll know when to check back.