Gigs raises $20M to help any company become an MVNO • TechCrunch

A new startup wants to make it easier for any company to sell phone and data plans as part of their own brand of mobile network subscriptions — and it’s got the backing of notable investors, including Google’s early stage venture capital arm Gradient, to help. Ventures and CEO of Uber.

In the year Formed in 2020 from Germany and self-described as a “phone plans strip”, Giggs has been flying under the radar until now. But the Berlin-based startup graduated from Y Combinator’s accelerator program last year and received about $4 million in funding (via a revolving loan) ahead of the $20 million Series A round it’s announcing today.

In short, Gigs allows any company – a bank, a ride-hailing company or a video streaming service – to sell their mobile phone subscription plans (including data, SMS and voice) to their customers. These plans are fully customizable for a specific use case, for example a retail chain may want to launch a fully featured mobile network under their own brand, or a manufacturer of 4G-enabled wearables may want to monetize data subscriptions on each. They sell the physical part. Or, perhaps, the company’s human resources department has decided that it wants to send its own phone plans with the devices of its employees.

We are talking, of course, of mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), of which there are many around the world.

For example, in the US there is Google Fi built on top of T-Mobile and US Cellular, and Ryan Reynolds-backed Mint Mobile PG from T-Mobile infrastructure. Elsewhere in the world, Aldi Talk – an MVNO powered by German supermarket Aldi – has grown on Telefonica’s network in a handful of markets, while the UK counts dozens of MVNOs from the country’s four main carriers.

MVNO in a box

But while it’s already possible for any company to become an MVNO, it’s typically a tedious and time-consuming process — one that ultimately offers little flexibility. And this is where Giggs enters the fray.

Today, any entity must negotiate phone plans (ie becoming an MVNO) with major telecom providers – in the US these include AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon – which is not only an expensive process to endure. But it requires significant technical work, including building software to manage network integrations and user subscriptions.

Jiggs, on the other hand, aggregates all telecom operators’ APIs (application programming interfaces) into one easily accessible layer, lowering the barrier to entry.

Giggs CEO Herman Frank told TechCrunch, “With Giggs, companies can offer phone plans in any market they operate at a significantly lower cost, with the same integration time of two to 14 days.” Ultimately, businesses build Giggs’ infrastructure to be at least 20 times more powerful than their brand identity. They can create their own mobile services that are fast, easy and cheap.”

Giggs was founded by Dennis J. Bauer and Herman Frank. Image credits: Gigs

Giggs can provide this by purchasing large amounts of data, voice and SMS capacity and distributing this capacity in markets where its customers need it. their own needs.

“Then we can set up our own plans at our own prices and create packages according to the needs of our customers,” said Frank. “We also have market-rate plans that you won’t find on other carriers, which can easily be resold by our customers at impressive margins.”

Sim city

While gigs offered traditional “physical” SIM cards as a white-label product, the emergence of the modern embedded SIM (eSIM) card is simplifying things by allowing companies to offer virtual SIM cards on virtually any device. The latest iPhones in the US market don’t even have a physical SIM card slot, which is why Gigs has at least one eye on the future of running digital MVNOs with no physical footprint.

In fact, the company now enables eSIM activation by simply scanning a QR code for the end user. And by supporting both SIM and eSIM, Gigs can handle 100% of its income efficiently.

“The process and hurdles of integrating with a carrier and selling phone plans, as well as how we offer phone plans, are the same for both physical SIM and eSIM,” Frank explained. “[But] Esim now makes the last step of inserting a physical card into a device obsolete and therefore streamlines the activation process.

Gigs SIM and SIM

On top of the main API, the company offers a suite of software called Gigs Connect, which is essentially a hosted checkout “optimized for high user conversion,” according to Frank. This check can be included using a simple link posted to the customer’s product (eg an online store that sells smartwatches).

This is clearly in everyone’s interest – the easier it is for its own customers to sell plans for smartphones, wearables or IoT devices, the more revenue both Gigs and its customers can earn.

Gigs: Plan defined on phone and smartwatch. Image credits: Gigs

Separately, Gigs offers SMBs a phone plan and device subscription management platform called Gigs Teams, and a dashboard that gives customers a complete view of all subscriptions, payments and analytics in one interface.

Gigs Dashboard Image credits: Gigs

The ethos behind all this is similar to how fintech giant Stripe helps merchants sell online by serving up its payment infrastructure through a simple set of APIs, or how Amazon Web Services (AWS) is now the default cloud computing infrastructure for millions.

It’s all about doing the heavy lifting—allowing companies to add value to their core product or service without losing focus on their core competencies. For Giggs, that means eliminating all the complexities often involved in being a global network operator and powering pluggable phone and data plans, reducing it to just five API calls, says Frank.

“Gigs is creating the telecom-as-a-service category,” he said. “We were the first to do what Sripe did for payments or what AWS did for hosting.”

Market opportunity

The MVNO market was pegged as a $62 billion industry last year, a figure predicted to reach over $91 billion in five years. But that doesn’t include the new breed of MVNO that can set up shop overnight, so it’s hard to assess how big the reachable market is. Really it is.

“Many companies from different industries that we’ve talked to have thought about starting their own MVNO or acquiring an MVNO, usually after trying to set themselves up with carriers for over a year,” Frank said. “In theory, you could easily open up new revenue streams with an MVNO, but the barriers to entry – long negotiations with carriers, very high setup costs and commitment – proved insurmountable for most businesses.”

This is even more complicated when a company wants to launch an MVNO globally in multiple markets.

“You have to overcome the same barriers to entry in every market, which will be a long and costly process,” Frank continued. “With Gigs, you can manage all your communication needs across all markets with one integration and start your own MVNO in days.”

It’s hard to ignore Giggs’ star investors. In addition to lead backer Gradient Ventures, YC has reinvested through the YC Continuity Fund, where Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has thrown some money into the envelope, along with DoorDash CEO Tony Shu, Instacart CEO Fiji Simo and a slew of angel investors. On the technology side.

This will help highlight Giggs’ main target market, which will overwhelmingly be the US, although he is open to business elsewhere. The company’s core API exits beta today, so far limited to “select partners,” 70% of which are in the US, 20% in Europe and 10% in Asia.

Also like every startup these days, Gigs is a remote-first company, hitting countries around the world including 30% of its headcount in Germany, 30% in the US, 20% in the UK and 20% in Italy, Georgia, Greece, Switzerland and South Africa.

“Most of our team is American – based in the US or Americans in Europe,” Frank explained. “The US continues to be the single most important market for most tech businesses and the vast majority of the tech scene, and that’s no different for Giggs.”

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