Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The 22nd participant is Me2mobile

Me2mobile is a new entrant in the area of enabling Mobile Interactivity. It is a self-service portal that allows ordinary users to produce interactive mobile applications that were once provided by the traditional mobile media companies such as mobile operators and mobile marketing companies.

Let us explore bit further how Me2mobile is progressing:

• Who are the founders behind this and how it started?
The founders have extensive experience in the mobile industry and have been involved in the mobile content area for the last 8 years. The founders are moonlighting entrepreneurs at present but will be announcing who they are once initial seed funding is secured and the business is launched.

• How long it took before it was up and running?
The concept was conceived around 18 months ago when the founders realised that a lot of smaller businesses and entrepreneurial individuals faced massive barriers to setting up interactive mobile services. We saw an opportunity to delivery a self-service portal that took all the pain away from setting up mobile services and allowed businesses to start dipping their toe in mobile interactive services.

The self-service portal was developed over a 12 months period and at the same time connectivity to the mobile networks was established.

• What stage of your start-up is, stealth mode, beta mode or fully functional?
Me2mobile is in beta launch mode. We launched in early February and we are getting huge interest in what we are doing. We are delighted with the initially feedback and have already taking on board some new ideas. Beta mode will continue for 3 months.

• What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
Me2Mobile is a business that helps it customers to build successful mobile services by providing mobile messaging and payment services that are accessible and affordable. In return, Me2Mobile will share in the success of making mobile services development more ubiquitous.

Currently, the market is experiencing a rapid movement towards “off-deck” mobile content which means that a growing number of mobile users are starting to look beyond their mobile operator's portal and explore mobile sites and services that are provided outside the operator's domain. At the same time there has been a massive growth in interactive services across multiple channels such as Web, TV, Mobile, etc. These 2 factors place the mobile as a key delivery channel for enterprises and advertisers.

Me2mobile wants to be the premium self-service destination for enterprises, advertisers and content providers who want a low-cost entry into this space.

• What services it provides it for consumer or customers?
Me2mobile provides an interactive self-service portal for creating mobile services and generating revenues. Essentially, Me2Mobile is an on-line self-service portal that allows content providers, marketing agencies and mobile application developers to easily create mobile services that encompass mobile payment and messaging services and as a result instantly profit from revenue generating mobile applications.

Me2Mobile allows small enterprises and ordinary users to provide user/community based messaging services such as SMS promotions, SMS voting, competitions, polls, etc.

For the more complex mobile applications, me2mobile provides a web services API for sending and receiving bulk and premium SMS and this allows webmasters and developers to integrate mobile interactivity into their applications.

Me2Mobile provides these services through a community environment that allows the sharing of knowledge and advancing of mobile development. Me2Mobile will encourage community building through the sharing of information and the rewarding of community participation.

• What is unique about your venture?
Me2mobile is the only self-service portal for creating interactive mobile services in Australia. Me2Mobile pricing will be based on low entry level pricing so that small business owners/developers can get into experimenting and using SMS services. It will also uniquely offer revenue share on premium sms services.

• What market segment verticals you are targeting for?
Me2Mobile is targeted at the small enterprise market and in particular content providers, digital creative/advertising agencies and the application/web development community. Me2Mobile provides messaging and payment services that allow ordinary users, developers and entrepreneurs to profit from revenue generating mobile applications. Me2Mobile will target the advertising, marketing and development companies that provide a channel to the small/medium business and content/media/broadcast segment. The SME segment is largely untapped in its use and applicability of SMS and mobile payment services.

• What type of customers you are targeting?
  • Marketing & Ad agencies: have a Need for SMS campaigns, promotional websites, mobile coupons, mobile marketing operations
  • Content publishers: have a need for creating revenue generating mobile offerings, distributing their mobile content, driving web audience to mobile sites
  • System Integrators/Web Developers: have a need for APIs for integrating mobile interactivity into their systems and want ease of use and instant set up
  • Club/Societies: have a need for interacting with their members using SMS, News/Information Alerts, Competitions, Promotion of events
  • Small And Medium Businesses: have a need for using SMS for informational purposes, Managing client relationships, workflow/Order management, Mobile channel for their business.
• What age group of people will be benefited most?
All age groups but is particularly useful to anyone that has an audience or has great content to distribute.

• How many users are using your services?
Since launching only 4 weeks ago, we already have almost 300 registered users. Usage is growing very fast and we are starting to see some interesting use-cases that we didn’t expect. For example, one guy from a performance car club on the Central Coast set up a service that enables the group to instantly notify each other by SMS when there are speed checks on the F3 (sorry NSW police!!)

• What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
At the moment we are mainly relying on internet marketing and by providing useful and comprehensive information on building mobile services.

When we have finalised our Beta program we will be launching some big promotion and industry marketing campaigns.

• How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are their any special mechanisms/tools are in place to monitor the progress?
The success of our venture is based on 2 critical factors.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Demonstrable payback for customers in using mobile services to grow their business. The ability to demonstrate to our clients that cost benefits of using me2mobile and clearly show how the costs can be outweighed by the revenue generated by using me2mobile.
  • Comprehensive offering with Ease of use:A comprehensive service offering that is a “one stop shop” for all businesses needs in the mobile services area. And this comprehensive offering is provided by a Simple interface where services instantly available. And it is totally self service and takes away the complexity and hides it behind the scenes
We believe if we get these 2 factors right that the venture will be very successfully. Me2mobile is a user community so we will look to measure our performance against these critical factors by constant feedback from our users.

What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is their any new model, which is being tried?
The revenue model is very simple. When people use mobile services hosted on me2mobile the operator charges the users on their mobile phone bill. The operator then shares this revenue with us and then we share this with the person who created the mobile service on me2mobile. (see graphic attached). In cases where revenue generation is not the critical factor for our customers (e.g. ad agencies running mobile marketing or information campaigns), we charge monthly fees to host interactive mobile services on the me2mobile platform and also charge a per-message cost for broadcast SMS.

• Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
When you consider the broader SMS gateway space there are competitors such as Clickatell, Essendex, Mobile Messenger, etc. But we believe we have a unique self-service offering which isn’t offered by anyone else in Australia.

• What are the main technologies used behind this start-up.
Me2mobile is a web platform that is based on standard web technologies such as mysql, php, python and java. And of course, webservices.

• What has been the most easy to use, out of box and helpful technology?
Web services. Me2mobile relies heavily on webservices from enabling its operator connectivity and also for connecting with external application providers.

• Are you using lot of open source tool sets for this?
Yes, as part of our development environment we re-use some useful open-source libraries.

• What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using?
As mentioned, Me2mobile is a web platform that is based on standard web technologies such as mysql, php, python and java. And of course webservices.

• How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up. Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
Very often, we are regular attendees of industry networking events and also attend some very useful developer "get-togethers" such the barcamps, STIRR, etc.

• How much money is needed upfront to start a venture?
Ours is a Web2.0 type business and the start-up costs are inline with this type of business. Additional set up costs are need to cover the operator connectivity.

But in order for me2mobile to be truly successful, the biggest cost will be marketing and promotion. We need to change people’s behaviors and this takes effort/cost to get the message out.

• What are the main barriers in general for people start their venture in Australia?
The biggest barrier for starting this type of venture is the complexity and effort of dealing with operators.

Even though SMS is a relatively mature market the operators still place lots of restrictions on what you can and can’t do and the timeframes and costs for getting setup is a major barrier.

Another barrier is that in order to go global with the premium SMS business you need local connections in the countries that you launch in. This requires cost/effort in dealing with multiple regions.

Fortunately, me2mobile has sourced a global messaging providers that has local connectivity for premium SMS in 28 countries and delivery bulk SMS to 350 countries.

But it’s precisely these barriers that are opportunities for me2mobile. Cause it’s these barriers that are keeping small to medium business out of playing and discovering mobile interactivity. Me2mobile takes all the barriers away for our customers.

• What are your thoughts on the future trends of your service and market segment you are in?
In the medium term we see that the mobile content space will mature and further enablers in addition to SMS and payment will be offered by the mobile operators. We predict that in the next 6 to 12 months, operators will start to offer ways to allow “off-net” video streaming and video telephony based content services.

Furthermore, we predict that we will start to see flexible data carriage models which will remove any price barriers associated with users consumer “off-net“ rich media services.

Me2Mobile plans to capitalize on the introduction of these services and will look to include further rich media services as part of our wholesale offer in addition to SMS and payment

• Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
  • Try to use past trends to predict the future and then jump in ahead of the game.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses and build a strong team around you
  • Hard work but have fun.

Thanks to the founders of Me2mobile for sharing their thoughts. We look forward to hear from them in future on the progress of Me2Mobile. All the best for Me2mobile and the competition in this carnival.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vishal, thanks for the great comp. Some great companies are on show. Looking forward to the results