TLabs Showcase focus on startups featuring UK-based mobile travel technology company Fonmigo.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
My name is Tomas Mendoza and I’m the managing director and founder of Fonmigo.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
I started the business with financial backing from friends and family.
What problem are you trying to solve?
We are helping international travellers avoid excessive international roaming charges, and remain truly mobile and connected. Our service saves the consumer up to 80% on US international roaming charges.
Just checking one email with a picture attached can cost a US traveller $40 on international data charges.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Fonmigo is a convenient and ready-to-go communication solution for international travellers visiting the UK. Fonmigo Smartphone and mobile wi-fi rental services allow consumers to choose how to stay connected.
- Fonmigo Smartphone: a local smartphone rental service that includes unlimited internet, a local number, and free access to local fonmigo services (in-phone guide, useful local contacts, and mobile concierge).
- Mobile Wi-Fi: a rental service of a Wireless modem that connects all Wi-Fi enabled devices, like an iPhone or laptop, to 3G internet anywhere in the UK. A simple and convenient service that allows smartphone, iPad, iPhone, e-book, and laptop users to remain fully connected and avoid international data rates.
Our approach to solving roaming is complete and designed with traveller in mind. We go beyond offering just a SIM card a solution that is confusing to many travellers and only solves the problem for 30% of them.
Another clear distinction between our service and other international roaming providers is that fonmigo enables Smartphone, iPad, and iPhone users to remain connected with their own devices even if they are locked.
Fonmigo services are delivered directly to the consumer (eg hotel) ready-to-go (ie. charged and pre-paid). We understand the time of the traveller is precious. For this reason fonmigo offers 24 hr customer service and express handset replacement. We can deliver replacements within 12 anywhere in the UK and 2 hours in London.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We have initially focused on the international leisure travellers visiting the UK. We are launching soon a specific proposition for business travellers. At the end of 2010 we will expand the business into other European countries. The idea is to offer a pan-European service.
Our customers are mobile phone, iPad, e-book, and laptop users. Anyone that wants to remain connected.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
That is the route we decided to take since the beginning. I worked five years in the hedge fund industry and I knew it was going to make things easier.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
The business model is based on renting travellers mobile wireless devices and selling the communication services behind them. We make money on both the renting and the voice and data consumption.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Unique mobile wi-fi service, customer service, focus on the travel market and data communication services, key partnerships in the pipeline, suite of services that allow consumer to choose how to stay connect, deep understand of a niche market and the consumer.
- Lack of proprietary technology, focus on one country.
- Expansion into other countries, new partnerships, development of mobile apps, mobile travel services.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- The reduction of roaming rates (although it’s slow and against the interest of $60 billion industry).
A few friends advices that the service was not going to work. I did listen but I was convinced there was a problem nobody was addressing in a convenient and clear way.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Having key partners in the hotel, car-rental, and airline industry together with sales of over £5 million.
NB: Follow Fonmigo on Twitter.
TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.