Gigs raises $20 million to help any company become an MVNO • CableFree TV

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

The new startup wants to make it easy for any company to sell phones and data plans as part of their own branded mobile network subscriptions — and to help, it enlisted the support of high-profile investors, including early-stage venture arm Google Gradient. Ventures and the CEO of Uber.

concerts, which was founded in Germany back in 2020 and bills itself as the “Telephone Rate Band”, has largely gone unnoticed until now. However, the Berlin-based startup went through the Y Combinator acceleration program. last year and secured approximately $4 million in funding (via a convertible loan) ahead of the $20 million Series A round it is announcing today.

In short, Gigs allows any company – be it a bank, a taxi 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 might want to launch a fully functional mobile network with their own branding, or a 4G-enabled wearable device manufacturer might want to monetize a data subscription on top of each. the physical unit they are selling. Or perhaps the company’s HR department has decided that it wants to ship its own phone plans along with its employees’ devices.

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

In the USA, for example, have google file which is based on T-Mobile and US Cellular, and Mint Mobile maintained by Ryan Reynolds, which supports the T-Mobile infrastructure. Elsewhere in the world there is Aldi Talk — MVNO based on the German supermarket giant Aldi, which relies on the Telefónica network in several markets, while UK has dozens of MVNOs which lease spectrum from the country’s four major operators.

MVNO in a box

But while any company can already become an MVNO, it’s usually a time-consuming and labor-intensive process that doesn’t provide flexibility in the long run. And then Giggs enters the fray.

Today, any organization that wants to offer data plans (i.e., become an MVNO) will have to negotiate terms with the major telecommunications providers—in the US, these include AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon—which is not only expensive, but requires significant technical preparatory work related to network integration and the creation of software for managing user subscriptions.

Gigs, on the other hand, consolidates all carrier APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) into one easy-to-access layer, lowering the barrier to entry.

“With Gigs, companies will be able to offer phone plans in any market they operate in at a significantly lower cost through the same integration within two to 14 days,” Gigs CEO Herman Frank told TechCrunch. “Ultimately, thanks to the Gigs infrastructure, businesses can create their own mobile services that perfectly match their corporate identity, at least 20 times faster, easier and cheaper.”

Gigs co-founders Dennis J. Bauer and Herman Frank Image Credits: Concerts

Gigs can offer this by buying large amounts of data, voice, and SMS, and then allocating that capacity to meet the demands of their customers in the markets they operate in—which is cheaper than if the company negotiated prices just for their own needs.

“We can then structure our own plans with our own pricing and create custom packages based on our clients’ needs,” Frank said. “We also have standard market plans that you find with other operators that can simply be resold by our customers at an attractive markup.”

SIM city

While Gigs offers traditional “physical” SIMs as a white label product, the advent of the modern Embedded SIM (eSIM) simplifies things by allowing companies to provide real-time virtual SIMs on any number of devices. Latest iPhones you don’t even have a physical sim slot in the US markettherefore, Gigs has at least one vision for the future, in which it will serve digital MVNOs without any physical burden.

Indeed, the company currently provides eSIM activation by allowing the end user to scan a simple QR code. And with support for both SIM and eSIM, Gigs can effectively reach 100% of the markets it enters.

“The process and hurdles associated with carrier integration and the ability to sell data plans and how we deliver data 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 the device obsolete and therefore simplifies the activation process.”

Gigi SIM and eSIM

In addition to the core API, the company also offers a software suite called Gigs Connect, which Frank says is a hosted checkout “optimized for high end-user conversions.” This verification can be embedded with a simple link that is inserted into the customer’s product (for example, an online store selling smartwatches).

Obviously, this is in everyone’s interest – the easier it is for their customers to sell plans for smartphones, wearables, or IoT devices, the more revenue both Gigs and their customers can generate.

Gigs: plan illustrated on phone and smart watch Image Credits: Concerts

Separately, Gigs also offers a SMB phone and device subscription management platform called Gigs Teams, as well as a dashboard that gives customers a complete overview of all subscriptions, payments, and analytics in a single interface.

Concert control panel Image Credits: Concerts

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

It’s all about undifferentiated hard work, allowing companies to add value to their core product or service without losing their core competencies. For Gigs, that means implementing embedded phones and data plans by abstracting away all the complexity that typically comes with becoming a global network operator, which Frank says is reduced to five API calls.

“Gigs is creating a category of telecommunications as a service,” he said. “We are the first to do what Stripe did for payments or AWS for hosting.”

Market Opportunities

The MVNO market was tied to $62 billion industry last year, a figure projected to reach over $91 billion within five years. But that’s not counting the new generation of MVNOs that can open a store overnight, so it’s hard to gauge just how big the addressable market is. Indeed is.

“Many of the companies we spoke to in various industries were thinking about starting their own MVNOs or acquiring MVNOs, often after they had been trying to do things on their own with carriers for over a year,” Frank said. “Theoretically, 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 commitments—have proven insurmountable for most businesses.”

This gets even more complicated when a company wants to launch its MVNO in multiple markets around the world.

“You will have to overcome the same barriers to enter every single market, which will be a long and very costly process,” continued Frank. “Thanks to Gigs, you can manage all your connectivity needs across all markets with a single integration and launch your own MVNO within days.”

It’s also hard to ignore Giggs’ stellar lineup of investors. In addition to lead sponsor Gradient Ventures, YC has reinvested through its sequel YC continuity fund, while Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also put some money into the post, along with DoorDash CEO Tony Xu, Instacart CEO Fiji Simo, and a host of angel investors from across the tech landscape.

This helps highlight Gigs’ primary target market, which will essentially be the US, even though it is very open to business in other markets. The company’s core API is officially out of beta today, having been limited to “selected partners” so far, 70% of which are based in the US, 20% in Europe, and 10% in Asia.

It’s also worth noting that, like almost every startup these days, Gigs is a remote-first company with 30% of its staff based in Germany, 30% in the US, 20% in the UK and 20% in a small number of countries around the world, including Italy, Georgia, Greece, Switzerland and South Africa.

“Most of our team are Americans, either in the US or in Europe,” Frank explained. “The US remains the most important single market for most tech companies with the most diverse tech scene, and Gigs is no exception.”

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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