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Gigs raises $20M for any company to become an MVNO • Technology Flow

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

Giggs, founded back in 2020 from Germany and pitched as a “strip for phone plans,” has largely flown under the radar until now. However, the Berlin-based startup graduated Y Combinator’s accelerator program last year and has secured nearly $4 million in funding (via a convertible loan) ahead of a $20 million Series A round announced today.

In a nutshell, Giggs allows any company — be it 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 can be fully customized for a specific use, for example a retail chain may want to launch a fully featured mobile network with their own branding, or a 4G-enabled wearable manufacturer may want to monetize a data subscription on top of each. The physical unit they sell. Or, perhaps, the company’s HR department decided to ship its own phone plans along with their employees’ devices.

We are talking about Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO), of which there are already plenty around the world.

In the US, for example, there’s Google Fi, built on T-Mobile and US Cellular, and the Ryan Reynolds-backed Mint Mobile, which piggybacks on T-Mobile’s infrastructure. Elsewhere in the world, there’s Aldi Talk — an MVNO powered by German supermarket giant Aldi — that relies on Telefonica’s network in some markets, while the UK counts dozens of MVNOs that lease spectrum from the country’s four major carriers.

MVNO in a box

While it’s already possible for any company to become an MVNO, it’s usually a difficult and time-consuming process – which ultimately offers little flexibility. And this is where Giggs steps in.

Today, any company that wants to offer phone plans (ie become an MVNO) has to negotiate terms with the big telecom providers – in the US these include AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon – which is not only an expensive process to undertake. , but requires significant technical spadework involving network integrations and building software to manage user subscriptions.

Gigs, on the other hand, brings all telecom operators’ APIs (application programming interfaces) into a single easily accessible layer, lowering the barrier to entry.

“With Giggs, companies can offer significantly lower cost phone plans in any market they operate in, all within two to 14 days through a single integration,” Giggs CEO Hermann Frank explained to Technology Flow. “Ultimately, businesses can create their own mobile service that matches their brand identity at least 20 times faster, simpler and cheaper by building Gigs’ infrastructure.”

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Giggs was co-founded by Dennis J. Bauer and Hermann Frank Image Credits: Gigs

Giggs can provide this by purchasing large amounts of data, voice and SMS capacity, then distributing this capacity to its customers in the markets they serve as needed – which works out to be cheaper than negotiating company rates. their own needs.

“We can design our own plans with our own pricing and create bespoke packages based on our customers’ needs,” says Frank. “We also have market-standard plans that you’ll find on other carriers that our customers can resell at an attractive margin.”

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 in real-time across any number of devices. 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, where it can power digital MVNOs without a physical footprint.

In fact, the company currently enables eSIM activations by allowing the end user to scan a simple QR code. And by supporting both SIM and eSIM, Gigs can effectively address 100% of the markets it enters.

“The process and hurdles of connecting with a carrier and selling phone plans, as well as how we offer phone plans, are the same for both physical SIM and eSIM,” explained Frank. “[But] The eSIM now makes the physical card the last step in obsolescence of the device and thus simplifies the activation process.

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Gigs SIM and eSIM

On top of the main API, the company also offers a software suite called Gigs Connect, which is basically a hosted checkout that is “optimized for high end-user conversions,” according to Frank. This checkout is embedded using a simple link pasted to the customer’s product (eg an online store that sells smartwatches).

This is clearly in everyone’s interests — making it easier for its own customers to sell plans for smartphones, wearables or IoT devices means both Gigs and its customers can generate more revenue.

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Platforms: Plan described on phone and smartwatch Image Credits: Gigs

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

Gigs Dashboard

Gigs Dashboard Image Credits: Gigs

The ethos behind it all is the same as how fintech giant Stripe helps merchants sell online by providing payment infrastructure through common APIs, or how Amazon Web Services (AWS) is now the default cloud computing infrastructure for millions.

It’s about a different kind of heavy-lifting — allowing companies to add value to their core product or service without losing focus on their core competencies. For Giggs, powering embedded phone and data plans captures all the complexities typically involved in becoming a global network operator, reducing it to just five API calls, according to Frank.

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

Market opportunity

The MVNO market was cited as a $62 billion industry last year, a figure expected to reach $91 billion in five years. But that new breed of MVNO can set up shop overnight without reason, so it’s hard to gauge how big the addressable market is. Really There is

“Many companies from various industries we’ve talked to have thought about starting their own MVNO or buying an MVNO, often after trying to set themselves up with carriers for more than a year,” Frank said. “In theory, you can easily unlock new revenue streams with an MVNO, but the barriers to entry – lengthy negotiations with carriers, very high setup costs and commitments – have proven insurmountable for many businesses.”

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

“You have to overcome the same barriers to enter every single market, which is going to be a long and very expensive process,” Frank continued. “With Giggs, you can manage all your connectivity needs in all markets through a single integration and launch your own MVNO in days.”

It’s also hard to ignore Giggs’ stellar cast of investors. Along with lead backer Gradient Ventures, YC reinvested through its follow-on YC Continuity Fund, while Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also threw some cash into the post, along with DoorDash CEO Tony Xu, Instacart CEO Fiji Simo and several angel investors. Across the technology landscape.

This helps to highlight Giggs’ main target market, which, while very open for business in other markets, is sizable in the US. The company’s core API officially exits beta today, so far limited to “select partners,” 70% of which are in the US, 20% in Europe and 10% in Asia.

Like almost every startup these days, Giggs is a remote-first company, with 30% of its headcount in Germany, 30% in the US, 20% in the UK and 20% scattered across countries including Italy, Georgia, Greece, Switzerland and South Africa.

“Most of our team is Americans – Americans in the US or in Europe,” explains Frank. “The US remains the most critical single market for most technology businesses, with a highly diverse technology landscape, and this is no different for Giggs.”

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