June 7, 2023

A new startup wants to make it easier for any company to sell phone and data plans as part of its private-label mobile web subscription — and to help, it has secured prominent investors including Google’s early-stage venture arm Gradient of Ventures and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

showThe company launched in Germany in 2020 and has positioned itself as the “Stripe for cellphone plans,” but so far it’s largely been under the radar.However, the Berlin-based startup did graduate from Y Combinator’s accelerator program last year And secured about $4 million in funding (through a convertible loan) ahead of a $20 million Series A round announced today.

In short, Gigs 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, text messages, and voice) to their customers. These plans are fully customizable for specific use cases, for example, a retail chain might want to launch a fully functional mobile network with its own brand, or a 4G-enabled wearables maker might want to monetize data subscriptions. The physical units they sell. Or, maybe, a company’s human resources department decides to offer its own phone plan with an employee’s device.

Of course, we’re talking about mobile virtual network operators (virtual network operator), of which there are already many all over the world.

For example, in the US, Google Fi is built on T-Mobile and US Cellular, while Ryan Reynolds-backed Mint Mobile powers T-Mobile’s infrastructure.In other parts of the world, there are aldi talk — MVNOs backed by German supermarket giant Aldi — rely on Telefónica’s network in a few markets, while UK counts dozens of MVNOs Leasing spectrum from the country’s four major operators.

MVNO in a box

But while it’s already possible for any company to become an MVNO, it’s often a laborious and time-consuming process — ultimately offering little flexibility. This is where Gigs enters the fray.

Today, any entity that wants to offer a phone plan (i.e. become an MVNO) has to negotiate terms with the big telecom providers (including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the US), which is not only an expensive process. , but requires a lot of technical work, including network integration and having to build software to manage user subscriptions.

Gigs, on the other hand, consolidates all telcos’ APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) into one easily accessible layer, thus lowering the barriers to entry.

Gigs CEO Hermann Frank explained to TechCrunch, “With Gigs, companies will be able to offer telephony plans at significantly reduced costs in any market they operate in, all within 2 to 14 days with the same integration.” “Ultimately, businesses can create their own mobile services at least 20 times faster, simpler and cheaper by building Gigs’ infrastructure that fits their brand identity seamlessly.”

Gigs co-founders Dennis J. Bauer and Hermann Frank Image credit: The show

Gigs is able to provide this by purchasing large amounts of data, voice and SMS capacity and then allocating that capacity across the markets in which they operate based on customer requirements – more than companies do for their own needs.

“We can then create our own plans at our own prices and create customized packages based on the needs of our customers,” Frank said. “We also have market standard plans that other operators can find that can simply be resold by our customers at attractive profits.”


While Gigs offers traditional “physical” SIM cards as a white-label product, the advent of modern embedded SIM (eSIM) cards makes things easier by enabling companies to configure virtual SIM cards on any number of devices in real-time. The latest iPhones don’t even have a physical SIM card slot in the US market, which is why Gigs has at least set his sights on a future where digital MVNOs are powered without any physical space.

In fact, the company currently enables eSIM activation by allowing end users to scan a simple QR code. By supporting both SIM and eSIM, Gigs can effectively address 100% of the market it enters.

“The process and barriers to integrating with carriers and being able to sell phone plans, and how we deliver phone plans, is the same for both physical SIMs and eSIMs,” explained Frank. “[But] eSIM now simplifies the activation process by eliminating the last step of having to put a physical card into the device. “

Gig SIM and eSIM

In addition to the main API, the company offers a software suite called Gigs Connect, which is basically a hosted checkout “optimized for high-end user conversions,” according to Frank. This checkout can be embedded using a simple link that is pasted into a customer’s product, such as an online store that sells smartwatches.

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

The show: plans to showcase on phones and smartwatches Image credit: The show

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

gig dashboard Image credit: The show

The spirit behind all of this is the same as how fintech giant Stripe helps merchants sell online through a simple suite of APIs that serve payment infrastructure, and even how Amazon Web Services (AWS) is now the default cloud computing infrastructure for millions of users. very similar.

It’s all about undifferentiated heavy lifting — allowing companies to add value to their primary product or service without losing core competencies. For Gigs, that means powering embedded phone and data plans by abstracting away all the complexities typically involved in being a global network operator, down to just five API calls, Frank said.

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

Market opportunities

The MVNO market is seen as $62 billion industry last year, this figure is expected to exceed $91 billion in five years.But that doesn’t take into account the new MVNOs that can build stores overnight, making it difficult to assess the size of the addressable market real Yes.

“Many of the companies we spoke to from a variety of industries have considered launching their own MVNOs, or considering acquiring an MVNO, usually after trying to build a relationship with an operator for over a year,” Frank said. “In theory, you can easily unlock new revenue streams with an MVNO, but the barriers to entry — long negotiations with operators, very high setup costs and commitments — are insurmountable for most businesses.”

The situation is more complicated when a company wants to launch its MVNO in multiple markets around the world.

“You have to overcome the same hurdles to enter every market, and it’s going to be a long and costly process,” Frank continued. “With Gigs, you can manage all your connectivity needs across all markets with one integration and launch your own MVNO within days.”

It’s also hard to ignore Gigs’ first-class investors.In addition to lead backer Gradient Ventures and Uber head Dara Khosrowshahi, YC has reinvested through its follow-on investments YC Continuity The fund joins DoorDash CEO Tony Xu, Instacart CEO Fidji Simo, and a slew of angel investors from across the tech space.

It also helps to highlight Gigs’ core target market, which will largely revolve around U.S. companies, although it’s very open to business elsewhere. The company’s core API is officially out of beta today, and so far it’s been limited to “select partners,” with 70% in the US, 20% in Europe, and 10% in Asia.

It’s also worth noting that, like almost all startups today, Gigs is a remote-first company with 30% of its workforce based in Germany, 30% in the US, 20% in the UK, and 20% in locations including Italy, Georgia, Greece, countries around the world, including Switzerland and South Africa.

“The majority of our team is American — either in the US or Europe,” explained Frank. “For most tech companies, the U.S. remains the single most important market with the most diverse tech scene, and Gigs is no exception.”

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