The Entrepreneur Who Will Change Your Mobile Phone Bill

The Entrepreneur Who Will Change Your Mobile Phone Bill

David Morken admits that the promise he made to reward his kids with iPhones if they brought home straight A’s was no stroke of genius. But the business concept inspired by the ensuing $1,000-plus phone bills may well turn out to be.

Launched nationally in December 2012, Morken’s brainchild, Republic Wireless, is a $19-per-month voice, text and data service that relies on Wi-Fi as its primary network. When Wi-Fi isn’t accessible–roughly 40 percent of the time for Republic customers, according to Morken–calls automatically bounce to Sprint’s 3G cellular network.

The pillar of the low-cost Republic model is a solid but no-frills Android handset, the Motorola Defy XT, which allows Republic to offer a low-cost, contract-free wireless service package with unlimited voice, data and texting after paying an initial $249 for the phone.

In taking on the $178 billion wireless industry, Morken is counting on customers to flock because they already rely on Wi-Fi at home, at the office and in an increasing number of public and private spaces. “The future of mobile technology and the essence of the smartphone, I believe, is Wi-Fi,” he says. “It will continue to eat the world because it’s so much cheaper.”

Turns out Morken’s vision of Wi-Fi dominance may be closer than you think. The Wireless Broadband Alliance predicts that the number of hotspot deployments globally will nearly triple between 2012 and 2015–fortifying a reach that Morken says is broad enough to make the Republic model viable. Already, Republic customers can be linked in automatically to 11 million public hotspots using the company’s Wi-Fi+ app.

Republic’s model, observes technology industry analyst Jeff Kagan, “is innovative, but there are trade-offs for the customer because all the kinks haven’t been worked out yet.” Indeed, Republic’s unique value proposition also happens to be its weakest link, at least for now: At times users must contend with interrupted calls stemming from a less-than-seamless Wi-Fi-to-cellular handoff.

But that hasn’t stopped Republic Wireless from signing up “tens of thousands” of new customers each month, according to Morken, suggesting that mobile phone users are willing to live with those shortcomings. And he vows that they won’t have to for much longer; by early fall, the company plans to unveil updated software that he expects will largely resolve the handover issue. Republic will also add two more Android handset options.

Morken says he expects those improvements to attract more first-time smartphone users–the college students, cost-conscious Millennials, bargain hunters and land-line cord-cutters who comprise the bulk of Republic’s customer base. But what he really wants is for Republic to be the carrier that breaks the stranglehold on the wireless market held by Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

“We can’t outspend the major carriers,” he acknowledges, “so this is going to have to stand on value.” And that’s a concept we can all agree is most welcome in today’s mobile world

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227069#ixzz2izpLVhAY

 

10 Questions to ask before Determining Your Target Market

10-questions-ask-target-audience

10 Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market

The better you understand your customer, the faster your business will grow. But new ventures often struggle to define their target market and set their sights too broadly.

“We often overestimate the market size, and in many cases there may not be one at all,” says Robert Hisrich, director of the Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz.

Here are 10 questions that can help you determine whether you have a target market and what it is:

Who would pay for my product or service?
First, try to understand the problem that your product or service can solve, says Greg Habstritt, founder of SimpleWealth.com, an Alberta, Canada-based advice website for small-business owners. Then, use that information to help determine who would be willing to pay for a solution. “Not only do [your potential customers] need to have the problem, but they need to be aware they have the problem,” Habstritt says. He recommends using Google’s keyword tool to see how many people are searching for words related to your business idea.

Who has already bought from me?
To refine both your target marketing and your pricing strategy, see who has already bought your product or service, says Amos Adler, president of Memotext, a medication compliance app maker in Bethesda, Md. You can gain valuable insights by releasing the product in a test phase and letting potential consumers speak with their wallets.

Am I overestimating my reach?
It’s easy to assume that most people will need your service or product. But rather than make assumptions, reach out to groups of potential customers to get a more realistic picture of your audience and narrow your marketing efforts. You can conduct surveys, do man-on-the-street type interviews in stores, or organize small focus groups. “We get so passionate about the idea and how good it is that we overestimate the market size,” Hisrich says.

What does my network think?
As you try to understand your target market, it may be challenging — and expensive — to seek feedback from potential consumers through surveys, focus groups and other means. But you can tap into your social networks to get free feedback. Many people in your extended network will likely be willing to take the time to give you opinions and advice, says Bryan Darr, founder of Mosaik Solutions, a data analytics company in Memphis, Tenn.

Am I making assumptions based on my personal knowledge and experience?
Your own personal experience and knowledge can make you believe that you understand your target market even before you conduct any research, Habstritt says. For example, if you’re a fitness buff and want to start a business related to personal health, you may assume you know your customer. “Don’t assume that you can think like your target market,” Habstritt says. “You have to ask them and talk to them to really understand them.”

What’s my revenue model?
Figuring out how you’ll reap revenue can help you find your target market, Hisrich says. Social ventures can be particularly tricky, he says, because without a specific plan for getting revenue it’s easy to overestimate the size of the customer base. But if you’re revenue model is simply selling a product online, it can be easier to figure out a target customer.

How will I sell my product or service?
Your retailing strategy can help determine your target market, Hisrich says. Will you have a store, a website or both? Will you be marketing only in your home country or globally? For example, an online-only business may have a younger customer than one with stores. A brick-and-mortar business may narrow your target market to people in the neighborhood.

How did my competitors get started?
Evaluating the competition’s marketing strategy can help you define your own target customer, says Darr. But of course, don’t simply copy the marketing approach of your biggest competitors once you define your target consumers. “You must have a way of differentiating what you are doing from what the other guys offer,” he says.

How will I find my customers?
As you start defining your target customers, try to determine whether you can efficiently market to them. You’ll need to do some market research and study your target audience’s demographic, geographic and purchasing patterns. If you’re selling from a storefront, you need to know how many people in your target market live nearby. If you’re selling from a website, you need to learn about your prospective customers’ online behavior. Understanding how to locate your customers early on can help you establish a game plan once you start building a marketing strategy, Hisrich says.

Is there room to expand my target market?
Be prepared to redefine your target market or to expand it over time, Darr says. For example, figuring out whether you’re targeting a domestic consumer or customers throughout the world can be a good start. As the power of mobile mapping has grown in the last decade, he’s seen the number of target markets grow at his own firm. In the beginning, Mosaik dealt mostly with wireless operators, but now he also counts cable providers and broadcasters as clients, Darr says.