Setting off to disrupt the telecommunications industry, VoxEra has so far exceeded its crowdfunding goal by over 200%.
“Globally, there are 1.2 billion travellers per year, 32 per cent of whom are active roamers, and most pay over $100 per month for it,” says Amr Elgbaly, the Egyptian entrepreneur behind the startup, VoxEra, which is setting off to kill roaming fees.
Together with Armenian co-founder Arev Hayrapetyan, Elgbaly designed a tiny device and a mobile app that merges technologies such as cloud hosting and Voice over IP (VoIP), to allow travellers to make calls and send SMSs at their local rate per call minute using WiFi signal, 3G and 4G. “In 2013, mobile operators generated $57 billion, 64 per cent of which were made in voice roaming. Plus, in the USA, over 1,000 companies are spending $20 million for their employees’ mobile roaming” explains co-founder Hayrapetyan.
The idea of a device to ‘kill’ roaming fees came up as Elgbaly began experimenting, building on over 15 years of experience in VoIP technologies. After a first prototype, he collected a team of product and hardware designers to develop and test the device. After participating in incubation programs in the AUC and EBNI and several startup competitions and TV shows – including Lamis el Hadidi’s newly launched segment Hona el Shabab - the entrepreneurs are now taking it online, launching the device through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, which has already surpassed its goal to raise $20,000 by over 200 per cent.
“Last year, we participated in different competitions but we didn't win, as the jury was sure that the market doesn't need our product. So Kickstarter was a good opportunity for us to check that out, as the meaning of crowdfunding is not just raising funds but validating the idea as well,” says Hayrapetyan, whose partner was featured in CairoScene's 25 under 25 entrepreneurs last year. “So we wrote a script, shot a video, made an attractive design for our campaign and now, we have over $64.000 in VoxEra’s bank account”, she adds, pointing out the massive amount of backers the campaign has gotten so far.
“We proved that market needs VoxEra, we have funds to go to market, we have potential customers, and we are super motivated; but on the other hand, we realise that this is just the start. Now we are concentrating on our product to deliver it on time in June,” she adds. The device, sold at $119, can be reserved through the Kickstarter campaign - which ends on April 12th - at a discounted price.
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