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Jignesh Dave on scaling strategies

How to scale from start-up to multinational MVNO

Jignesh Dave, Founder & CEO of Next360, outlines his company’s journey to multinational

cellular operator, with a footprint in 31countries.

“All changes are hard at first, messy in the middle, but beautiful at the end.”

Hard at first...

This summer, in the northern hemisphere, we decided that Covid was something that we were all starting to live with and that it was time to get back to business.

We started selling SIM cards in our distribution market and we saw two extremes. One was WBT – way before technology – which is another way of saying that people wanted physical SIMs. But in the forums that we were running, people were asking for eSIM.

Continuing on the theme of extremes – we had grandparents travelling from markets like India to Europe who had no idea what eSIM is. They aren’t, understandably, clued up about technology or connectivity. At the other end of the scale are the millennials who sit on the same table, connecting but not actually talking

to each other!

We also learnt a very solid lesson about the importance of focusing on the need of the consumer rather than thinking from the producer perspective. With this in mind, we had a challenge in that we needed both the millennials and the older generations to adjust their own respective journeys.

Messy in the middle...

Next360 was founded in 2017, so we were only active for a few years before the pandemic, when travel of course stopped meaning that our business came to a standstill. Our vision is to make life simple for a global traveller, and there were virtually no global travellers during Covid.

Like an aircraft, business has to go up, right? Business has to take off. When we were trying to scale, we were trying to balance a number of factors – being valuable as well as unique and difficult to imitate – as well as running a business. This involved focusing on who our key partners were, the key resources that

we needed and the key activities that we had to undertake in order to achieve that multi- country MVNO level where we could create an integrated solution for a traveller. And then there was desirability, too. So, forexample, how did we want to build our customer relationships? What channels and segments did we want to focus on? Should we go digital, or down the unorganised retail route. Should we use travel ecosystem or go online with the and Experians of the world? Finally, we had viability. Was cost effectiveness something that we needed to focus on, or should we be looking at a high RPU?

In terms of further scaling strategies, we were of course targeting global travel and adding new networks. The countries that people travel a lot to were crucial to us, so we conducted market mapping into our distribution. We also analysed and figured out which networks we needed to add in in the future.

... beautiful at the end

We expanded our distribution presence in various markets. We have Asia covered, we’re in Africa and we’re getting into the UK market for distribution in terms of travellers. We also started allowing the travel ecosystem to use our infrastructure and provide those connectivity products to their customers, thus enabling an aggregation for exponential growth. Because of Covid, we launched our domestic market in South Africa, which became a very solid proof of concept for us and now we are taking that same model to other markets that we’ve identified. This means we will be launching domestic markets in a number of other geographies.

Key takeaway: When you’re trying to scale, you’ll have to balance being valuable, unique, desirable and difficult to imitate with the actual day-to-day running of your business. In order to do all of this effectively, ensure you have trusted partners in place that you can lean on for support.

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