Phonefinder: profiting from complexity
Start-up Phonefinder hopes to take the complexity and cost out of choosing a cellular package. By Nafisa Akabor.
Johannesburg-based start-up Phonefinder is hoping to profit from the complexity in South Africa’s mobile industry. The company is giving consumers the ability to compare mobile voice and data contracts from all the networks and service providers, allowing them to find the best deal online.
By using search and filter tools, consumers can find contracts to suit their budgets.
“The cellphone industry in South Africa is going through big changes and consumers have become bargain-savvy thanks to other comparative websites such as flight aggregators and the likes of Groupon,” says CEO and co-founder Lance Krom.
Krom was “fed up” when he returned from living in London two years ago and needed a cellphone contract. After visiting a number of websites and finding them “overly complicated”, he decided to speak to sales agents in-store. He gathered information from various shops and eventually signed a contract he thought was best, but it was far from being a fully informed decision.
“With over 2 000 deals on the market, I decided that there must be a better way,” Krom says.
Phonefinder went live in May 2012 as a “simple but effective” service that listed all cellphone contracts, allowing users to filter their desired criteria. It was recently relaunched.
“The initial website was built quickly and cheaply and was really just a test to see if the service would be well received,” says Krom. “After connecting a number of users to their ideal contract, we decided that it was time to re-do the website.”
The revamped site went live in August.
The company is self-funded by its four co-founders — Krom, Danny Aaron, Devin Karpes and Tom Goldgamer.
Krom, 31, worked in London for five years doing media planning, real-estate letting and online marketing before returning to South Africa. As CEO, he handles operations, marketing and accounts for the company.
The remaining three co-founders all jointly own a company called 3 Way Marketing. Aaron, 31, has worked in marketing and analysis at Hollard Insurance, while Goldgamer, 38, was GM at Hollard Insurance and a consultant in the insurance industry for a number of years. Both currently handle all new business and marketing at Phonefinder. Karpes, 30, used to own a design company called Peppermint Hippo, and currently serves as creative director for both 3 Way Marketing and Phonefinder.
The start-up generates income by selling leads to service providers, says Krom. “We list their deals and match them to consumers who are ready to buy.”
The company wants to become a “one-stop shop for everything cellular”.
“This will open doors to more revenue streams, including targeted advertising real estate, cellphone wallets, customer support, accessories, and data trends for networks.”
Phonefinder’s expansion plans include adding service offerings such as advanced search, options for discounted accessories and the ability to compare phone features and share opinions about devices.
“We would like to offer cellphone insurance at a discount, too,” says Krom. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media