Connect with us

Social

Q&A: Visible CEO Miguel Quiroga talks customer service, expanding service to Android users

Published

on


Image: Visible

Visible is a digital-only wireless carrier that ditches brick and mortar stores for a smartphone app that lets you “order service from your couch.” Backed by Verizon Wireless, Visible isn’t an MVNO because it’s not buying network access from Verizon. Instead, Visible has direct access to Verizon’s network as if it were its own.

For $40 a month, Visible users get unlimited talk, text, data, and mobile hotspot. That price includes taxes and fees — it’s just $40 a month. There’s a small catch in that your data speeds are limited to just 5Mbps.

At launch, Visible only supported Apple’s iPhone, but starting Thursday, the company is launching Android support in beta with Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.

Additionally, Visible will also begin selling devices directly to users who can take advantage of free overnight shipping, zero down, and familiar monthly payment plans on 11 iPhone models and the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. Lastly, Visible is launching Visible Protect, a device protection service that costs $10 a month in partnership with Assurant. 

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using an iPhone 8 with a Visible SIM card. And, despite my reservations, I have to admit that the 5Mbps speed cap hasn’t been as big of an issue as I expected.

In fact, on one occasion I used the iPhone’s hotspot as my lone internet connection for a morning. I streamed music, watched YouTube videos, and went about a typical day’s worth of work and not once did I feel like I was using a slow connection. Granted, if I needed to manage large files stored in the cloud, the speed cap would have had more of an impact.

But for browsing the web, streaming video and music, and managing my email, the speed was a non-issue.

Prior to Thursday’s announcement, I had the chance to talk with Visible CEO Miguel Quiroga and learn more about why Visible exists, how the company plans to tackle customer service, and opening up the service to Android users. Below is the conversation, edited and condensed for clarity.

visible-ceo-miguel-quiroga.jpg

Visible

ZDNet: What was the thinking behind Visible?

Quiroga: Over 60 million customers in the US switch carriers on an annual basis. One of the questions the team came up with was, Why do customers do that? Is it is a store experience? Is it the price point? Is it coverage? Maybe it’s the complexity or perhaps the lack of transparency and the hidden costs?

I think that where we arrived was that there’s an opportunity and a premise that all the different complexities don’t have to exist in this particular category, there’s a different way to do business. What we landed on here was that if you have a simple, easy to use, easy to understand offering — something that’s a high-quality product experience, and great customer service — it’s ultimately going to bring a lot of value to a customer. The idea of Visible being an all-digital carrier, that’s easier and simpler and more accessible way to both sign up and manager service from the comfort of your couch, without having any of the kind of complexity that customers often struggle with, such as what exactly is on the bill, and what does it mean — we think that’s pretty compelling. We offer a $40 unlimited data, voice minutes, and hotspot on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

ZDNet: Can explain why Visible started with iPhone first? Why not Android? It’s the opposite direction that most prepaid carriers go.

Quiroga: For us, it was really about how we were trying to launch the business and focus on the customer experience we wanted to have because the iPhone kind of category of products is much more kind of systemic as versus in the Android environment. While it’s a great ecosystem is also a little more fragmented, there are a lot more manufacturers in play. The iPhone allows us to really put much more attention on the experience. So the thinking was: focus on iOS, which allows us to do the things we need to do in parallel, we’ve been working on the Android experience as well, in addition to the type of testing and device range, and that’s required to do so. So that’s really why we focus on the iOS experience first.

ZDNet: One thing I noticed when reading about Visible is it’s almost as if you go out of your way to make sure to say you’re not an MVNO of Verizon. The exact wording is “Visible is backed by Verizon, but operates independently.” Why is it important for you to make that distinction?

Quiroga: I think a couple of things. So let’s talk about the MVNO topic real quick. From an MVNO perspective, MVNO has a very specific meaning in the industry. It’s really about the wholesale type of relationship that a company will use to buy network access in bulk. Our relationship is completely different. We’re a full facility carrier because we are directly using Verizon’s network. It’s a different offering, it allows us to prepare a type of offering that gives more value to consumers. So the fact we don’t have stores, the fact that we have that type of relationship, it allows us to essentially tap value directly to the consumer. So that’s why we make that distinction. And that’s why we’ve been really kind of focused on differentiating between what an MVNO is versus what we are.

The concept around why we talk about not being an MVNO and that Visible operates independently is because it’s a way that we look at the way we built this company and the business model. I know, it sounds like an obvious thing. But the culture that we’re building here, the types of employees, the fact that our headquarters is actually in Denver is something that’s unique, and we think it’s something that we want to make sure is clear, because the way we operate, the way we approach things with a customer-centric lens is something that’s uniquely Visible.

ZDNet: Visible’s data plans are truly unlimited, right? There’s not an arbitrary cap or slowdown at some point?

Quiroga: That’s correct, our data is unlimited.

ZDNet: Okay, but it’s capped at 5 megabits-per-second?

Quiroga: That’s right. The speed cap of 5MB was based on a lot of the research we did from a network analysis perspective around doing all the traditional things most consumers do, including streaming video, streaming of audio, as well as all the day to day activities from browsing and email. The thinking is that that gives the broad spectrum of customers that type of access they want.

ZDNet: Why launch with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus as the first devices in the Android beta?

Quiroga: With the focus on the S9 and S9 Plus, we wanted to make sure had the right type of device availability that was very popular in the US. The S9 is a very popular phone, it’s a high-quality build, and we felt that the two sizes gave customers the type of choices they’re looking for. It’s where we decided to start the Android offering, but we’ll quickly follow along with additional products that we’ll make available to customers. One of the things we didn’t want to do is wait until we had a vast catalog, then deploy to customers. We said, “You know what? Let’s get this in customers hands right away.”

ZDNet: If I was to take the SIM card and put it in a Note 9, would I be able to do change the API settings, or is there something on the network side that’s going to prevent other Android devices from working?

Quiroga: There is a concept of essentially having device certification against the network, as I’m sure you’re familiar with. So what we have currently have completed testing on for the Samsung family of products is the assignment of time. Plus. It’s not because we don’t want customers to do that. It’s just simply that we wanted to make sure the appropriate testing was done, and it would work seamlessly.

ZDNet How long do you expect the Android part of your service to be in beta? I know the iPhone beta wasn’t just a month or two, it was longer than that. How do you see the Android beta proceeding from here as you certify more devices?

Quiroga: I think it becomes a little bit of our mindset of leadership team here is that beta means different things to different industries. I often talk about the term beta, when it looks like it’s something like Google was taken to the extreme, I think of Google Maps, it was like 12 years or something crazy. We’re not gonna do that. That doesn’t work for us. Beta for us means that it’s consumer available and it works for the consumer. We’re just trying to get customer feedback to essentially improve the product line as we go. We don’t have the exact window of time, but I would say fairly quickly we would move beyond that. But for us, it’s really about focusing the beta as a way to explain to customers, please give us more feedback, because it allows us to continue to improve the product.

ZDNet: One of the biggest differences for Visible, when compared to traditional carriers, is that there’s not a place for me to go if I’m having issues with my phone and get help with it. Customer support is a big part of, I guess, a huge problem you have to solve as an online-only carrier. What kind of approaches are you taking to troubleshooting handset issues and customer support overall?

Quiroga: Our mindset here is just because we’re online doesn’t mean that there aren’t people to help and whether that’s through chat, or if we absolutely need to we can get on the phone and work through an issue. That’s one option. In addition, Visible Protect offers a type of live support, either in an Apple Care environment for iOS or from an Android perspective, there’s a network of stores which will also perform Apple Care-like support.

ZDNet: For the past few weeks I’ve been going back and forth with Google’s Fi service trying to get picture messaging to work on an iPhone XR. The customer service aspect of it has been horrible. It takes several days to get an answer through email and the entire experience just hasn’t been smooth. How does Visible get over this stigma that online-only carriers can’t provide customer support?

Quiroga: I would propose there are two scenarios. You have the online environment and you have the store environment. I’ve had similar issues with a physical store, and the downside of that is now you’re meeting the person — this is their fifth time in here and it’s still not working. To me, this is a standard customer service problem across the industry, and I’ll tell you with Visible what we’re trying to do to make it better.

What we’re trying to do is two things. One, operationally orient ourselves so that those kinds of issues with our ability to resolve, close, or at least address it, more specifically, we’re going to be in a better position. Two, there’s a mindset towards how we close these issues. Chat is one thing, but I’m a huge believer that whenever you have someone on the phone, then fix the problem. You do it, period.

ZDNet I didn’t mean to turn this into a personal thing. For me, it’s just I’ve seen this issue with Mint, and Republic — with all the other carriers that take a similar approach.

Quiroga: Here’s one other little nuance that might be interesting. All the examples you’ve provided are MVNOs, We actually own our own network and that allows us to have a type of level of network focus, intelligent insight, and trouble resolution that is unmatched in this category. That’s why we think we can ultimately solve those challenges for customers and make the type of experience you had be something that is not common.

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Social

Revolut to allow users to donate to the homeless via the Beam crowdfunding platform – TechCrunch

Published

on

The world is entering a huge cost of living crisis, which will inevitably result in a rise in homelessness. But donating to homeless people has yet to go fully digital.

Challenger bank Monzo allowed the opening of limited accounts for the homeless using methods like a benefits letter or one from a homeless shelter, for instance. But the solutions are patchy.

Howwever, with many homeless people now packing smartphones, ideally there should be simple ways of supporting them rather than shrugging away an excuse about not carrying cash.

Since launching in 2017, the Beam social enterprise has run a platform where homeless people can crowdfund themselves. For example, here’s Ali who wants who wants to move into a stable home.

Beam says it has since raised £3.2m from members of the public and supported over 850 homeless people into stable jobs and homes by matching them with ethically-checked landlords and employers.

Beam currently operates across England, Wales and Scotland, and says it plans to launch internationally in the coming year.
 
It’s now teaming up with Fintech unicorn Revolut to allow users to donate directly to homeless people through the Revolut app, making it to first UK homelessness organization added to the Revolut Donations feature. Revolut says its Donations scheme means 100% oof the money goes straight to the chosen charity or organization.

Revolut users will now be able to donate to Beam, help homeless people raise funds for training, work tools, travel costs, childcare or rental deposits, directly through the app. Funds donated to Beam through Revolut Donations are distributed equally between Beam’s beneficiaries. The impact of the donations can be seen via the Revolut impact page.

Beam claims 100% of beneficiaries reach their target within an average of 16 days.

Commenting in a statement, Alex Stephany, Founder and CEO of Beam, said: “Just as Revolut has empowered customers to make the most of their money, Beam is showing there’s a new way to support homeless people for the long-term.”

Christopher Guttridge, General Manager – Lifestyle Products, added: “By enabling users to donate electronically, and pass 100% of the donation to those who need it most, we hope that the Revolut community can support the great work that Beam and its technology is doing to solve homelessness.”

Continue Reading

Social

HBO Max is removing 36 titles and creators are not happy – TechCrunch

Published

on

HBO Max is continuing its content removal spree with 36 titles going off the service this week including 20 of its in-house productions. Other titles include originals from HBO and Cartoon Network along with a few acquired titles. The development first reported by Variety noted that this move was aligned with the big HBO Max-Discovery+ merger slotted to take place next year.

In order to prepare for the merger, the company has been silently removing titles for some weeks now. Earlier this month, during its quarterly earnings call, Warner Bros. Discovery said HBO Max will start showing Discovery+ reality shows from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network starting September 30.

“As we work toward bringing our content catalogs together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and discovery+. That will include the removal of some content from both platforms,” the firm said in a statement to Variety. We have reached out to HBO Max to learn when exactly these titles will be removed.

The company is likely removing titles to cut costs and make way for newer titles in the combined service. While it’s just a money-saving tactic for the streaming giants, creatives are worried that their hard work in creating shows will be wasted because of executive decisions.

Julia Pot, the creator the of animated show “Summer Camp Island” said on Twitter that the makers didn’t have much information about the reasons behind this move. We have asked HBO Max for a comment on its communication with creators, and we will update the story if we hear back.

Here is the full list of titles being removed from the service:

HBO Max and HBO Originals

  • 12 Dates of Christmas
  • About Last Night
  • Aquaman: King of Atlantis
  • Close Enough
  • Ellen’s Next Great Designer
  • Esme & Roy
  • The Fungies!
  • Generation Hustle
  • Generation
  • Infinity Train
  • Little Ellen
  • My Mom, Your Dad
  • My Dinner with Herve
  • Odo
  • Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness
  • Summer Camp Island
  • Share
  • The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo
  • The Runaway Bunny
  • Theodosia
  • Tig n’ Seek
  • Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs

Cartoon Network

  • Dodo
  • Elliott From Earth
  • Mao Mao, Heroes of Pure Heart
  • Mighty Magiswords
  • OK K.O.! – Let’s Be Heroes
  • Uncle Grandpa
  • Victor and Valentino

Licensed Titles

  • Detention Adventure”
  • Messy Goes to Okido
  • Mia’s Magic Playground
  • The Ollie & Moon Show
  • Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
  • Make It Big, Make It Small
  • Squish

Continue Reading

Social

Tiger Global leads new funding in savings and investments app Jar – TechCrunch

Published

on

Tiger Global has led a new funding round in Jar, the Indian fintech that is helping millions of Indians save small amounts to invest in digital gold as the startup gears up to launch a host of new offerings including insurance, mutual funds and lending.

Jar said Thursday it has raised $22.6 million in its Series B financing round. The funding values the one-year-old startup at over $300 million, it said, and saw participation from Folius Ventures, Panthera Capital, Prophetic Ventures, Yes VC, WealthFront founder Adam Nash and Founders Fund principal Zachary Hargreaves as well as early-backers Arkam Ventures, Rocketship.vc and WEH.

TechCrunch previously reported the early deliberations of the round. The Bengaluru-headquartered startup has raised over $58 million to date.

Even as banks in India have opened a billion accounts for citizens in the South Asian market, a significant number of individuals don’t maintain any savings. In the event of an unplanned expense or emergency, many are forced to rely on friends and family or shark lenders for capital injection.

Part of the reason why so many Indians never save or invest is confusion, explained Nishchay AG, co-founder and chief executive of Jar, in an interview. “Should they invest in mutual funds, stock market, crypto, various schemes from banks? The choices are aplenty as the world around them is littered with ads,” he said.

Jar is removing the pressure by giving people an asset class that Indians can relate to: gold.

(To say Indians, who have a private stash worth $1.5 trillion of the precious metal, have a fascination with gold would be an understatement. For generations, Indians across the socio-economic spectrum have preferred to stash their savings — or at least a part of it — in the form of gold. In fact, such is the demand for gold in India — Indians stockpile more gold than citizens in any other country — that the South Asian nation is also one of the world’s largest importers of this precious metal.)

A familiar asset class is part of the solution. Jar’s other value proposition is just how easy it has made it for its users to save and invest. On its eponymous app, the startup allows users to choose from different savings options such as roundups – where the nearest round number after a transaction gets saved automatically, as well as setting recurring savings amounts and performing one-time execution, explained Misbah Ashraf, co-founder of Jar.

Jar has rapidly gained traction since launching the product a year ago. Its app has amassed over 9 million registered users and each day it is clocking over 220,000 transactions, it said. The startup, which is seeing an average monthly growth of 20%, is also spending far less on attracting new users: less than $1.5 per user, it said.

Jar’s eponymous app. The startup also lets users keep a track of who all they have lent money to, and send them reminders.

“By starting with digital gold, a well-understood and well-loved asset class in India, Jar’s savings app has quickly gained trust and traction with young earners interested in developing a saving and investment strategy,” said Alex Cook, Partner at Tiger Global, in a statement. “We are impressed with the company’s rapid growth and are excited to double down as they expand into new asset classes.”

The startup, which employs about 90 people, is now gearing up to broaden its offerings. “We are working on building the most ubiquitous and contextual platform to help people navigate the financial options without getting intimidated,” said Nishchay.

Jar, which is also looking to hire another 50 people, is developing and testing secured and unsecured lending, mutual funds, fixed deposits, peer-to-peer loans, and insurance, he said. The startup plans to roll out these new offerings in the coming quarters, he said.

Misbah, whose inspiration to starting Jar was his family’s personal struggle with finances, believes that Jar has been able to help people build a habit of financing savings. These customers, most of whom he said live in small cities and towns of the country, “are now ready to explore evaluating other instrument options,” he said.

India has become a key fintech hub in the past decade as scores of banks, startups, and other institutions have raced to tap what many believe is the last great growth market.

For years, local legacy banks and mutual funds have been trying to tap India masses with their products. But their non-personalized offerings and over-reliance on local credit bureau’s books have cut their customer base to just 30 million individuals.

“Manufacturing a product is one thing and being able to sell it is another. All these institutions are good at manufacturing. For selling, you have to be aligned with the individual’s persona, idiosyncrasies, insecurities, cognitive load and the cultural significance. That’s an art and science by itself,” said Nishchay in an earlier interview.

“Jar’s growth story would be incomplete without the mention of the guard rails that have preemptively been put in place to make growth a controllable output versus it an incomprehensible vector. The company has an equal measure of thoughtful execution as well as a high standard of transparency where stakeholders ranging from employees, partners, and investors are fully aware of key initiatives and priorities. We are sure this approach is helping create a sustainable company with a predictable growth trajectory,” said Rahul Chandra, Managing Director of Arkam Ventures, in a statement.

Continue Reading

Trending