October 1, 2007
By Paula Bernier
MINO Wireless USA Inc., a new service provider offering mobile VoIP services for the enterprise, has unveiled a comprehensive certified reseller program. The program will provide a range of benefits to MINO partners from tailored compensation to sales and marketing support programs.
Jing Liu, CEO and founder of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based MINO, says most wireless mobile dealers just get a onetime spiff, but MINO is offering recurring monthly residual commissions to its partners.
Certified resellers will have an assigned MINO sales support team and a partner Web site. Resellers will be able to participate in a lead-generation program provided by MINO. Webinars and training also will be available as part of the program, as will technical support, beta previews, product trials and demo systems.
Liu, a serial entrepreneur, got the idea for MINO in late 2004 when he was doing a lot of travel in Asia. At the time, Liu says, he had difficulty cost-effectively communicating with colleagues, customers and suppliers back home because cellular roaming abroad is so expensive and Internet cafes are not convenient. So, in April 2006, Liu raised $1.5 million from TNP on the Road Corp. (Japan/Silicon Valley Fund), Freeze LLC, AWE net, and a few angel investors in Silicon Valley and Asia.
Later, in 2006, Liu launched MINO, which offered a Web site at which people could register and get instructions to download a VoIP client to their cell phones. MINO has a variety of international calling zones. To offer an example of its pricing, Liu says a subscriber using a Skype client to call a United Kingdom cell phone would pay between 22 cents to 25 cents per minute while the same call on a MINO-enabled device would be about 8 cents per minute.
At first, Liu focused on the prepaid consumer market, but it didnt take long for him to realize that those who need this product most are business people with PDAs. So, by September 2006, MINO had retooled its business plan to enable corporations to sign up and manage multiple user accounts. With this new business plan under its belt, MINO was able to convince Canaan Partners to provide an additional $7 million in funding.
MINO distributes its services to its customer target, Fortune 500 companies, with a direct sales staff, which currently numbers five, and a slightly larger collection of resellers, which numbers less than 10.
MINOs initial service is based on Research in Motion Ltd.s BlackBerry device, but the company expects to add support for Windows Mobile-based devices this fall.
The MINO Enterprise for BlackBerry solution has been designed for ease of deployment and maintenance for BlackBerry devices. The MINO software resides on a BlackBerry Enterprise server and can be pushed down to a users BlackBerry device, letting companies decide how and when to distribute the software. A management application allows visibility into individual calling logs, billing and other account information.
Calls are easy for users to make because MINO is integrated with their BlackBerry address book. Users also can select whether the call is charged to the enterprise or to their individual accounts. This capability is expected to greatly reduce the number of personal calls that are billed to corporate accounts, according to MINO.
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