Primo Di­als Lo­cal Mo­bile Phone Car­ri­ers for In­dia Con­nect

The US-based co, which cre­ated Primo app, aims to tap the lo­cal mar­ket bet­ter to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive to ex­pen­sive call­ing plans

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Shash­wati.Shankar @times­

Ben­galuru: US-based Primo Con­nect, which cre­ated the mes­sag­ing and call­ing mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion Primo, is in talks with In­dian mo­bile phone car­ri­ers to bet­ter tap the lo­cal mar­ket which now ac­counts for 10% of its user base.

Primo aims to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive to ex­pen­sive call­ing plans. It com­petes with in­ter­na­tional mes­sag­ing and call­ing play­ers in­clud­ing What­sApp and Viber. The app, which is in its beta phase, claims to have won over 50,000 sub­scribers in the first three months of launch. The com­pany’s fo­cus on In­dia strength­ened af­ter its sub­scriber base in­di­cated In­dian mi­grant work­ers in lo­ca­tions like Saudi Ara­bia were us­ing the app to con­nect with fam­i­lies in In­dia. “About 10% of our user base is in In­dia, an­other 60% of our base are NRIs lo­cated in the Per­sian Gulf re­gion. This is noted from the call­ing ac­tiv­ity from that base to In­dia,” said Chris Fur­long, co­founder of Primo. “With 16-mil­lion In­di­ans re­sid­ing out­side In­dia, we are fo­cused on cre­at­ing a car­rier that is ca­pa­ble of com­muni- cation be­tween the mo­bile phone net­work and apps.” Primo, which was in­cu­bated by sis­ter com­pany US mo­bile car­rier Ul­tra Mo­bile, is in­tro­duced as an ex­ten­sion of Ul­tra’s in­ter­na­tional call­ing ser­vice. In other mar­kets, like In­dia, China and Europe the com­pany plans to em­ploy a mix of paid, freemium and spon­sor­ship­based call­ing plans.

The startup claims it dif­fer­en­ti­ates it­self through call­ing with­out dis­tur­bances, with plans of in­tro­duc­ing al­ter­nate call­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Fur­long, Primo is in part­ner­ship talks with In­dian mobi- le phone car­ri­ers, cur­rently fo­cus­ing on a cost ef­fec­tive or free way to use the app. He did not give names of the com­pa­nies Primo is ne­go­ti­at­ing with.

“Our fo­cus is on qual­ity voice call­ing, con­nect­ing peo­ple across borders and net­works. In time we will have full fea­ture par­ity with ser­vices that could in­clude al­ter­nate ways of mak­ing calls through chat­bots to ex­tend­ing the role of the car­rier past a phone ser­vice to so­cial me­dia, apps or from your SIM card,” Fur­long said. Since its launch in Jan­uary 2015, the startup claims to have re­ceived in­ter­est from in­di­vid­ual in­vestors of­fer­ing over $3.5 mil­lion.

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