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How Start-Ups Can Partner with Mobile Network Operators

By Guest Writer on December 26, 2018

startup mno partnership

Mobile devices in emerging markets are becoming ubiquitous. By 2020, 80% of global unique mobile subscribers will be in emerging markets. While this exponential growth has turned local mobile network operators into strong economic and social forces, the new digital era in which they now operate has affected their margins, and they are desperate for high-quality innovations.

This is an opportunity for local start-ups. Mobile operators have reached the scale that start-ups lack, while start-ups are developing the local innovation mobile operators need.

A Start-Up’s Guide to Working With Mobile Operators in Emerging Markets is aimed at start-ups interested in collaborating with mobile operators in emerging markets. The GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator programme and Match-Maker Ventures teamed up to produce this guide, which walks you through the process of securing a partnership with a mobile operator in your market and answers the questions that will arise along the way.

4 Stages of Startup-MNO Partnerships

Engaging with MNOs and building a partnership is a journey, and we have identified four main stages of this journey for start-ups to collaborate with mobile operators in emerging markets

Understanding the industry

  • What are the key trends in the mobile industry?
  • How do these trends affect your business?
  • Does your solution address any of the current industry trends?
  • How can a mobile operator benefit from your solution?

Understanding your market

  • How do you overcome the specific challenges of your market?
  • What are the best sources to understand local mobile operators’ haves and needs?
  • Which mobile operator challenge or need do you want to address?
  • How do you establish contact with your potential partner?

Pitching to MNOs

  • How do you identify and involve the right stakeholders at the mobile operator?
  • How do you craft a strong pitch for these stakeholders?
  • What factors will produce a successful negotiation?
  • What is essential to stipulate at this stage? What are the “must haves” of the contract?

Making the collaboration work

  • How do you ensure the right people from the mobile operator are involved?
  • How do you track the progress? What are the right KPIs?
  • How do you manage this relationship?

Some of the most mature collaborations include Indosat Ooredoo and Wobe in Indonesia, MTN and Jumia across Sub-Saharan Africa, Safaricom and Eneza Education in Kenya, and Telenor and WowBox in Bangladesh.

Each of these partnerships was forged by mobile operators and start-ups willing to leverage their respective strengths and find common ground.

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2 Comments to “How Start-Ups Can Partner with Mobile Network Operators”

  1. Cavin Mugarura says:

    Mpesa opened the way, right now several telekoms have opened their their api s , something that was unthinkable or to phrase it better, something they thought was like opening the proverbial hell gates

  2. Jill Lagos Shemin says:

    Orange Digital Ventures launched a €50 million African corporate venture fund to stay at the helm of Africa’s mobile revolution. Here’s the GSMA’s post on their efforts.

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