Solavei News


Solavei raises $3.6M, touts $49 per month mobile service that rewards you with cash for signing on others

posted Aug 9, 2012, 3:31 PM by Chris Cartmill   [ updated Aug 9, 2012, 3:32 PM ]

Multi-level marketing companies have gained popularity (and notoriety) in industries as diverse as cosmetics, vitamins and cleaning products. Now, a new Seattle startup called Solavei, led by former Former Congressman Rick White and former Motricity CEO Ryan Wuerch, is looking to bring the concept to cell phone plans.

We first covered Solavei in February when we stumbled across the company, a story that has driven intense discussion from critics and supporters alike. Today, Solavei is taking wraps off the offering, saying that it plans to launch a $49 per month wireless service in September that rides on the backbone of T-Mobile’s nationwide 4G network.

In addition, the company confirmed in an interview with GeekWire that it has raised an additional$3.6 million in funding from notable investors that include Jonathan Miller, the chief digital officer at News Corp. and former CEO of AOL; David Limp, vice president of Kindle at Amazon.com; and Gary Adams, an oil & gas executive from Oklahoma. Total funding in Solavei now stands at $7.7 million, with plans to raise up to another $7 million.

Rick White

White, who represented Washington’s 1st Congressional District before going on to serve as CEO of the technology lobbying group Technet, said that the new money will be used to fund operations and launch with a “bang” in the coming weeks. Solavei already has 140 full-time employees and contractors, not to mention about 2,000 associates who’ve agreed to test and market the new service once it goes live.

There are a lot of companies already offering wireless service on the backs of other networks. But White said the “genius” of Solavei is the marketing arm, which allows customers to earn $20 per month on every three mobile-service members that they or someone in their personal network adds to Solavei. The company dubs this a ”Trio,” promising that those at the higher end of the network (with 2,000 “Trios”) could earn as much as $20,000 per month.

White scoffed at those critics who’ve labeled Solavei a pyramid scheme, saying that the company plans to follow the rules associated with multilevel marketing companies.

“You’ve got a new era coming here where the whole phenomenon of social networking is making the idea of people-to-people marketing a lot different, and a lot more exciting than it used to be,” said White, who is leading legal and policy for Solavei. “If you are a multilevel marketer, there are some rules you have to follow and … we will follow all of those rules that apply to us. We really think we are doing something just a little different. We are trying to take a new era of social networking, and all of the tools we have available, and try to figure out a way to monetize that for consumers, not just the company.”

White said the reaction to Solavei has been enormously positive, adding that they are “hitting a demographic who really can take advantage of this.” For most people, he said adding a few hundreds dollars per month in recurring revenue can change lives.

“Most Americans, that’s a big deal. It helps them buy a car, so the kind of response we’ve gotten has overwhelmed us,” he said. “We thought we’d be a little bit more in stealth mode than we are able to be right now because we’ve had such good response to it. It just seems like we are in a niche of a market to whom this makes sense.”

The company’s marketing materials indicate that its goal is to “create millions of thousandaires.”

White said that about 10,000 people have expressed interest in signing up for Solavei, with about 2,000 people testing the phones right now. “We’ve got a lot of very energetic people, people talking about it more than we thought they would be doing these days,” he said.

Solavei plans to sell HTC phones at cost to customers, but individual also will be able to port some existing GSM-based phones to the new service.

Solavei is led by Ryan Wuerch, who stepped down as CEO of Bellevue-based Motricity last year after results disappointed Wall Street. In a release today, Wuerch said that Solavei is a transformational company.

“We are going to make a difference in people’s lives by shifting billions of dollars from traditional mass-media advertising into the greatest advertising vehicle today – people,” Wuerch said. “Solavei is the first company to create an economic linkage between mobile service, social commerce and social-networking technology.

Reference:
http://www.geekwire.com/2012/stealthy-solavei-raises-cash-touts-49-month-mobile-service-rewards-subscribers-signing/

Solavei Introduces The First Social Commerce Network for Mobile Services Distribution

posted Aug 1, 2012, 9:29 AM by Chris Cartmill   [ updated Aug 8, 2012, 2:41 PM ]

BELLEVUE, Wash., July 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Addressing current economic challenges and the high cost of mobile service, Solavei™ debuts today as a new social commerce company with an affordable, contract-free mobile service that actually pays back consumers for adding new members. The Solavei Mobile Service is a comprehensive mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) utilizing T-Mobile's nationwide 4G network. Consumers simply sign up for a $49 per month unlimited voice, text and data plan and can earn income by engaging friends and family to purchase the mobile service through Solavei's integrated social networking platform.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120726/SF46750LOGO)

"We are going to make a difference in people's lives by shifting billions of dollars from traditional mass-media advertising into the greatest advertising vehicle today – people," said Ryan Wuerch, founder and CEO of Solavei. "Solavei is the first company to create an economic linkage between mobile service, social commerce and social-networking technology. We give people the opportunity to earn income by using and promoting the services they are already consuming each and every day."

Through Solavei's social media platform and mobile application, members can introduce the Solavei Mobile Service experience to others and generate income. At its simplest, members earn $20 per month on every three mobile-service members (called a "Trio") that they or someone in their personal network add to Solavei. When members have three Trios in their network, the income generated is greater than their monthly plan cost of $49, essentially making their mobile service free. Members can grow their recurring monthly income as they use their social networks to sign up more people for Solavei Mobile Service, turning their mobile phones into profit generators.

"Solavei is introducing a first-of-its-kind approach to wireless, and we're pleased to have them as a strategic MVNO partner," said Doug Chartier, senior vice president of T-Mobile. "T-Mobile's network is a strong part of the Solavei offering, giving its members the benefit of a fast, dependable mobile data network with nationwide 4G coverage."

With more than 140 full-time employees and contractors along with more than 30 industry-leading partners, Solavei is poised to make commerce less expensive and even profitable for consumers nationwide.

Delivering Value to the Mobile Consumers

"Solavei is the first company focusing to capitalize on the intersection of mobile service and social media,'' said Roger Entner, founder and lead analyst of Recon Analytics. "This offering has the potential to revolutionize, not only the mobile service industry, but many different products and services.''

Operating on the T-Mobile 4G nationwide network, Solavei gives its members the flexibility to use a compatible unlocked GSM mobile phone, or they can purchase the HTC One S, HTC Wildfire or ZTE Origin from Solavei.

Solavei Mobile Service is currently in pre-launch with thousands of members and will launch nationwide on Sept. 21, 2012.

ABOUT SOLAVEI
Solavei is a social networking and commerce platform that enables users to connect, share and capitalize on the power of social networks. Solavei's mission is to make commerce less expensive by empowering individuals to earn income on the products and services they enjoy and use every day. Solavei's initial product offering is affordable, no contract, unlimited text, voice and data services throughout the United States. It operates as a MVNO through a strategic partnership with T-Mobile USA. Solavei is led by former Fortune 100 telecom and retail executives and advisors. For more information, visit Solavei.com. For the brand's latest news and updates, find Solavei on social media at Facebook.com/Solavei and Twitter.com/Solavei.

SOURCE Solavei

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"Social" wireless company Solavei launches in Bellevue

posted Apr 15, 2012, 5:24 AM by Chris Cartmill   [ updated Aug 8, 2012, 2:42 PM ]


A new kind of wireless company surfaced today in Bellevue, one that encourages subscribers to sell subscriptions to friends and family members.

It's kind of like the Amway of wireless companies.

Called Solavei, the company is running on T-Mobile's 4G network, offering service bundled with a social network. It's now in limited testing and will launch nationally on Sept. 21.

Solavei will encourage subscribers to use the social network to get their friends and family members to switch to the service, which costs $49 per month for voice, data and text messages.

For every three people signed up via the social network - a "trio" - customers will get $20 per month. This is applied to the initial customer's bill, or returned as cash if the person generates enough business for the company. If they line up more than three trios, or nine subscribers, they'll start earning income from Solavei.

Solavei designed the approach to sell subscriptions virally, saving the company money on traditional marketing.

"We are going to make a difference in people's lives by shifting billions of dollars from traditional mass-media advertising into the greatest advertising vehicle today - people," founder Ryan Wuerch said in a release. "Solavei is the first company to create an economic linkage between mobile service, social commerce and social-networking technology."

Solavei will sell phones - including the HTC One S and HTC Wildfire - or let customers use their own, unlocked GSM phones.

Solavei has more than 140 employees and was valued by investors at $120 million, according to its release. The company is in the process of finalizing its latest round of funding, which will bring the total to $16 million.

Wuerch, the chief executive, earlier started wireless company Motricity. He was terminated from Motricity last August after the stock tumbled and a number of shareholders sued the company.

At Solavei, Weurch has lined up an A-list team, including former executives from T-Mobile, AT&T and Motricity.

Former U.S. Rep. Rick White is the company's "head of legal and policy." Advisors include former FCC chief of stafff, Eddie Lazarus; former T-Mobile chief operating officer, Sue Nokes; Amazon Kindle Vice President Dave Limp; former Coinstar CFO Brian Turner; News Corp. chief digital officer and former AOL CEO, Jon Miller; and John Rittenhouse, a Walmart and Target veteran now chief executive of Cavallino Capital.

Before he resigned in June, T-Mobile Chief Executive Philipp Humm had been working to line up additional mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, to offer services piggybacking on the Bellevue carrier's network.

Reference: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/technologybrierdudleysblog/2018778135_social_wireless_company_launch.html

Author: Brier Dudley

Former Motricity exec to launch MVNO Solavei on T-Mobile's Network

posted Apr 15, 2012, 5:24 AM by Chris Cartmill   [ updated Aug 8, 2012, 2:43 PM ]



Former Motricity CEO Ryan Wuerch is getting back in the wireless game with the upcoming launch of Solavei, a mobile virtual network operator with an unusual business model that will use its customers to tout its $49 per month unlimited voice, text and data plan to their friends and earn extra cash in the process.

The MVNO will operate on T-Mobile USA's GSM network. Customers will pay a $49 startup fee and then $49 per month for service. They can use their existing unlocked GSM smartphones or purchase an unsubsidized device from Solavei, which will range in price from $160 to $500. The first device is the HTC One, but the company will also sell a model from ZTE.

The service is currently in beta mode with about 2,000 users. Another 12,000 people have signed up to join when Solavei officially debuts at the end of September.According to Solavei's Head of Products Jim Ryan, another former Motricity executive and the former vice president of data at AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), the basic value proposition for the company is that consumers are hooked on data, yet data keeps getting more expensive. "We saw this as an opportunity. How can we do this more efficiently than a mobile service provider?"

The conclusion was to eliminate some of the costs by not offering phone subsidies, reducing customer care costs by delivering the experience online, and getting rid of marketing and advertising costs by having the customers sell the service to their friends. "We will create a social commerce network that appreciates people's participation," Ryan said.

That participation from customers is what makes Solavei different from other low-cost MVNOs. Since the company relies on customers to sign up other customers, Ryan said Solavei will pay each customer $20 for each "trio" or three customers that they sign up. Customers will also get paid when the people they sign up then sign up others.

Ryan said that the company plans to target the 70 million or so prepaid subscribers currently in the U.S., but he also sees opportunity in other areas, such as people who are coming off postpaid contracts. In addition, he expects some people will even break their contract with their existing operator once they realize that they can potentially earn back the money they lose from breaking their contract by referring Solavei to their friends.

Solavei is well funded, having just closed on its second round of funding; the company is valued at more than $120 million. It also comes with a high-profile board of advisors including David Limp, vice president of Amazon, John Miller, chief digital officer at News Corp., and Sue Nokes, the former COO of T-Mobile USA.

Wuerch left Motricity in August 2011 just days after Motricity reported second quarter losses of $4.3 million, less than the $11.6 million net loss it reported a year earlier. Reference: http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/former-motricity-exec-launch-mvno-solavei-t-mobiles-network/2012-07-27
Author: Sue Marek

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