Tony Jamous is the CEO and co-founder of Nexmo, a company that hosts a cloud-based SMS API which allows high volume transmission of messages at wholesale prices. Tony spent 12 years in the wholesale messaging industry at mBlox and Paymo, where he opened mobile messaging and payment services in more than 82 markets. He managed carrier relationships and helped aggregators and resellers increase their revenues in the fast-growing A2P market. He graduated from IMD business school, the Institut d’Administration des Entreprises , and the Institut national polytechnique de Grenoble.
Sramana: Tony, let’s start with your personal background. Where do you come from? What kind of circumstances did you have in your early life that lead up to a life as an entrepreneur?
Tony Jamous: I was born in 1980 in Lebanon. I spent 17 years in Beirut, after which I moved to France to study computer science. There was a civil war the entire time I was in Lebanon, so for the first 17 years of my life that is all I really knew. That has taught me a lot about having a survival instinct, which is needed by entrepreneurs. That impacts the way I do business.
I am an entrepreneur in the telecommunications space. At that time land lines did not really exist over there, and there was no mobile phone network. We used military radios to communicate. That created a passion for telecommunications for me. It set me out on my journey in this industry which has grown substantially.
Sramana: When did you study computer science in France?
Tony Jamous: I studied from 1998 to 2003.
Sramana: So you entered the industry after the dot-com bubble.
Tony Jamous: Exactly. When you were doing computer science, you were promised all of these high-paying computer science jobs. By the time I graduated, all of that had collapsed.
Sramana: What did you do after you graduated?
Tony Jamous: The first thing is that I wanted to go into the wireless telecom space. My first job was building mobile applications for PDAs and PalmPilots. I was building customized solutions for companies in France. I did that for a couple of years before being approached by a U.S. company that wanted to establish a presence in France. I was part of their initial team in France working in the SMS space.
Sramana: What year does that bring us up to?
Tony Jamous: I worked as a software engineer from 2003 to 2005. From 2005 to 2008, I was building the SMS business for the U.S. company and managing development in emerging markets.
Sramana: It sounds like that was the time that allowed you to develop a core competency in messaging.
Tony Jamous: Definitely. I was able to do some business development, but most of my time there was spent as a software engineer.