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Finding a Viable Monetization Model: wefi CEO Zur Feldman (Part 7)

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 8th 2014

Sramana Mitra: It was hard, but you managed to raise the round. Was it based on the fact that you had a strong team that the investors thought you could figure out how to monetize this user base?

Zur Feldman: I think it was a combination. It was a very determined team. It was clear that the problem that we’re solving is a big problem and it’s not going to go away. As time went by, the problem became very evident. It’s not just a prediction that we’re going to have a problem. It’s actually happening. There was a huge problem in different metro areas, specifically in Manhattan. Part of it was that the market started to give signals that it is going to be an issue and it is going to require innovation and thinking out of the box. Also, we managed to really switch the business and look at this from a different point of view. We managed to build strong IT that would allow us to do things, which are now becoming very standard. That was an IT that we early on had the privilege to do because we confronted those types of issues and managed to guarantee that we would have the right IT to protect us. Now it’s part of the standard that the market is using. For us, it’s a very important point.

Sramana Mitra: At this point, is the business model still as what we have discussed so far? You’re monetizing through carriers – licensing fees, per sign up kind of pricing model?

Zur Feldman: The short answer to that is yes. Obviously, we have different versions and angles to that but yes.

Sramana Mitra: Your business is basically standardized on this carrier-based business model?

Zur Feldman: Yes and no. This is a base for a much broader type of customer segment that in the future we will be able to enter. But currently, we work around carriers and cable companies.

Sramana Mitra: How has the business ramped? You changed the business model in about 2008. It took you until 2009 to get this thing rolled out. How has the business ramped in the last four years?

Zur Feldman: From year to year, we’re more than doubling the revenue of the company. It’s very vivid now that the customers we are serving are Tier 1 customers globally. We are in three continents, which is very promising because the indication is that there is a thirst and hunger for this type of solution not only from the US but also from Europe and the Far East. It’s becoming a global company very quickly. Now, we see that from year to year, the growth is phenomenal.

Sramana Mitra: What are some other highlights that you want to share with us in building the business up to this point? Any strategic move that you made that really made a big difference?

Zur Feldman: First and foremost is to believe the vision. The vision sometimes is so big that you might have to find different routes and ways to get there. It’s not necessarily the first or second one that you have in front of you that you think about. The second one is that the market is evolving. You need to be much attuned to the market shifts and to adapt your solution to the market changes.

The third is to find the people who are passionate and compassionate about what you do because you’re going to have difficult times. The thing that separates winning companies from losing companies is not necessarily good or bad technology. It’s the ability to go through tough times, to go through challenges, and to continue to believe. Some of the technologies that we know that didn’t make it are not necessarily worst technologies. Some of them are even better technologies but they did not survive because of the hurdles and difficulties on the way to the market.

The last thing is making sure that people around you enjoy what they do every single day. At the end of the day, you work so hard and work around the clock that sometimes, you spend more time with your people than with your family. You want to make sure that people enjoy what they do even when it’s tough times.

Sramana Mitra: Great. It was a pleasure talking to you.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Finding a Viable Monetization Model: wefi CEO Zur Feldman
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