Startup Stories –

ZooxtThe process of launching your own startup always fascinated me, from an idea that’s nudging at you from the back of your mind, to planning, conception and launching it out into the world. It’s a process that would rival any rollercoaster ride you could ever imagine being on.

In an effort to share startup stories, I’ll be interviewing various entrepreneurs to get a better understanding of what it takes to launch your own business. There has been quite a few of the “we’re currently unsure of our future” replies from those I’ve asked to participate. But for all the others pushing forward towards the tipping point, I hope these Q&A’s will give you the fuel you need to make it happen.

Here’s my 8 question interview with Tzur Sayag Founder of Zooxt;  a unique, visually attractive mobile messaging solution.

  • Please tell me us about Zooxt and how you chose the name?

Zooxt is a major breakthrough in the mobile messaging arena which presents a tremendous business opportunity for mobile operators worldwide. Zooxt is a super sophisticated mobile messaging application that is aimed to significantly increase the Operator’s messaging revenue by enhancing the SMS experience and allowing subscribers to send personalized, colorful and visually attractive messages directly from their handset to any MMS capable device with absolutely ZERO integration to the operator’s network.

The name Zooxt was chosen after a real long debate between founders. It is a nonsense name that resembles the word “GeeZookhst” in Yiddish which means “So you said so…” in an ironic notion. We found the name both visually attractive and memorable, accompanied by our fun logo (a Morse code that spells “something”), created by our talented graphics designer Mr. Kfir Malka, we feel that we have a very hype brand in our hands.

  • Tell us about your team members. Are you planning to grow your in the near future?

Zooxt was founded by Prof. Ephi Zehavi, a well known veteran of the mobile industry who was one of the first employees of Qualcomm and later founded several successful startup companies.  I joined Prof. Zehavi to found Zooxt as the technical person (imagine that..) with many years of designing, developing and selling mobile applications in various platforms, including apps sold via content providers, OEM such as Nokia etc. After about a year of development, roughly 10 months ago we were able to finalize Zooxt to a commercial ready solution. The development was mainly done in house with the assistance of several carefully selected independent consultants. Shortly after that, we started our marketing efforts with one of the largest operators in Europe and were fortunate to be selected as the first application to be launched in TIM’s new innovation portal (NEXT). Winning the Orange Partner Innovation award in dec. 2008 was really the first public recognition of the superiority of our solution over other competitors.
Our near future plans are to expand our marketing and sales departments so that they can support the many contacts that are needed to be handled when attempting to push a mobile app into this very crowded market.
On the technical side, we are looking into a larger graphics design team that can enhance our content collection which is highly specialized mobile font and icons.

  • The web / mobile industry is a very crowded place, how will Zooxt make an impact?

Zooxt is a unique mobile application. Its implementation and philosophy is a two-fold. Firstly it addresses the most interesting, current revenue generating market for operator, the text messaging arena, providing an enhanced experience for the subscriber. Secondly, our implementation is not only elegant but it also addresses the main problems that most of the mobile application have when negotiating with mobile operators:
1. It is a standalone application, thus, the rollout costs and risks for the mobile operators are eliminated.
2. It is device based and no external server are involved, so the delivery of messages has the benefit of robustness due to the usage of the existing well established MMS infrastructure of the operator.
3. It is JavaME based, addressing the device segmentation problem.
4. The business model is license based and not revenue share for messages which significantly simplifies billing integrations and implies a super fast ROI for the operator (the price of a license is covered by only several messages sent by the user)
5. It is super robust, based on existing MMS barrier and thus the post sale support is almost non existing.
Addressing the above can be found in almost no other revenue generating application and the outcome of these features is well seen in the many operators that are currently engaging in negotiations with Zooxt.

  • Is Zooxed self financed?

Yes. Zooxt is currently self financed and while we seek investment in order to further develop our marketing and sales, and to support more handsets. Our goal was to stay privately owned until we have a fully commercial level product and we are proud to say that we were able to finish the first version of the product without public funding

  • How do you plan on monetizing?

Our business model is diverse but the main goals are embedded distribution through operators. We are also negotiating other sale channels such as App shops, OEM and content portals.

  • What tip would you give every entrepreneur out there?

Be patient, very patient with operators. They work slowly. Make sure your product makes sense. Keep the product simple and user friendly. Make sure you can put it on as many devices as possible. Have the right team.

  • What’s the best and worst thing about starting your own business?

1. Building something from the grounds up is a fun process, the mistakes on the way and the learning curve are the best part.
2. Getting great customer feedback is mind-blowing and most enjoyable.
3. The opportunity to understand the market from the grounds up and the need to always be on top of things.
I don’t know about that. I love starting my own business, it is not my first one and each was great fun.

  • What challenges do you see for your growth?

The main challenges we are facing today are mainly on the marketing and sales side of the business. We are finding that although our solution is ready to be launched there are always things to improve. The mobile world is always going forward, new devices, features and interaction models are created on daily basis and we have to keep Zooxt as a cutting edge app, for this, we see the following immediate challenges:
1. More platforms such as iPhone, Android and many more JavaMe based handsets.
2. Selecting which features to remove from our client so that it becomes even more user friendly.

On the marketing and sales side, we are challenged by the amount of possibilities that are out there and the new channels that are becoming available in 2009. Zooxt has to remain focused on its initial target: to provide subscribers with a cool, fun and substantially superior text messaging experience and operators with another way to generate revenue from existing infrastructure with very low costs and absolutely no risk.

Good luck to Zooxt, wishes them nothing but luck! And when they do make it, remember you read it here first!

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Categories: Startups

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