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November 16, 2015

Communicating Internationally Just Got a Whole Lot Easier Thanks to This Boston Startup

Founded earlier this year, Boston-based startup, flyp, a mobile app that gives you multiple numbers on your smartphone, has burst on to the telecommunications scene in a matter of months. No surprise really, seeing they’re led by industry veteran, Peter Rinfret, who previously sold ChaseTel to Qualcomm, which became Cricket, then co-founded and was CEO of Iris Wireless. 

flyp launched in the U.S. in spring 2015 enabling domestic users to streamline their social, professional, and private mobile lives by allowing multiple numbers to be added to one smartphone. Last week, the startup launched free international long-distance mobile calling and texting service between USA and Europe.

“The telecommunications industry is long overdue for disruption,” Rinfret told me inside the startup’s Back Bay office. Adding, “Anything that has to do with communications, we want to make quicker and easier.”

               flyp Boston. Peter Rinfret. David Shack

When I was first introduced to flyp several months ago, I thought, “Why would I need more than one number?” In reality, I quickly realized many people are still carrying around 2 or 3 phones. Still, I wasn’t convinced the market for such an offering was all that sizeable… Until I sat with Rinfret, who shared with me some of the company’s research.

The numbers, along with Rinfret’s passion and expertise, are staggering. The untapped market, both domestically and internationally, has investors looking to get in on the company’s Series A round of funding (no disclosure on timing or details of funding).

According to company research, there are 355 million mobile devices in the U.S. with an average of 1.57 devices per user. Globally, you’re looking at more than 7 billion devices with an average of 1.87 per user. As flyp breaks it down, there are 110 million people in the U.S with multiple mobile devices and nearly 2.6 billion around the world.

These stats don’t include the many individuals who would benefit from an extra number, but aren’t looking to carry around an additional device. Think of reporters, or freelancers from a business standpoint or the millions of people on dishing out their cell phone number in the dating world.

At $2.99 / month per number, flyp has huge revenue opportunities in front of them. However, they are currently offering (for a limited time) the first number for free. Eventually, to add a new phone number to your device through flyp it will be just $2.99 – and Rinfret admits that number will likely come down.

“Mobile hasn’t changed in 20 years. Sure there’s been hardware improvements, but software-wise, it’s been very minute.  People want a richer mobile experience and we’re bringing that to them from a communications standpoint.”

The company is able to provide the offering at such a low cost due to its proprietary technology and processes. Using the flyp platform, an end-to-end solution that connects to innovative deployments in the telecommunications environment all communications become local calls, which are covered by the user’s current service plan. flyp numbers can make calls to and receive calls from any U.S. landline or mobile number. Additionally, flyp works over cellular channels so it does not incur data charges.
     flyp app 

With their international launch flyp countries now include the United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as the USA. Canada will be introduced this week, with an additional 20 countries available for flyp calling before the end of 2015. The expansion pace is rapid.

“We want to finish the job that Skype started and never completed in terms of shaking up how to leverage technology to easily, affordably, and reliably communicate on a global scale.”

Flyp, which is free to download and is available for Android and iOS, allows users to choose their desired area code and comes with several other streamlined features, such as a the ability to push a specific voice message to an incoming call.

We’ve recently hit on several Boston-based startups and tech companies that have begun expanding internationally. Flyp is just the latest to make the move, but, with the available market, also has the opportunity to take over the likes of WhatsApp and Viber.

Another Boston consumer tech success story? Time will tell, but the writing has begun… 

Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz.  You can follow him on Twitter @jb_sid
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