“I saw an opportunity to bring media and interactive content to Latin America’s mobile users.”
- Year selected
For those without smartphones – 95% of mobile users in Latin America – life just got a whole lot juicier thanks to Naranya. Founded in 2002 by Arturo Galván , Naranya develops mobile content ranging from a SMS horoscope service to a social network app integrated with Facebook–all of which are compatible with non-smart phones. Before Naranya, non-smartphone owners were left to envy the mobile games, restaurant reviews, and app stores available to smartphone users. From 2002 to 2008 Naranya developed basic mobile content for companies for a one- time development fee. In 2008, Naranya transitioned to a B2C model and started selling a wider range of mobile games, videos, apps, and more directly to feature and basic phone users; today over two million mobile users on fourteen carriers in seven countries subscribe to Naranya’s content. Naranya is now focusing on going public as the first Mexican tech company on the NASDAQ.
Arturo is an experienced media and technology guru. He graduated from Tec de Monterrey with a degree in Information Technology. At age 21 he joined Latin America’s largest printed media company, Grupo Reforma, where he served as CTO & VP of Business Development for 16 years. In 1988, he oversaw the development of Infosel, a first generation internet portal and the first of its kind in the Spanish-speaking world. Under his leadership Infosel launched Infosel Financiero, a real time financial information service, and infosel.com, an internet portal similar to Yahoo. For these successes, the Wall Street Journal named him “Apostle of the Internet” for the region, and he was twice awarded the Microsoft Award for Excellence by Bill Gates. In 1999, the Spanish phone operator Telefonica de España acquired Infosel as part of its online network, Terra Networks. Arturo was named President of Terra Mexico and represented Terra in its IPO that year.
After three years as President of Terra Mexico, Arturo saw an opportunity to create value through the convergence of emerging mobile technology, entertainment, and marketing. He approached two colleagues and in November 2002 they founded Naranya. With US$5 million pooled together between themselves and angel investors, the trio developed an SMS-based messaging and content platform. Reality show producers, including the producers of Big Brother, licensed Naranya’s platform for polling audiences during their shows. Soon, media and entertainment brands–ranging from the largest mass media company in Mexico, Televisa, to football clubs Real Madrid and Monterrey–were hiring Naranya to create mobile games, images, etc. for a one-time development fee. By 2008 Naranya had hundreds of thousands of mobile transactions (e.g. downloads, votes) per month and strong relationships with media and mobile service providers, all under a B2B business model. Looking for ways to accelerate growth, and confident in his team and technology, Arturo transitioned Naranya to a B2C model and started selling directly to mobile phone users.
With its transition to a B2C model Naranya became the regional powerhouse it is today. Most of Naranya’s former clients continued to publish their mobile content through Naranya for a licensing fee and Naranya hired developers to create additional content in- house. By the beginning of 2009 Naranya launched a series of subscription based services under its “Naranya Entertainment” division: an App Store for feature phones with text-based and multimedia content; a series of interactive games for feature phones; and an SMS content delivery service for basic phones. From 2009 to 2010 Naranya’s active subscribers doubled to 1.4 million and revenue grew 156%. Key to the rapid adoption of these products was Naranya’s in-house platform for deducting subscription fees from customers’ mobile accounts (“M-pay”). Developed in conjunction with mobile network operators (MNOs), who distribute Naranya’s products in exchange for 60% of revenue, and compatible with both pre- and post-paid plans, M-pay is at the heart of Naranya’s monetization strategy. Arturo also began to focus on expanding outside of Mexico, delivering Naranya’s services to the rest of Latin America.
Naranya is well-positioned to capitalize on Latin America’s rapidly growing mobile market over the next three years. In late 2011, Naranya launched an application to deliver real-time, location-based information, commerce and social media services to feature phone users (“Yapp”). Naranya predicts that the addressable market for this type of “second generation” application is 4-8x that of its other applications. In parallel, the company signed up top businesses—including Televisa, the region’s largest media company, and Banamex, Mexico’s second largest bank—for its soon to launch mobile marketing and customized application development services. Arturo expects active subscribers to grow ~72% annually to surpass 12 million in 2014. In a region with 100% mobile penetration but only 30% PC penetration, Arturo believes that the mobile phone will still be Latin America’s foremost domestic portal to the Internet for the next few years to come.
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