Flexiroam unshackles business travelers from Skype; allows unlimited overseas calls
December 31, 2011 by Terence LEE
Skype is nice, but you’re screwed if don’t have access to a wifi network and don’t want to pay hefty roaming charges. That’s a predicament many business travelers face when they’re out and about — say, heading to a site visit in India or a networking event in Vietnam.
Sure, the world is getting increasingly wired and a wifi Internet connection is becoming as common and taken-for-granted as water, but such luxuries aren’t always readily available in most countries.
Even in shiny, high-tech Singapore, there are spots in town where the free wifi connection is wonky, or inaccessible because it needs a password.
So, how does a driven, power suit wearing entrepreneur ensure that she closes that sale or troubleshoot an urgent, looming crisis that threatens her business?
Flexiroam offers a possible answer. Founded by Jef Ong in 1st April 2011, Flexiroam is a Malaysia-based company that offers travelers unlimited calls at over 200 countries for a flat rate. So, if I’m a Singaporean on a business trip in Jakarta, I can make calls to Singapore and receive incoming calls — both unlimited — at S$10 (US$7.70) a day, saving me from extravagant roaming charges.
To use Flexiroam, I’ll need to purchase an overseas SIM. I’ll then be given instructions on how to connect my number with the Flexiroam gateway. After I switch to the overseas SIM upon arrival at my destination country, I’ll need to send a text to tell Flexiroam to direct all calls to my mobile phone.
Such a scheme has the added convenience of allowing you to retain your existing phone number while overseas.
While the service was initially available only to Malaysians, it has since launched in Singapore the past November, with plans to establish a physical presence at Changi Airport soon. According to Nicholas Yeap, Flexiroam’s marketing chief, they expanded to Singapore because “on average every Singaporean travel out of their country at least twice a year — four times more than an average Malaysian.”
India will be their next stop. Already, they have two offices there — one in Delhi, the other at Indore. “They have the largest airport in the world and are growing more than ten percent yearly in terms of international outbound passengers. We foresee that more Indians will be traveling out of their country for work or holiday.”
So far, reception towards Flexiroam has been promising. Jef Ong, the founder, has received much press coverage and recently auditioned for DEMO Asia. He told Malaysia Entrepreneurs in November that the company has saved businesses over 700,000 Malaysian Ringgit (S$290,000) and served over 2,000 customers.
Nicholas told SGE that 400 corporate customers have used Flexiroam at least twice in eight months. They’re partnering with 500 travel agencies to bundle Flexiroam with their travel packages from February 2012. An agreement has also been signed with Malaysian Airlines to offer special packages to their 20,000 staff. Altogether, they’re registering a 30 percent month-on-month growth in terms of sales and subscribers.
In Jan 2012, they will be launched Flexiroam Infinity SIM, which is a SIM card bundled with a Flexiroam pass. This product caters to power users who don’t want to waste time buying a local SIM and would rather have a card that works in 121 countries, including South Korea and Japan. A data plan for travelers to Europe can be included.
Jef has been bootstrapping his business all the way, and they have sufficient resources to roll out their operations in Malaysia and Singapore for the next twelve months. Nonetheless, they are already talking to several venture capitalists to go regional, although nothing is concrete yet.
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE