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Amaysim: awarded tech team shaking up a “stale, uncompetitive mobile market”

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For four European entrepreneurs, an invite to Australia experiencing the best of Sydney and its hospitality had them thinking – “where do we sign?” But it was Australia’s inhospitable and stale mobile market that saw them put pen to paper and set up shop ‘down under.’ Dynamic Business speaks to Christian Magel, a founder of one of Europe’s most successful mobile operators, Simyo, who has since changed the landscape of the Australian mobile market with Amaysim.

Although Christian, Andreas Perreiter, Rolf Hansen and Thomas Enge sold Simyo in 2005, they were far from ready to hang up their entrepreneurial hats. What they didn’t know, is that they were also far from where they needed to be. That was until Rolf met Australian telco expert, Peter O’Connell.

Christian said “Pete had followed Simyo closely and knew in his bones that the stale, uncompetitive Aussie mobile market was ripe for disruption.”

Following a visit to Sydney and having carried out a feasibility study in the Australian market, they had full confidence in Peter’s judgment.

“Australian mobile rates were crazy, flagfall and contracts were the norm and customer satisfaction seemed to be a foreign concept in the industry. With that in mind, we mapped out our business model, went into a round of capital raising and in November 2010 opened the Amaysim doors,” said Christian.

Six months after their launch in 2010, the Australian mobile market, once idle with confusion, started to stir.

Christian said “once we introduced a plan with a fixed headline price for unlimited talk and text and a decent amount of data, a national light bulb switched on and people started to switch.”

Unlike other mobile service providers, Christian describes Amaysim as a lean, digitally driven operation. Powered by the Optus network, they don’t have stores to manage or a network to invest in themselves but instead have a formidable online presence with state of the art app technology and cloud based IT solutions. “This means we help more customers more quickly, satisfaction rates are high and cost to serve is low,” said Christian. “It also means we’re able to respond to incidents quickly and with minimal disruption to customer-facing activity.”

Feeding an appetite for inexpensive and transparent offers is one reason why Christian believes Amaysim has performed so well in Australia – and perhaps it’s the most obvious one. But it’s also about attitude he says.

“Australians like a good alternative player, who challenge the big incumbents.

“We’re an online-led technology disruptor like Uber or Spotify, balanced with a retail distribution footprint that gives us reach, scale and awareness,” said Christian.

Having accelerated to success through a door wide open in the market, Amaysim recently floated on the ASX and it is now valued at a market cap of $400m.

“Being part of a team that founded a start-up and led it all the way to ringing the bell in less than five years is a lifetime achievement,” said Christian.

“For the Amaysim team, it’s the great result of years of hard work that we’re all hugely proud of.”

And going from strength to strength, Amaysim recently picked up the 2015 NSW Tech Entrepreneur of the Year Award, presented at the NSW Parliament by the Hon Victor Dominello, NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation.

Reflecting on the Amaysim experience, travelling at super speed from start-up to established player, Christian said it’s all in the art of reinvention – “reinventing to stay at the front of the pack.”

“The main challenge is remaining fresh and entrepreneurial through growth and constantly reinventing… The minute you stop focusing on this, you lose your spark.”

With no intention to give up their spot as a leading innovator, Amaysim are out there sharing their mantra with other entrepreneurs who thrive on swimming upstream. As foundation supporters of the DigiCit initiative that aims to bring together the entrepreneurial community in Sydney, Christian said “our aim is to help develop a top notch start-up eco system in Australia.”

So perhaps the telecommunications landscape they entered was stale and inhospitable, but this team has certainly proved that the Australian innovation and entrepreneurship landscape is very much alive and well with hospitality aplenty.