Candl Monthly Update – August 4th, 2017

 

Choose and immediately use a cellular plan from your phone.


Asks For Help

Patent help – We’re looking for some help in organizing our IP portfolio and filing provisional patents. Our goal is to submit the filings by the end of this month, and we have a good idea of what we want to file, but we’re looking for someone with great patent experience to spend 3-4 days in a conference room with us here in Atlanta to roll up sleeves and organize everything.

Due Diligence Preferences – We wanted to give the VC community an opportunity to weigh in on how you would like to receive our due diligence materials later this fall. I’m looking for feedback around how much background research to share (we have a LOT), what format (Dropbox folder? Slack? Google Wiki?), and what the most important things you can see from CANDL would be. Drop me an email with your thoughts!

Successes

1. CANDL’s first “Hackathon”
We had several major deliverables stacking up side-by-side, and we decided to press the accelerator and bring all of them to a close at the same time last week. We spent 4 days at Galvanize in Boulder side-by-side, building out the demo app, the go-to-market plan, and the financial model. It was a huge success! We asked several investors to join us for our results presentation, which motivated us to deliver spectacular results. It was a little bit like being in Techstars again!

2. We have a prototype!
Instead of just talking people through what we’re building, now we can show them. The native Android app will be ready next week, but you can see the wireframe online here.

3. The SIM Card is officially an endangered species.
We’ve been tracking several news articles and recent trends just in the past few weeks around the SIM industry. Gemalto, the biggest supplier of SIM cards, just rolled out their virtual SIM solution with some major partners. This is great news for us – carriers know the SIM is going away, and they’ll be looking for ways to optimize their revenue and retention. CANDL helps with both of those.

Challenges

1. Engineering talent
We’ve struggled to find qualified Linux/Android kernel engineers to join the team. We have a few leads we’re following up on, but getting someone to live inside the kernel with David has been frustratingly difficult.

2. Remote teams have unique challenges
We didn’t really intend for CANDL to be a remote company, but I’ve always wanted to hire the best possible talent regardless of where they live. Our team has adapted extremely well to the specific challenges being a remote team has.
Currently we have employees and contractors in Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boulder. We come together pretty often and follow a rigorous daily cadence online, but after spending time with everyone in Boulder last week it reminded all of us how much we like each other and how great it would be to have this team together in one place all the time.
At some point we’ll need to create a nexus around one (or two) location(s), but for now we’re being pretty efficient working remotely. Instead of a water cooler, we have Slack.


 

Monthly Highlights

CANDL Hackathon 2017

 

OK so it wasn’t a true hackathon. It was more of an internal “super-sprint”. We needed to get the prototype app, the go-to-market plan, and the financial model all done in a short amount of time. So we used the hackathon model to inject a little competition into our efforts.

 

 

We brought the entire team together in Boulder last week. We stayed at an awesome farmhouse Airbnb and worked 12 hours a day for 3 days in a row, not counting all of the prep work we did the week before. We were fortunate enough to be able to take over the Techstars space in Galvanize Boulder, and booked 22 conference room meetings across 4 days. We went through at least 4 dry-erase markers too.

 

 

We did manage to have some fun too. Turns out everyone LOVES Werewolf 🙂

 

 

At the end of the hackathon we shared our results with each other as well as a few investors from around Denver/Boulder. Rich Grote, Reilly Flynn, and Brad Greenwald joined us for our results presentation, which turned into a really awesome strategic discussion.

We came away with several new ideas we’re currently exploring that came from the interaction with the investors. For example, what if we let users try the data plan they are exploring for a few minutes, just to get a feel for the speeds and reliability of the network?

At the end we were all exhausted but VERY satisfied with our results. We’re all looking forward to the next time we can get together. Next time we may just rent a cabin with 8 bedrooms and stay in one place the whole time!

New Team Members 
This month we added a few new members to our team. Michael Forbis has come in to help out part-time on user experience and interface design. Brian McDonald joins us as a software developer working with David primarily on middleware, integration, and APIs. And Mike Nichols, a Techstars Boulder 2012 alum, has joined us to help with operations, process, and customer support. Mike will take the lead on legal and operational tasks, most importantly the IP portfolio and project management. As we go to market, Mike will be tasked with building our customer support and operational integration teams.

David and I have both worked with Mike Nichols and Michael Forbis in the past and we were able to spend quite a bit of time with Brian in Boulder last week getting to know him. We’re super-excited to have them onboard!


 

Closing Thought: Killing the SIM Card. It’s happening. 

 

Burying that annoying, miserable piece of plastic forever. 

When we first thought through the idea of the carrier store business model, we heard a lot of feedback that we’d never convince the telecom industry to abandon the SIM card. We have been told that our carrier store would be seen as a threat to the industry and we would be shunned by most carriers.

But we’ve walked this path before. In 2009, David and I came up with the idea to use smartphones in the military. We were laughed out of conference rooms for about two years. And then, all of a sudden, we weren’t being laughed at – we were being asked for advice, asked for demos, winning contracts, and ultimately copied by the very companies who laughed at us.

I feel the same kind of trend here too. And now the evidence that our carrier store idea will take off like wildfire is starting to mount:

  • Gemalto – the world’s largest SIM card manufacturer, just announced they were the first to get GSMA eSIM accreditation. They now fully embrace the virtual SIM solution.
  • Announcements just this month by Telefonica, NTT, and China Mobile let the world know they are building eSIM services for consumer devices including smartphones.
  • SIM Card shipments have slowed dramatically, and are expected to top out in 2020, yet the number of connected devices continues to grow. The gap is being filled by eSIM solutions.
  • Research shows the number of eSIM-enabled smartphones will top 1 Billion by 2021.

These eSIM solutions are fantastic IF AND ONLY IF there exists a marketplace through which consumers can switch carriers. That’s our vision, and that’s what we’re building.

Remember. There is no carrier store today. A year from now, that won’t be true. Ours may be the first, but it won’t be the last. Microsoft, Amazon, and the carriers themselves, and probably the hardware manufacturers like Samsung and Apple will all have their own carrier stores at some point.

The race is on and we definitely want to be first to market. We also want to build out our middleware platform that solidifies our place in the newly-formed market category we’re helping to create.

Just because they’re bigger doesn’t mean they’re better. And if we build out our platform the right way, they’ll need US to make it all work seamlessly.

Cheers,
-tom