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VIR2SIM is a Latvian startup which aims to disrupt roaming charges by offering subscription-based plans for international calling from a mobile phone. Backed by private European angel investors, this startup’s service allows subscribers to obtain up to 20 local phone numbers for the purpose of avoiding international phone tariffs.
I had a chance to speak with Nick Ustinov, one of the company’s founders, about this mobile startup, a pivot of his earlier venture Pozitel, pitched at TechCrunch Baltics last year. He told me that at this point, the startup raised $500,000 (374,000 euro) in funding from unnamed European angel investors and that this was their first investment. The company’s apps for Android and iOS went live this month and, without advertising, they’ve reached the 1,000 downloads. It’s a small user base, but they’re now beginning to market the company and expect that figure to grow.
The product itself seems to be fairly simple to set up. Users select their desired country and then submit their present phone number. Having completed this step, users can receive a confirmation SMS and they’re good to go. The company offers 0.25 euro as a trial to test the quality of the service, but after that there are various subscription plans ranging from 9,99 euro to 199,99 euro. Fees are based on a per-second basis and follow local rates.
In terms of geographic reach, Ustinov says that there are 19 countries in which the service is available, but that more countries will soon be included. At the moment, the service works for the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Sweden, and Israel, among others, so it’s a pretty broad geographic footprint. The company currently maintains versions of its site in English and Russian, which offers an indication of the markets they’re targeting.
VIR2SIM is the product of Arcana, a Latvian startup launcher. I asked Ustinov about Arcana and he told me that they are a group of IT companies which mostly focus on project development and IT consulting, but are also interested in startup development. VIR2SIM is actually their first project, but I’m told that there will soon be many more to come. Arcana is based in Latvia, but they’re also planning to open international offices in the near future.
At the moment, VIR2SIM offers apps for both Android and iOS.
As far as competition goes, there are a number of companies that offer virtual SIM cards, such as Worldsim, but their prices for calls from Germany to Russia are about 5 times higher than those of VIR2SIM. Of course on some tariffs one can use Skype over 3G which can eliminate international costs altogether but this option does not always work when abroad.
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vita at goaleurope dot com