Photo Gregory KnowroamingToday, we interview Gregory, CEO of KnowRoaming. KnowRoaming participated to the first season of the Innovation Accelerator Program with Alcatel. I had the chance to meet with Gregory during CES, the starting point of our journey.

Could you describe KnowRoaming?

KnowRoaming is a Toronto-based technology company focused on delivering end-to-end solutions for global connectivity. We developed the world’s first Global SIM Sticker in 2013 to help travelers save big on international roaming. This year we took the SIM Sticker a step further and created our Soft SIM Platform, which is a completely software SIM. We also launched our IoT Connect this year for enterprises that require global connectivity.

KnowRoaming operates a full mobile network, with coverage in 200+ countries and roaming rates that are up to 85% lower than carriers. Regardless of device, users can manage their usage in real-time through our management portal.

How did you end up in the Innovation Accelerator program with Alcatel? What did you expect from the program?

KnowRoaming was in a unique situation when entering the accelerator program with Alcatel. We had already launched our first product and were developing our technology to create another innovative product. We had to consider carefully what kind of accelerator would be best for our company at that stage.

Our team met PRIME during the Consumer Electronic Show in 2015. PRIME very interested in our technology and saw a lot of potential for a partnership with Alcatel. Through our relationship with the team at PRIME, we saw this accelerator program was a way to open doors with decision makers at Alcatel.

What value did the Alcatel program provide you with?

The Innovation Accelerator program was a great catalyst in developing a business relationship with Alcatel. We were able to implement our Soft SIM Platform, an entirely virtual SIM card, into Alcatel’s flagship devices. This allows users to automatically switch onto KnowRoaming when they travel so they can stay connected and save on data roaming.

Without the program, we wouldn’t have been able to progress as quickly with Alcatel. The accelerator program was very well managed. They were very flexible with our different time zones (Toronto, Paris, China), and provided great hands-on experience and valuable feedback.

Any advice for entrepreneurs that want to work with large corporations?

Entrepreneurs should definitely join an accelerator program that is affiliated with a large corporation. We’ve learned that participating in accelerators like this one connects you directly with the decision makers in the corporation. Through an accelerator program, you also gain insight and advice on how to navigate the unique processes and structure of the large company you’re working with.

Entrepreneurs working with large corporations can expect some parts to move fast and other parts to move brutally slow, particularly legal. Entrepreneurs should find an internal champion within the larger company and really work to build a meaningful relationship with them.

Be aware that large corporations might push back on a lot of things. Our advice is to find alternative options in that situation and don’t accept everything they ask or give.

How about corporations willing to do open innovation or to work with startups?

To create a successful working relationship, corporations should have an internal team dedicated to managing the startup relationship. For the large corporation to benefit from the relationship, they should be incentivized in some way. Corporations should look to partner with a startup that aligns with their business objectives, or find a way for a startup to solve an internal problem.

What are the next steps for you? (any expansion plan in Europe, do you want to broaden your product offers,…)

At our core we are a global connectivity company. This accelerator allowed us to partner with Alcatel to embed our Soft SIM technology into their flagship phones, which are first rolling out in China. We are continuing to work with Alcatel on a market-by-market basis to roll out the phone while also expanding our technology and working with other mobile operating systems. This accelerator has opened up all kinds of exciting doors for us in the handset space and we are grateful that we had this opportunity to be challenged and to grow.