In December 2012, Be-Bound, a new mobile solution allowing smartphones to stay connected to the Internet, regardless of the network or the network quality, was one of the winners of the LeWeb’12 Paris Start-Up Competition. 12 months on, Be-Bound’s CEO, Albert Szulman (centre), explains how attending LeWeb proved to be an invaluable business accelerator.
LeWeb Blog: What exactly is Be-Bound?
Albert Szulman – Be-Bound is the first mobile solution that allows smartphones to stay connected to the internet even when there is limited data connectivity (via 4G, 3G, Wi-Fi or EDGE) or no data connectivity at all (only GSM networks available). In other words, with Be-Bound, you can stay connected almost anywhere, anytime, as Be-Bound works in a hybrid way from 4G to 2G included. All this at a very low cost.
> How did the LeWeb’12 Paris impact Be-Bound?
It changed our lives. After we presented Be-Bound at LeWeb 2012, we closed our initial round of funding, worth $750,000, in just one month instead of the 12 months we had expected. We then went on to raise additional funding that means to date we have $1.5 million in place.
The LeWeb’12 Start-Up Competition Silver Award and the recognition we got both from the media and attendees during the event, put us on the map and provided us with a real development boost. In addition to the post-event financing, we were contacted by US MAC (US Market Access Center), one of the best start-up accelerators in the Bay Area. We took part in their ‘Lean Market Entry’ program, which allows startups to test their business models with potential customers, partners and investors.
Once again this fast-tracked our development. We met over 100 business leaders and investors in the space of just three months and I now spend 70% of my time in the Silicon Valley, where we have developed fantastic traction. As a result, the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which has done so much to develop information technology and hardware systems, invited us to set up in their offices and work together on some key tech developments.
Thanks to LeWeb, we found that lots of people in the Bay Area knew about us. Doors opened up to us faster than we expected and we’re now on the verge of signing important partnerships. Looking back, feedback from and after LeWeb encouraged us to dramatically alter our strategy. Instead of a country-by-country launch approach, we have now adopted a global roll-out. I think this contributed to us winning the Deloitte Technology FAST 50 jury’s award for the ‘Start-Up with the highest international growth potential,’ earlier this month.
> How would you sum up the past 12 months?
Exciting! We’ve moved from being a great idea, to a great product with financing, recognition (in addition to Deloitte, the European Business Group EBG recognized us as one of the 100 most innovative startups in France), a new development strategy, strong interest from partners, improved positioning and a better app.
On October 30, we launched Be-Bound in a free beta version on the Google Play Store and we are extremely happy with our first results as we reached 20,000 downloads in the first two weeks, in more than 100 countries. We already have a conversion rate of more than 50% and we’re adding new customers each day.
In December 2012, we were a French start-up that was relatively unknown. In December 2013 we have offices in France and the United States, we’ve launched Be-Bound internationally and we’re growing our customer base. As I said before, our lives have changed.
Find out more about LeWeb’13 Paris’ upcoming Start-Up Competition here. And don’t forget: start-ups can attend LeWeb for just €800! Register here.