Yatango enters the telco sector to disrupt the status quo
Yatango Mobile is a new entrant in the Australian telecoms market with big ambitions to disrupt the status quo. Founded by CEO Andy Taylor, the tech startup aims to empower consumers to enjoy true customization, make informed choices and to demand change and re-gain control over their consumption. Taylor is all for cutting out the middleman and shaking up the traditional, and in his opinion, stale telco sector.
Business Review Australia caught up with Taylor to probe him about his new company and to find out how he aims to achieve his goals.
BRAUS: So, where did the idea for Yatango come from? What inspired you to start the brand?
AT: Yatango materialized out of a passion of mine. I recognised some of the challenges faced by the telecommunications industry when running my own digital marketing firm so started thinking about ways to disrupt it by empowering consumers to get a better deal. The idea for Yatango just screamed at me because the problems in the industry are so bad. As a team we found that people hate their telecoms more than they disliked their banks; bill shock was rife and people had no idea about how much they were using. Consumers were receiving these big bills and we thought, ‘There has to be a better way’.
Building a brand that stands for something drives me. Yatango is about building a platform that really empowers consumers to manage, control and get a better deal though transparency and greater levels of one-to-one personalization. We achieve better pricing through an improved operating model.
BRAUS: How does Yatango work?
AT:I consider Yatango to be a business that enables people to self-serve. The brand is driven by our social engine - we are very similar to Spotify in terms of how we are plugged into social channels and we really empower the community to bring each other onboard and reward them for doing so.
We also keep costs to a minimum by automating everything through our system. For example we don’t run a conventional call center, instead we really try to empower the community to help each other, which significantly reduces our cost while building a powerful online community. We are running a fully-fledged telco business off a very small operating overhead, which means we can pass those savings back to consumers.
The way it works is we literally plug into local carrier networks by establishing relationships. As an example, we work with Optus in Australia; simply put we use their network towers and they send us individual usage data, which we input into our own billing system.
BRAUS: What makes Yatango unique?
AT: The concept is really all about unraveling the accepted industry standards. For example the capped plan model that telco companies have worked with since the beginning. We want to get people to pay only for what they need; we want to educate our customers about their actual usage and build a plan around that.
We have introduced a free calling incentive to emphasize the importance of building a community. As our customers introduce their friends and family to the network we will give them the ability to connect for free - that was really our leaver to give back. Similarly, the points system was aimed at building a healthy community that services itself. If you help a fellow user, you earn points that translate into free calls and text messages.
Finally, we are a single SaaS platform that gets people to pay for what they need; we are not a telco, we view ourselves as a technology company, and we minimise wastage if not eliminate it by getting people to pay only for what they use. We have no contracts, we have very competitive pricing, we have a community and we give value for money rather than just being cheap, we empower people by giving them the tools and the analytics to monitor and manage their usage in real time, something international telcos are unable to do, we come at everything from a pure empowerment point of view.
BRAUS: How can Yatango help businesses cut costs?
AT: The next generation will allow people to set up what we call social groups or group structures within the software. For example you could set up family groups or business groups and effectively we provide you with a master-billing agent. We can optimize your usage on a group level so you are not paying for services you don’t utelise. When you actually dissect the telecommunications market from a business point of view there is massive wastage and the bills are high. We are already saving people about 50 percent on a consumer level and we think we can do better in a business sense.
BRAUS: Talk about your growth strategies at the business.
AT:There are 12 of us at the moment and we are very agile. The team is predominantly made up of engineers - its about making the software do the work and that is what we are mainly focusing on moving forward.
We are looking to scale this platform into international markets next year; we have signed a carrier agreement in the US and the UK so that is our next focus. Our aim is to really try and start disrupting international roaming by building a global community. Australia was our proof of concept market and aside from scaling up in the telco space we really feel that our software, our CRM engine with very clever analytical insights can actually be retrofitted into other verticals. If we can structurally disrupt verticals by revolutionizing the customer experience and partnering with infrastructure providers with an over the top application, we can do some exciting things other core verticals that are again desperate for disruption, banking being one of them. We have some pretty big ambitions.
BRAUS: Where would you like to see the business in five years time?
AT: Our three to five year goal is to become an international consumer brand; we want to be ‘up there’ with the best. We don’t have short-term aspirations to build the company and sell it as quickly as we can; we are focused on building a business and innovation rather than short-term profitability.
Beyond Limits: Cognitive AI in APAC
Courtesy of current estimates, it looks like Asia-Pacific AI will be worth US$136bn by 2025. Its governments and corporations invest more money than the rest of the world in AI tech, the data of its citizens is considered fair game, and its pilots are small-scale and, as a result, ruthlessly effective. This is why, according to Jeff Olson, Cognizant’s Associate Vice President for Projects, AI and Analytics, Digital Business and Technology, the APAC region ‘is right on the edge of an AI explosion’.
Now, startup Beyond Limits is pushing the boundaries of what AI can do, mirroring humans in its ability to find solutions with even limited information. As of this July, it’s partnered up with Mitsui, a global trading and investment company, to expand its impact in APAC.
How Does Beyond Limits Work?
Most AI companies claim that they can help businesses make better decisions. But many need astoundingly large stores of data to feed their information-hungry algorithms. Beyond Limits, in contrast, takes a different tack. Perfect data, after all, is largely a pipe dream kept alive by PhD students. In reality, systems must often make decisions from small, incomplete sets of intel.
But Beyond Limits’ AI is no black box. ‘When little to no data is available, Beyond Limits symbolic technologies rely on deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning capabilities’, explained Clare Walker, Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. While making these leaps in logic, however, the system also keeps track, ensuring that humans can review the AI’s ‘thought process’.
Why Partner With Mitsui?
Beyond Limits is built for specific applications such as energy, utilities, and healthcare—but lacks the extensive industry network of Mitsui. Partnering allows Beyond Limits to access a portfolio of firms specialising in minerals and metals, energy, infrastructure, and chemicals. ‘We’ve been working on this deal for several years’, said Mitsui’s Deputy General Manager Hiroki Tanabe. ‘Mitsui’s global portfolio and Beyond Limits’ AI technology will...deliver impact’.
In the first test of that dramatic statement, Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will soon deploy Beyond Limits’ new system. If everything goes according to plan, LNG will optimise how it extracts and refines energy, making money for both itself and investors—including Mitsui. This, in fact, is Mitsui’s strategy: go digital and don’t look back.
Why Does This Matter?
Forty-five percent of Asia-Pacific companies surveyed in Cognizant’s thought leadership ebook consider themselves AI leaders. Positivity bias, that oh-so-common tendency of humans to position themselves as above average as compared to others, strikes again. (Most small companies fail to launch successful AI projects on their own.) And partly, this is because firms fail to integrate AI with industry expertise.
‘A large part of the focus on talent for AI today has been getting the people who are strong in mathematics, AI, and technologies’, said Olson. ‘But where you make your money out of AI projects is when you apply them to your business’. In short: APAC nations looking for ways to bridge the gap might follow Beyond Limits and Mitsui’s playbook—coupling startup AI with a corporate network.