Mobile Monday & Pangea

24 Feb
Hello again! A new month has passed and as I've said in my last post, Mobile Monday happened.

This time, I had the opportunity to hear the startup dream in person. The one where you have an idea, you make a plan and a prototype, try to get funded, succeed and only go up from there. They're called Pangea, a handful of Romanians currently based in Sillicon Valley who did exactly that, with a long way ahead of them, but had the time to tell us their experiences so far.

Their idea is to bring the Internet to the people who don't have access to it. We're talking about third world countries here, where people have a feature phone or even a dumbphone as their main device, with no ability to afford mobile data. If you're thinking: "Why don't they just buy a modem and have unlimited Wi-Fi?", you're a bit off, since they don't even have electricity as a constant stream. Pangea works with devices people already have, with no extra device (read: extra payment), or extra subscription plans for the end-user. More exactly, they work with texts and calls. They are building apps where the data is transfered through a voice call. The exact diagram for this proccess is more complex than that: the person goes into a specific app (let's say a Wikipedia enabled app), writes the article he wants to see, an SMS is sent in the background to their server, the information is proccesed, modified and sent back in the form of a voice call which the app auto-responds, listens to the information sent, reads it and displays the desired webpage in the app.

The product they're building can drasticaly help the third world country, by offering them weather forcasts, grain prices around them and cheap access to information, massively changing the lives of those who use it. Their service has another big advantage: any other app can use it. Meaning Facebook, Whatsapp or Twitter need to just add a few lines of code to work with Pangea. 

Everything they make is around cost effectiveness, meaning everything would be a lot simpler with just text messages, but that would require tens of texts where their workaround requires a 10 second call, reducing the costs drastically.

They talked a lot about their technical problems encountered with Android, fragmentation, how many packages are lost through a call and how are they going to keep the end app under 1.5 MB.

They have a long way ahead of them, but you can already see they're on the right track with their idea. I wish you good luck and I hope to see you in a year to talk about the next challenges your product will encounter.
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