Pre-paid wireless provider Solavei only launched six weeks ago and today they announced they have 65,000 members enrolled. Solavei operates as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) on T-Mobile and they provide an optional program that rewards users for sharing the service with friends. To date, Solavei says they have paid out over $1 million in commissions since it launched.
I was invited into the Solavei beta before it launched and I joined to see what all the fuss was about. Their social commerce platform sounded like a brilliant idea, but some people thought it was too good to be true and called it a scam. Our research showed that the company was legit and backed by an experienced leadership team, but Ryan Wuerch, the CEO and founder, is surrounded by controversy from his last company Motricity.
Ryan Wuerch founded Motricity in 2001 and worked there for 10 years. The company went public at $10 a share in 2010 and its share price climbed to $30. Then the share price tanked and Weurch was terminated. A group of shareholders filed a lawsuit against Motricity and eight other companies, but Motricity’s lawyers responded “the Complaint’s defects are numerous and its merits nonexistent.’”
Once you get past Wuerch’s past, Solavei becomes a really interesting story. Sue Nokes, SVP of Asurion and former COO of T-Mobile, said “I see Solavei as this generation’s next Walmart.” That sounds like a crazy claim, but Solavei offers a unique plan that encourages members to share the service and enroll new customers.
I have been monitoring Solavei’s growth, and it has accelerated since the service launched on September 21st. Last month the company started a new promotion that offered a free month of service, and they extended it this month when the new enrollments picked up.
“We have seen a tremendous response since our nationwide launch with new members enrolling all across the United States, including Puerto Rico,” said Ryan Wuerch, founder and CEO of Solavei. “Growing 100 percent monthly and paying more than $1 million in commissions in such a short timeframe shows the breadth and scalability of Solavei.”
If Solavei maintains their growth rate, they would hit one million members next year. Part of me believes it will be a tough road, but all the growth in the US wireless market is coming from pre-paid plans and not post-paid plans. As more unlocked devices become available, like the Nexus 4, we expect a lot more people to leave the contracts and enroll in pre-paid wireless services.
The story of Solavei is far from over, so we will continue to follow them and see how they do. This could turn into a revolution for pre-paid wireless services in the US, or it could turn into a huge disaster like previous MVNOs. So far things are going as planned, but no one knows where this will end up.
Does this look like the CEO of “this generation’s Walmart?”
Full disclosure: I am a Solavei member, but I’m not going to share my referral link unless someone asks me for it. There are plenty of other members that have enrolled and I’m sure they would be happy to answer your questions if you are interested in joining.