There’s no equivocation about Bango’s business model as the mobile billing and analytics business metaphorically bestrides the Atlantic.Martin Harris, the company’s vastly experienced SVP Strategic Accounts, has two distinct business cards – one for the UK and one for the States. Address-wise it’s strictly no contest since Bango ventured forth from Cambridge and set up home from home in New York: 20 West 22nd Street to be precise. That’s some card to play.
Bango is thriving on its Big Apple diet, rubbing shoulders with existing and potential customers with big bucks and even bigger ambitions. And the location hasn’t stopped the Cambridge company operating effectively from Coast to Coast.
Potentially, two of its biggest clients will turn out to be Amazon – headquartered in Seattle – and Facebook, anchored in Menlo Park, California. Rain or shine the climate looks healthy with that kind of blue chip customer base.
Harris told the recent Transatlantic Business Forum in Cambridge that in its first year of operation in the US, five per cent of Bango’s worldwide revenue came from the States. Now 78 per cent of its revenue is from North America and the New York team is “thriving” in Harris’ words. More to the point, he said that Bango was highly respected in the US wireless industry.
Ever the realist, Harris said there was no easy ride for any UK company endeavouring to set up and succeed in the US. It takes a considerable amount of time and resources to gain a foothold, cultural differences had to be negotiated and employees tasked with establishing the business should brace themselves for a significant amount of travel. “Your mileage may vary – as they say in America,” he told the Forum.
Harris said it was important for Brits working in the US to enjoy and embrace the culture: Bango encouraged all UK employees to spend time in the US and vice versa. Bango ran a US cultural workshop for all their staff involved.
Harris added that embarking on the US adventure in 2005 was no shot in the dark. “We planned carefully, we researched and prepared – and we networked. We talked to industry peers and to as many customers and prospects as possible. We were prepared to do some pioneering.”
The year before Bango opened its US office, America was already a massive mobile market with 169 million subscribers and tipped to grow rapidly – now the market stands at 322m.
Bango had an edge: It had largely the right technology for a country whose mobile solutions were not as advanced as those in Europe. It’s an edge the business has retained. The Cambridge company recently witnessed a degree of profit-taking as investors sought to cash in on a high point in Bango’s continuing development. It is too early to predict the potential revenue harvest from the relationships forged with with Facebook and Amazon. But only a fool would bet against a substantial premium.