The case of SonimTech – And lessons we can learn

( Some parts of this post may not be totally accurate, I got the info from google and a senior Sonim employee)

” Sonim Technologies (www.sonimtech.com) was founded somewhere between 1999-2000, with a vision to provide Push-to-Talk (PTT) platform over VOIP over major phones. The market was large enterprise sales force which can use PTT to call any colleague. The fund size raised was about $80M. “

The company hired the best talent in VOIP and mobile platform. It spent almost 3 year, building a state-of-the-art VOIP platform. The main challenge was low bandwidth and computation power available to mobiles (back then). They finally launched an almost perfect PTT solution in 2003-2004.

Almost same time or an year later, other phone vendors like Nokia and Skype came up with alternate technologies to achieve the same :(

Sonim tried the best to sell this stuff to enterprises and changed the CEO twice … no luck. They started selling handhelds bundled with their PTT stack … no luck.

Finally they got a break with a large healthcare firm in 2005-06 and started selling two-way VOIP communication stack in PTT solution (skype and Nokia are one-way on mobiles). They made some decent money (between 2-5M).

Then the Sonim product management started asking the customers some “must have” features and got one more prominent reply – ruggedness.

In the next handset, they rubber padded the entire circuit and body … and to their shock and serprise the phone started selling only because of its ruggedness !!!  Now they have exhausted almost 80M, dumped PTT stack (as primary feature), rebranded the website …  and selling just – Rugged Mobiles :)

Moral of Story -

  1. Test the market well, before you start …
  2. Build dirty build fast
  3. Ask your customers …. and be open for change
  4. Be persistent and patient

6 Responses to “The case of SonimTech – And lessons we can learn”

  1. Jaspreet says:

    Bob,

    I wrote this article after taking to your team in Bangalore.

    Your story has been truly inspiring. I would like to catch up with you, leave your email here or send me a small note at jaspreet _at_ _no_spam_ druvaa.com

    Thanks,

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