With $118.2 million in total revenue in 2014. and with its revenue growth set at 100,849 percent, Ultra.Me has been named Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Private Company in America for 2015. – topping the prestigious annual Inc. 5000 list! All thanks to its team headed by veteran “telecom killer” David Glickman, a man on a 15-year mission to make international communication a bit more affordable for all of us.
Each year, Inc. ranks the fastest-growing private companies in the US and is a comprehensive look at probably one of the most important segments of its economy – its independent entrepreneurs. The list has gained prominence by discovering the private companies that are quickly rising to the top, such as Domino’s Pizza and Timberland as well as a number of internet companies like Yelp, Pandora and LinkedIn. These now well-known brands gained early exposure not just in articles talking about their products, but also as members of the Inc. 5000. With all the companies in the list collectively generating $203 billion in 2014, with a fascinating average growth rate of 490%, it’s a list that you want to be on to be sure that your company is growing as fast as it can. And Ultra Mobile at Ultra.Me, tops this year’s list!
Ultra.Me is a US-based nationwide mobile carrier focused on a very particular set of services for a very particular target audience. While carriers usually offer everything including the kitchen sink, Ultra.Me focuses on cost-effective talk, data and SMS offering, with a particular emphasis on unlimited international calling to over 60 countries. Their target market is the estimated 40 million foreign-born people living in the US who regularly call or SMS internationally to stay connected to their family, friends and colleagues around the globe. These international calls usually prove very expensive with other carrier’s offerings, so Ultra.Me’s service makes sense for a lot of people, millions of them actually!
Ultra.Me’s international mobile plans are quite unique and start as low as $19 that includes calling and SMS-ing throughout the US and eleven other countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, China and Mexico – and also includes a 100MB of 4G LTE data plan. Other plans that range from $29 to $59 include much larger data plans as well as free international calling to more than 60 countries around the world – a key offer Ultra.Me has been keen on showcasing to its customers.
Three words: Growth that comes from experience and offering their SIM cards not through internet advertising (which didn’t work), but through stores!
Today, Ultra.Me sells over a million SIM cards every year that are available in over 25,000 retails stores such as 7Eleven and Target, as well as in 7,000 independent wireless stores nationwide. After buying a SIM card, customers can recharge their plan at over 60,000 stores.
It’s been a long journey since the company was founded in 2011. by David Glickman and his partners. In the late 90s, Glickman saw how companies were “jacking up prices” for international calls. His answer was Justice Technology, a company that offered a very, very cheap way to make international calls on landlines and that at its time topped the Inc. 5000, Glickman’s first time on the list. After his first venture, Glickman and his partners started other telecom businesses including one whose flagship product was IndiaLD – basically a calling card that made it very affordable for users to call from the US to India, obviously!
Seeing how mobile carriers were once again making international calling ridiculously expensive, Glickman and his team decides to solve this problem by creating a mobile virtual network operator, a carrier that uses the existing infrastructure of T-Mobile. T-Mobile’s COO Mike Sievert has in fact been very happy to see Ultra.Me on Inc.’s list, saying:
Like T-Mobile, Ultra is growing like gangbusters because they give their customers great value and a high-quality service on a blazing fast LTE network. It’s so great to see an exclusive T-Mobile partner topping the Inc. 5000 this year.
Interestingly enough, the growth didn’t come from internet advertising, although Glickman has said that their initial plan was to use Google Adwords and affiliate advertising to build a large customer base, especially since this strategy worked for them in the past. Not for Ultra.Me though, as Glickman explains in his Inc. interview:
With IndiaLD, we paid $30 to $50 to acquire each customer, but they usually referred three more, so it was really more like $10 to $15. When we launched Ultra, acquiring a customer cost more like $250 – customers didn’t want to change mobile carriers after seeing just an internet ad.
They instead went old-school, going to one of the largest annual wireless conventions in the US, CTIA Super Mobility, and pitching independent wireless stores and distributors. The strategy paid off and Ultra.Me was soon available in thousands of stores and today its distribution is even larger, with more than 25.000 retail stores offering Ultra.Me’s SIM cards.
After that, Ultra.Me got a great branding team to build up its national brand, including its website at Ultra.Me, a domain that describes the company’s dedication to bringing its customer available international communication.
Congratulations to Ultra.Me for topping the .Inc 5000!
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