This company is part of Executive’s Top 20 for 2015. Read more stories from our entrepreneurship in Lebanon section, for the latest analysis on the country’s ecosystem.
Industry: Telecommunications and technology
Product: Dual SIM appliance
Product Launch: 2016
Employees: 13 contracted employees worldwide
Founders: Fouad Fattal and Nabil Nasr
Shareholders: Nicolas Sehnaoui, Ghassan Hasbani, Walid Rizk, Bassem Boustany, Walid Hanna, Raja Gedeon
Krimston labels itself as inventing the solution for all Apple lovers who are recurring travellers and tired of having to switch phones when abroad. Co-founders Fouad Fattal and Nabil Nasr have developed a product, due to go live early 2016, that is a new SIM card solution to enable users to operate a cell phone with two SIM cards. The product, which looks like a phone cover, can be understood as a ‘phone without a screen’. A SIM card slots into the cover, and a downloaded app enables the user to interchange between the two SIM cards and use them both, for example, by allowing them to choose between a domestic and foreign line for placing calls and sending messages. The ‘cover’ also offers charging capabilities and is a hotspot that enables 3G usage of the inserted SIM’s data. The IP for the device has been registered in the UK.
Having raised $400,000 by the end of 2014 from angel investors and loans, the co-founders travelled to Silicon Valley to produce a prototype that could be taken to production and specifically appeal to iPhone users. Krimston will be piloting the product in February through a Kickstarter campaign, and will use feedback to improve their product. The target market is the global iPhone usage of 400 million devices worldwide, though their initial production batch will be 10,000 units, which Fattal hopes will be followed by exponential growth upon successful sales, and an injection of at least 150,000 units by the end of 2016 into the market across the globe, with manufacturing done in India and operations conducted in Lebanon. Their target market are dual SIM card users for travelling, and also individuals who wish to cherry-pick the best features of two different line operators.
While Krimston are still finalising the final retail price, current estimates are at $199 per device but subject to the feedback from focus groups. The device is a hybrid that operates as a phone but appears as an accessory, and marketing ploys will need to be implemented carefully so users understand the true value of the device. Fattal and Nasr have secured another loan from Lebanese financial company Kafalat of $400,000, which ensures production will happen, and Fattal estimates that by mid 2016 total expenditure will hover at $800,000, the bulk of which will be on research and development and tooling. Their six-member strategy consultant heavy board also features the familiar faces of Nicolas Sehnaoui, former minister of telecommunications, and Walid Hanna, managing partner at Middle East Venture Partners.
Fattal emphasises that Krimston wishes to operate from Lebanon but has the world as the target market. Since this type of operation requires a lot of different talents, Krimston’s future vision is to create a professional entity where individuals can deploy their knowledge, rather than travelling abroad, and the end goal would be to seek partnership with Apple, pending a Made For iPhone (MFi) certification and licence. To feed back into the ecosystem, Krimston will look to hire developers (specifically iOS), electrical and technological engineers, a sales and in-house marketing team and a logistics and customer service department, and wishes to keep all operations within the country. Fattal has great enthusiasm for employing Lebanese talent, and estimates that their multicultural society and ease of adaptation to environments will allow them to become a strong sales team, which he envisions being online, through distributors (and therefore retailers) and business-to-business.