Before that, all six of Invigo’s founders were employed for FTML, the only mobile operator in the Lebanese market. When the Lebanese government broke its contract with the company, the 6 engineers resigned, cashed their compensation checks and went on to do what they did best: create value-added services for mobile operators, but this time at their own risk.
“This is when we crossed to the dark side,” jokes Fouad, who had more than 12 years of experience with mobile operators at the time Invigo was created. The crossover was much anticipated and all his accumulated experience in the field was put to action: “We knew what to do. We knew how to approach operators. We already had a list of contacts. We knew how the relationship between the value-added service provider and the operator should be governed in a way where the operator will be continuously satisfied.”
Invigo delivers a whole set of solutions around device management to operators. For example, one of the tools that Invigo provides allows operators to remotely configure new devices that power into the network – eliminating the hassle of manual configuration for the subscriber. The operator automatically detects the type of device used by the client, and then sends him the correct service configurations by SMS. This is an example of a service that Invigo developed from scratch, and currently offers to mobile operators worldwide.
Invigo has also developed a device management solution for SMEs that allows the IT manager to micromanage the mobile fleet across the company, the same way he would manage PCs. It gives the manager rights to access the network and manage each handset individually, including firewall settings, application downloads, contacts, and even expenses. Most importantly it allows him to back up important data on each device and gives him the possibility of remotely locking and wiping data from the device in case it was lost or stolen.
Another solution that Invigo offers to the public through mobile operators is a backup/restore application that saves all of the client’s information to a cloud hosted by the operator. This cross-platform solution makes transferring from one device to another easier.
In parallel, Invigo offers solutions to authorities in device authentication, allowing them to fight fraud and limit the illegal importation of devices.
Invigo is based in Beirut with a branch in Dubai and a sales office in Amsterdam. Its customer base spreads across Central America to Asia Pacific passing through Africa and Europe. It currently operates in 70 countries with more than 100 references.
“We work around the mobile device. We are aware that it has become king of assets for productivity. We offer companies that need to manage devices ways to do it,” explains Fouad, who believes that people must have the genetic predisposition to become entrepreneurs. “You must have the need for risk taking, for venturing into new projects, and for being your own boss.” Fouad finds his own entrepreneurial path fun and enriching: “Nothing tops the challenges that you put for yourself.” He admits that becoming an entrepreneur starts with openness towards professional possibilities. “If you have the right mindset, you will jump at the opportunities that life brings your way, while others will look away because they feel safe in their stability. Looking for opportunities has to start somewhere: you need to have this inner need or feeling that you have to start something on your own. Just by setting yourself up for that attitude, you put yourself in a position where you are sensitive to opportunities.”
Another factor that is very important to Fouad in starting a company is having a partner: “I don’t know if there is a secret recipe to succeeding in partnerships. We were lucky that we were on the same track, with the same commitment level, same vision and whatever happens we were six and we could handle it!”
At its launch, Invigo faced many challenges, including not having one signed project during its first year of operation. Fouad recalls: “ The first year we had zero contracts. It is hard to penetrate the market when you don’t have references or a finished product. We started by reaching out to our old contacts for referrals. One of our old colleagues from FTML, who joined an international operator, rooted for us in the new company he worked with and we got hired. We had an aggressive price and we put in a lot of free work. It has all been upwards from there.”
Invigo has recently joined the UN Global Compact, which is a worldwide initiative that calls for companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals.
“By actively committing to this initiative the network grows and the impact will be bigger,” insists Fouad, “On the global level, when you work with someone who is part of this network you are at ease and he is at ease with you because you share the same values.”