A brand new T-Mobile MVNO is coming out of beta today and it’s got an interesting pitch to try and attract new customers. The MVNO piggybacks on T-Mobile’s network, and already has more than 25,000 customers acquired during its beta period thanks to a network of friends, family and colleagues, some of whom have earned cash signing up.
Solavei customers start by signing up with a $49 startup fee and then pay $49 per month for service. Solavei customers can use their existing unlocked GSM smartphones, or pick up new unsubsidized models from the company including the HTC Wildfire and HTC One S, the latter of which sells for $529.
The integral part of Solavei’s business model is the ability to earn $20 for every “trio” a customer gets to join the network. In other words, if I, David can get Larry, Moe and Curly to sign up on Solavei, I’ll earn $20. Solavei’s business model hopes to cut the costs of customer care and acquisition costs per customer by not paying for subsidies, instead having customers referring their friends and family to sign up. It’s this reliance on word of mouth that will hopefully entice users to sign up friends and earn money. It’s a novel business model to be sure, but one that has heavy hitters backing it.
Solavei board members include T-Mobile’s former COO Sue Nokes, widely thought to be responsible for T-Mobile’s consistent reign of customer service awards, David Limp, a Vice President at Amazon, Ryan Weurch, the former founder of Motricity, and other high profile former members of Congress and board members from Target, Walmart, Louis Vuitton and more. Needless to say, Solavei is led by a team that has plenty of experience in the mobile world, including a number of former T-Mobile executives.
So why is Solavei different? According to their website:
We think a person’s voice is the most powerful form of marketing, so that’s what we want to invest in. While other companies spend billions on traditional marketing, we reward you for sharing Solavei with your connections.
Here’s my question to you? Does the prospect of referring customers to a MVNO network and earning money for doing so entice you? Would you give up a national carrier to earn some extra money all while getting the benefits of the T-Mobile network, including LTE when it arrives?