An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Sebastian Codeville, the founder and CEO of KaiOS Technologies, which was honored in our:
- 2021 Best Tech Startups in San Diego
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in San Diego
- 2019 Best Tech Startups in San Diego
Tell us the origin story of KaiOS Technologies – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
KaiOS, our mobile operating system for smart feature phones, came to market in 2017, with the mission of eliminating the digital divide. We took a two prong approach to accomplishing this goal: bringing digital services to the billions of people without internet in emerging markets and reaching individuals in established markets looking for an alternative to expensive smartphones. Since that time, we’ve partnered with the largest mobile operators, ODMs/OEMs, and content providers to launch KaiOS powered devices all around the world. More than 135 million KaiOS-powered devices have shipped to date, helping people around the world connect to the internet and its invaluable resources for the first time.
Devices powered by KaiOS are unique because they have limited resource requirements, but have rich functionality through apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and other key Google services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps, etc. In addition to the most popular apps, we also maintain close relationships with local developers to ensure our devices are relevant and valuable to our users around the world.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Designing a full-featured mobile operating system to run on minimal hardware specs was and continues to be a challenge, but the lack of digital literacy in areas impacted by the global digital divide is one of the largest hurdles we face. While creating affordable yet capable mobile devices is a major step towards eliminating this technology gap, first-time internet users also require educational resources to make the most of their devices, which is why we’ve partnered with organizations including the GSMA, Cell-Ed, wikiHow, and other institutions and developers to make digital education courses and how-to guides available to all smart feature phone users.
What does the future hold for KaiOS Technologies?
Across the world, internet is becoming a pivotal part of life, and we see a big push by all parties to drive more people to internet connectivity.
Our focus for 2020 has been, and will continue to be, bringing internet access and digital services to new emerging economies. This means launching KaiOS-powered devices in countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia; and we’re particularly excited about the developments taking place in Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. We also plan to add innovations to our smart feature phone technology, offer additional services and form factor variations to address unique needs, and improve the software for device efficiency.
We will execute our business strategy to grow:
- Our user base
- Our user engagement and usage
- Monetization opportunities and revenues
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Partnerships with other companies and innovators are very important, not only for networking and building business connections, but also to help create a more well-rounded product/service. It’s through our partnerships with regional OEMs, telcos, and developers that we’re able to deliver a rich and accessible mobile experience to more people in over 150 countries around the world.