THE 'REJECT' WHO BUILT A GLOBAL BUSINESS AFTER BEING FIRED
Written on the 6 June 2017 by David Simmons
TEN years ago, Carl Krumins was fired from his job sweeping floors at the Reject Shop and was faced with two potential options: stay unemployed or start a business.
With a background in technology developed from a young age, deconstructing and reconstructing computers, Krumins decided to work for himself.
After taking out a $10,000 loan Krumins and "running a few credit cards", he started text messaging service SMSGlobal in 2007 from his bedroom.
By undercutting his biggest competitors by over half the price, SMSGlobal quickly became the number one solution in Australia for business to person SMS messaging services.
Within the space of 10 years, Krumins has expanded his business globally and now has an office set up in Dubai, all in the space of 10 short years.
The 34-year-old Krumins now runs a company which sends out over one million messages a day for more than 400,000 clients in 165 countries.
His clients include giants like Facebook, Etihad, ANZ, Samsung and IMB.
The company aims to offer a reliable, innovative and cost-effective range of mobile messaging solutions such as alerts, appointment reminders, 2 factor authentication services, competitions, and customer surveys.
The company is currently gearing up to launch in the US market to take full advantage of the growing SMS A2P (application to person) platform which is expected to reach SMS traffic of 2.5 trillion by 2020.
We spoke to Krumins about how he got SMSGlobal off the ground, the best moments of the last 10 years, and what it's like to lead a company spanning the entire globe.
What's the story behind the beginning of SMS Global how did you get started and what were some of the big challenges when first beginning?Like many start-ups, I started with working out of my bedroom in the city. And I knew there was a huge potential for growth in the messaging industry.
The competitors were charging 20 to 25 cents a message whether it was Telstra or other competitors. We came in with a very disruptive model and charged 10 cents a message which was unheard of at the time, it was about half the price of the nearest competitor.
And being new and providing good customer service meant we were competitive on that side. As essential was getting good employees and staff to help keep that ethos alive while we grew.
I just get a call every morning and get a daily update from my operations team. Making sure that in the head office and regional satellite offices making sure that everything is going well.
What's it like heading up a big company like this which has grown so quickly?It is hard to get down time and switch off. Because of the different time zones, you never know if you're in the Australia time zone or the Dubai time zone or the American time zone. It's been good to have a scalable model so it's easier to work with staff. It helps to scale the business in different time zones.
How exactly does being based in Dubai assist the company with growing?I came to Dubai during the middle of the GFC in 2008, so while everyone was leaving I took a punt and said I think this country has a positive vibe.
Dubai has different laws and culture and having to need all these special licences to trade the space we were in was a bit of trial and error, Dubai being the first international office.
There was a lot more regulatory red tape compared to setting up shop in Australia. You have to apply, get things translated into Arabic, so it took us a good 12 months just to get that initial office going.
I chose Dubai because there was no other kind of western competitor that offered quality service.
There's a lot of access to the other countries in the region and Dubai caters in terms of personal lifestyle whatever you want to do. Whether you want to be rich or humble or poor, Dubai offers every end of the spectrum. Not so much in Saudi Arabia, so it's a good western friendly hub where you can settle in the culture or the region.
How about the Asian markets, have you tapped into them much or have you found it difficult to tap into them?I steered clear from the majority of major Asian markets, in countries like China there's too much red tape. They dictate what you can buy for and what you can sell for, and if they don't like what you're doing with a customer they'll block you anyway.
And not speaking Chinese, even though I didn't speak Arabic coming here everyone in Dubai speaks English, even in the business world, but the Asian market is something we'll steer clear from.
Does the company have any plans on listing on the ASX any time soon?No, not at this stage. We've had people come and approach us and knock on our door and we've kind of gone down that road a little bit, it is a very distracting road that can distract you away from what the core business is very quickly.
We've had a few opportunities to walk down that road but the amount of the bigger ideas like building new products and going to new countries is more exciting. It's a very big ocean.
We've been cash flow positive since day one, and reinvesting off that to grow the business on our own.
What's the future for the company generally? Expanding on the current strategy of global expansion or does the company plan to expand into new areas?We're actively expanding into new areas. Maybe six to eight months ago we were working on the development of eastern Europe. We put programs in there to expand out a few more products which are still under wraps at this point in time. But it's complementary in our way which is messaging. We'll be expanding out to new countries, we'll be making new products and selling to our customers.
What message or tips do you have for young entrepreneurs looking to start their own company?Surround yourselves with other entrepreneurs, don't be scared to bounce your ideas off other people, google, make it better, don't be scared if someone is going to steal your ideas, if you're working on your idea you're going to do it better.
Never miss a story: Sign up to Business News Australia's free news updates
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram
Author: David Simmons