- White Plains, NY
- # of Employees
- 10 domestic employees
- Ahmed Khattak
- Company Type
With so many MVNOs crowding the market nowadays, it can be tough for newcomers to set themselves apart. Yet US Mobile has done just that with their affordable, a la carte style plans and super responsive customer service.
US Mobile began on the college campuses of Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Stanford where the company partnered with the schools' international offices to distribute SIM cards to international students. From these humble beginnings founder Ahmed Khattak and his team have been able to scale the company to tens of thousands of users.
US Mobile's prices are very competitive (the average bill is $15 a month), and the company's customer service earns them some of the highest scores in the industry.
We sat down with Khattak for a wide-ranging chat on the company's origins, work culture, challenges, and future endeavors.
WhistleOut: How did US Mobile come about? What led you to start the company?
Ahmed Khattak: I saw that there was a change in how people used their phones. Talk and text was changing, data use was changing, and the MVNOs in the country had kind of adapted to the situation. So there was an opportunity to go after a specific market segment that was drastically changing, and an opportunity around providing great customer service.
Who were the other architects in US mobile’s creation and what role did they play?
Myself and the company’s controller, Umair Ansari, were the first two people to get US Mobile up and running, and we stayed small for some time. Even after we launched to the end of 2015, there were only four or five people on the team. We kind of scaled up after that.Tell me about the company’s beginnings.
We started out at Yale, Princeton, Harvard and Stanford. We partnered with the university's’ international offices, and they gave SIM cards to the international students. Those were our first-ever customers. We expanded upon that in our first year to the extent that I think last year, 80% of Princeton's undergraduate international students actually signed up with US Mobile.
Are there any bumps in the road that you’ve encountered as you’ve grown over the last few years?
Not really any specific bumps, other than just being a startup, and the challenges that come with being a wireless carrier. Many other MVNOs have either gone bankrupt or lost significant market share in the years since we launched. Meanwhile, we’ve been able to sustain growth.
What do you see as distinct about US Mobile compared to other MVNOs?
Our intellectual property, I would say. We’re pretty much the only MVNO out there that allows users to customize 392 different plans on the fly. Once you log into the dashboard, you can add any of those iterations instantly. A lot of MVNOs let you go up or down; with us, you can add minutes, text, or data in real time. Over the course of one day, if you need to add 100 minutes or 500 text messages, you can do that instantly. That’s something that not a lot of people have been able to replicate, and part of the reason that we totally stand apart.
All of this technology is in-house. This allows us to innovate quickly, whether we need to launch new plans or change some platform feature. We’re basically a carrier that’s run by nerds. I think that’s something that’s very inherent to us. That’s not really the case with most of our competitors.
What is your daily schedule like at US Mobile?
I’ll generally wake up around 6 AM, check a few emails out, and then wander into the office anywhere between 8AM to 9:30AM, depending on how the day looks. I’ll start with some conversations with the team, and discuss our agenda for the day. Between 10 AM and 12 I’ll knock out some items on my to-do list, respond to emails. After lunch, I’ll usually have one meeting with marketing and growth and another with the partners, and that takes me up to about 6 or 7 PM. I generally stick around the office for another hour or hour and a half to finish up and tie up loose ends, then head back home.
How would you describe the work culture at US Mobile?
We have an open office, and everyone sits together. There’s a very flat hierarchy in the company, and it’s a very collaborative work environment. That’s the way we’re built--we just couldn’t go forward without collaboration. We’re also very close knit. A colleague visited us recently and we all went out to lunch together. He was like, “You guys are like a family, eating off each other’s plates.”
We’re all young and everyone has an amazing entrepreneurial spirit. Something that’s unique about US Mobile is that, other than myself, no one in the company has a telecom background. I thought that was important for us. If we’re going to change telecom, people have to have an entirely different perspective to bring to the table.
In what ways have you grown the company since those early days? What would you point to as showing the biggest growth over the last three years?
Even though we’re still a fairly small team, we’ve grown significantly over the last couple of years, especially when it comes to our customer service team. We pride ourselves in having real people answering the phone within 20 seconds, chat within 10 seconds, and emails within 10 minutes, 24/7.
We’ve signed up 40,000 users so far, and we’re very excited about launching our service on the largest and most dependable 4G LTE network this summer, giving US Mobile customers the best coverage in the country.
Where do you see US Mobile in five years?
We believe we can connect our service with every household in America, providing affordable plans not only for phones but for a kid’s smartwatch, the family car or the dog’s GPS tracker.
To check out all of US Mobile's plans and compare them with those of other MVNOs, click over to WhistleOut's comparison tool, now supercharged with the new coverage check feature.