Friday, March 30, 2007

Business project 2

Predrag Djokic, 35; George Lipordezis, 28; & Leon Yohai, 32
QMobile
Reston, Virginia
Projected 2006 Sales: More than $24 million
Description: Mobile phone content provider

Bigger Than the Wheel: Working in the family’s optometry business in his home country of Greece, Leon Yohai felt his future was going nowhere. That is, until the internet came along—and suddenly, Yohai knew where to look. “It was the biggest discovery, even bigger than the wheel,” Yohai laughs. He taught himself how to write computer code and, in 1999, started his own business, InternetQ. The company started out building websites but eventually switched to the telecom industry. By 2003, InternetQ had become the largest mobile content pro-vider in Greece.

Coming to America: That same year, Yohai sold InternetQ and decided he should introduce the technology overseas. Living and working out of a friend’s home in Virginia, Yohai started Qmobile with two friends from Greece, Predrag Djokic and George Lipordezis, who were also former InternetQ employees. Together, the trio secured $6 million in venture funding and was able to negotiate a deal with their first client, T-Mobile. “We were lucky enough that our billing platform was made by the same manufacturer as their billing platform, so it was easy to connect,” Yohai says. By 2004, the company had moved into a proper office in Reston, Virginia, and has since grown to 25 employees.

The Next Big Thing: With all the capabilities mobile phones have today, wireless content may not seem that original, but Qmobile was one of the first to introduce the possibilities of SMS text messaging technology to the U.S. Qmobile, the parent company of Qtones.com, provides content such as games and ringtones to customers from all major carriers, including Sprint and Verizon. Customers order content via SMS text messaging or online and are billed through their phone service.

A Different World: Yohai says the differences in business practices between Europe and America are startling. “To create a company from scratch in Greece, you need to wait a good three months from the day you file papers, and it costs you a bunch of money,” Yohai says. “Here, you can start the company the same day, and you pay a tenth of what you pay [in Greece].”
Follow Their Lead: Follow your passion wherever it takes you—even if that means relocating with good friends by your side for support.

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