Minglur is an easy to use conference calling service for businesses that are looking for a cost effective solution when holding important meetings over the phone. Its founder, Oliver West, spoke to us about branding, apps, starting up a new business and why sometimes it’s better to talk.
Hi Oliver, tell us about yourself. What’s been your career path to date?
I studied design at college and started working as a freelance graphic/web designer straight after graduating. After taking on lots of projects, and ultimately too much work, I started farming the work out to other freelancers and slowly became a small digital agency. I then turned my focus to the business side of things and changed my role to that of a digital project manager. Since that point, I have managed projects of all sizes from small catalogue sites to web apps for some leading global brands. My goal has always been to create an online business for myself though.
What is Minglur all about and when did you get the idea for it?
Having used numerous conference call services over the years, both paid as well as free services, I’ve discovered problems with most of them. Some have a really poor user experience, some just lack basic functionality. We decided to build our own free conference call service but to really offer the industry something new, we wanted to build a loyalty scheme into the service – but, one that’s actually worth using; everybody hates loyalty schemes that require spending thousands to earn a £5 voucher.
We like to be as transparent as possible so we’re happy to tell everyone about our business model. You don’t pay us a penny to use Minglur. When you dial our 0844 number you pay your phone provider the standard rate, which is roughly 4.3p per minute and then we get a percentage of that cost. We then give part of that back to you in the form of points which you can exchange for cinema tickets, restaurant vouchers, wine, iPads and more. That’s it! There are no hidden costs or extras.
Who is Minglur for and why should people sign up?
That’s easy, they should sign up because we’re offering all new customers 1,000 bonus points if they join through our bonus offer page before the offer runs out.
To answer the first part of that question, Minglur really is suitable for anyone wanting to have a group chat, whether that’s a virtual meeting with overseas colleagues, a catch-up with remote workers or a conference or sales pitch. You’re only paying for your part of the call, not for all the other participants as you would do with a competitor like BT.
More and more people are using email alone to communicate. What do you think are the benefits of conference calling to do business?
The same reason you would choose a face to face group meeting over an email. Email is great for 2 way communications but add a third (or fourth, or fifth, or twentieth) person into the mix and it’s not so effective. Conference calling also has the added benefit of allowing that meeting to take place without the need for jumping in a car, on a train or flying across time zones.
How have you promoted Minglur so far and how successful has it been?
As we felt right from the start of this project, we knew that if we created an easy to use and free service that people would happily use it. Add in the fact that people get gifts for using the service then it’s a no brainer. We’ve found there’s no loyalty to any brand in this industry so people are more than happy to change if it means a better deal for them. A lot of our competitors offer the same product but we’re the only ones giving something back.
We all know that word-of-mouth is the best, and cheapest, form of advertising and we’re confident that customers will help us spread the word. To run alongside the rewards system, we’ve also set up a referral scheme so customers can refer Minglur to friends and colleagues and earn extra points from every call these referrals setup and make. It’s as simple as giving out a special link that’s unique to them. There is no limit to the amount of people you can refer so customers can very quickly earn themselves an iPad or a feast at one of Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin starred restaurants.
How did you go about designing a logo and branding Minglur so it’s instantly recognisable to users?
The ultimate goal for any logo design is to create an impression, ideally an instantly recognisable one. To do this you need to keep things simple with clever use of colour, typography and shapes. When considering the brand right from the beginning we were very clear we wanted it to be friendly and informal yet professional and trustworthy. These keywords helped us with every element of the brand, from the name and logo right through to the sales messages and our strapline ‘More gift for your gab’.
Your website has a clear and simple design with corresponding clear, informative text. What are the advantages of keeping everything simple?
Quite simply, it’s understandable to everyone and hopefully it appeals to everyone too. Personally I get annoyed by any marketing, whether it’s a website or a press ad, that uses big words for the sake of making them look or sound more professional, when it really doesn’t match the product or brand image.
You’re active on Facebook, what are the benefits of having a social media presence and why did you choose to focus on Facebook?
We are under no illusion that conference calls are not the most exciting subject to most, so it’s really about providing something of benefit to our Facebook friends whether that’s useful information about business or just some light hearted humour. From our perspective, it’s keeping the brand fresh in their mind so when they do decide to make a conference call, hopefully Minglur will pop into their head before any of our competitors.
You’re launching apps for Minglur soon, what’s the idea for that?
Our ultimate goal for Minglur was to create a free and easy to use service with great features. We wanted to make the experience for our customers more productive and more rewarding and our mobile apps will do just that.
From the apps you’ll be able to do almost everything the website can do, plus make use of some of the other features your phone has to offer – we’re not creating an app because it’s the ‘in thing’ to do, we’re spending time and money creating them to make your working life easier!
What advice do you have for new and start-up businesses?
As a startup you’ll need lots of help and advice from people around you. No matter how good you are at a particular subject, you can’t be an expert at everything – branding, websites, marketing, sales, finance, PR, team management etc. This list really is endless so having experts to call on for advice could well be make or break for a new venture.
After years of hearing people say ‘what goes around, comes around’, I now realise how true that is in business. Over the years I’ve done countless hours of work for friends or colleagues without getting or even asking for anything in return, I now find it a lot easier to ask these people for a favour knowing I’ve helped them out in the past. Use whatever resource you can and try to think outside the box.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, just be careful and thoughtful how you ask for it.
You can find out more about Minglur and claim your 1000 free bonus points by going to Minglur.com.
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