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Thorsten Trapp: The mobile specialist

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Name:

Thorsten Trapp

Role and company:

Co-Founder and CTO of tyntec.

Employee numbers:

150

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

tyntec is a mobile specialist that has turned SMS into a valuable communications tool. We created the first industry standard for SMS and we’ve built a strong reputation in the market for developing high quality SMS for global businesses. Our technology and innovation enables us to provide a high quality, yet simplified, experience for customers.

What’s the big vision for your business?

I now believe that the next challenge the telecommunications industry faces is to master the convergence of telecommunications and emerging IP-based communication systems. tyntec is positioned to enable this convergence because we work with solutions that work from anywhere, on any device. For example, SMS, voice and phone numbers, which are ideal to combine mobile and internet services. Our large customerbase in the internet sector means that we can enable them with telecom solutions to reach international audiences on any device.

Having played a key role in bringing enterprise-level SMS services to multinationals on a global scale, today we are in a strong position to tackle the web and OTT markets. The key for that is to focus on our global network connectivity and technology innovation, combined with the global expertise of our international people, compromising of 40 or more nations.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

Since 2002, tyntec has grown to more than 500 clients worldwide and 150 people in five global offices. Our service has always focused on reaching an international audience and at the moment, we’re at an exciting point in tyntec’s development. As our SMS business continues to grow, we’re now beginning to work with web companies to integrate their communication systems with telcos. In addition, we are developing our telecom business for internet companies by integrating SMS, voice and phone numbers in one package. In the future, we hope to be working with a number of large internet providers to deliver their mobile solutions.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:

To be honest, when you found a company and grow it into a successful business, there are plenty of big setbacks. However, the setbacks which seemed big at the time are usually stepping stones which help you achieve breakthroughs. So, there is not really one setback I could put a finger on. I am not really someone who dwells on setbacks. I just put my head down, remain positive and move forward.

What makes you mad in business today?

That people don’t learn from past mistakes. There’s always a lot of hype in technology and it makes me mad to see a huge technology bubble being developed at the moment. I look back at the internet bubble of the 2000’s and I see that, in some cases, the market is following the exact same path. There are companies paying millions, sometimes billions, for mobile start-ups that have yet to make a penny and prove their business case. Yet, they are bought for huge amounts on suspected potential alone. There is no doubt that we need an entrepreneurial environment and that investment is needed to enable innovation, but I do think people need a reality check sometimes.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

With the web and Over The Top (OTT) marketplace growing and more providers popping up every day, the fragmentation of the communications market is becoming a huge challenge for OTT players, operators and consumers alike. I believe that more internet and OTT companies will recognise the value of enabling reach and interoperability by combining their offering with telecoms services like mobile numbers, SMS and voice. At the same time, I think more operators will look into collaboration with OTT players and web companies instead of trying to compete against them.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

I believe they can. My experience at tyntec showed me that when you have a strong company with proven products and a pipeline with plenty of potential, investors understand. In our industry, investors can see that there’s a potential for growth in telecoms. Whenever an industry undergoes rapid transformation there is great potential for innovative companies such as tyntec to grow.

If we look at the example of our core business of SMS, media reports would suggest that it has no future. But investors are smart – they look at the figures. The reality is that the industry is changing to be more focussed on enterprise services, which is exactly where we are positioned. Investors understand that companies like Facebook and Google are investing massively into A2P SMS and so, they are willing to invest.

How would others describe your leadership style?

I believe others would describe my leadership style as hands-on, direct and results-orientated. With my solid track record I would also like to think that others believe my style to be visionary.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

Like a cliché “tech guy” I like to play with fun and creative gadgets in my spare time. That’s where I am extravagant. Sometimes I strip them down to their components to really understand how they work. I find it frees up my mind, too.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

Mr. prime minister, if you would like entrepreneurial businesses to prosper, you need to begin by taxing them less. Lower taxes for small businesses would mean more money to reinvest in the businesses, which in turn would enable growth and generate new jobs. Your government should also focus on removing the bureaucratic hurdles of setting up a new business, using the US as a model. You could easily finance this lowering of the tax burden for small businesses by closing tax loop holes that currently enable large corporations – like Starbucks – to get away with paying very little tax.

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