Martin Petkov, COO, manages a team that is behind some of the most exciting innovations in the field
Virtual mobile communications are bound to gain more space in our lives and Effortel is among the pioneers in the field. What started in Belgium years ago as a small team of entrepreneurial telecom professionals is now a highly-valued consultant in the creation of virtual mobile networks all over the world. Bulgaria and its talents are a major part of Effortel's global virtual revolution.
We met with Martin Petkov to learn more about this impressive organisation and the role of its Bulgarian teams in its operations. At 41 years old, he already has significant international experience in telecommunications. In 2005 he became the youngest manager in the team of Globul, and in the following years he gained experience at Eircom – Ireland, Qtel – Qatar and Palestine, Alcatel Lucent – France, and KPN Group – Belgium. Martin Petkov joined Effortel in 2013, when he became operative director at Effortel Technologies – Belgium. Today he is the company's COO.
What is Effortel?
Effortel is a company for developing high-tech solutions of management of the business and operations of all types of telecoms. It has gained a place on the market while successfully competing with brands such as Ericsson, Amdocs, Netcracker, Cerillion and others.
Effortel started in 2006 in Belgium. The initial idea was to be a technological department dedicated to creating innovations for the global mobile brand Carrefour Mobile. These ideas were well positioned and guaranteed the success of the initiative. After its stellar start in Belgium, it was later successfully applied in Italy, Taiwan and Poland.
After these projects' completion, Effortel expanded outside the frame of its Carrefour partnership. We targeted the global market of virtual mobile operators and as early as 2007 we were already offering a completely cloud-based software and infrastructure solution for management of telecom business and operations. A number of successful projects in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa followed, and the company expanded significantly both in the field of management and maintenance services, and the domain of innovation and new solutions development.
In 2015 Effortel evolved further and we started working on developing our own software product for end-to-end telecom business and operations management, and we have already successfully integrated the first version in Italy and Russia.
Our current major project – a virtual mobile network – already has several global patents for some of its aspects, and as a part of its daily operations we manage billions of transactions from 13 different operators, with over 4 million active clients.
What is a mobile virtual network and who are Effortel clients?
The main difference between a mobile virtual network and a non-virtual one is that the virtual operator (MVNO) is not licensed for frequency and does not have its own wireless network infrastructure. Hence, it integrates its operations in the frequency and network infrastructure of an already existing, classic mobile telecom, using its resources and paying for the access at wholesale rates. Having in mind that national regulators provide to operators limited frequency bands and that there is a real danger of market monopoly, regulators in many countries have mandated that mobile operators provide access to their networks to all companies interested in virtual mobile networks, at preferential rates.
However, not everywhere the legal framework of the field's liberalisation has been clear and well-defined. That is why this business model can be viable only in countries where wholesale access is priced low enough to allow a profit of at least 40% for the MVNO. In the cases when mobile telecoms have accepted this business model as a possible source of additional income and optimisation of their network’s usage, we have witnessed proper conditions for successful development of such businesses.
From the end-customer's point of view, the virtual operator is just the same as the classic one: it has its own channels for sales and services and branded SIM cards, its network name appears on the phone's screen, it has its own product mix, and all the other relevant props typical for a telecom. In most cases, however, MVNOs have something that differentiates them from classical telecoms. This could be another major product, or a particular segment their marketing mix is targeting, or something else that makes them interesting for the end-consumer. There are many examples. The most important thing for the MVNO is to have a good technology partner, business conditions with the classic telecom that provide proper profitability, and a market niche within which to operate.
Where are you positioned and how many employees do you have?
As a Bulgarian I have never doubted that Bulgaria is a wonderful place for developing and realisation of business ideas. Of course, we also employ highly qualified talents who are actually the power engine of Effortel's innovation, flexibility and effectiveness. This does not mean that we limit ourselves to hiring professionals only on Bulgarian territory. I have personally spent years working abroad and have met quality people all over the world.
Our highly capable team that manages Effortel's product architecture also teaches at the Technology University in Sofia, and participates in an international group that develops the new versions of Java programming language. I cannot stop myself from sharing my joy from the fact that we also successfully attract professionals from other countries. Thanks to the EU's Blue Card programme, professionals from Serbia, Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Albania, Israel and other countries have already joined our Bulgarian team and have relocated their families here.
Do you plan to expand your business and what talents could become a successful part of your team?
Today we can say that the expansion is already a fact. As I already mentioned, many Bulgarian and foreign professionals have joined our team. As our business is very dynamic, we expect the possibility to attract talents experienced in Java, Front End and .Net, and also colleagues for our NOC and OPS departments.