Original device manufacturer MOJO Maker has joined up with Micro-P to ensure its handsets and accessories dominate the youth market. The firm’s founder, Caroline Preston, tells Paul Withers about its future plans
It’s been a busy first 12 months for little known original device manufacturer (ODM) MOJO Maker. The company, which was founded by sales and marketing director Caroline Preston in 2011, offers a range of handsets and accessories built by an unnamed third party.
Preston says the firm, which is based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, is almost exclusively targeting the fashion-conscious youth market – a focus that is reflected heavily in the company’s website and branding.
To date, the company has just a single device in the market, the prepay ‘Chat’ handset, which launched last June. At the time, MOJO distributed the device alone to its sole retail partner, Tesco, which began selling it in July for £20 through its MVNO, Tesco Mobile.
Preston claims sales of the featurerich Chat, which has a 1.3-megapixel camera, an MP3 and video player and a 2GB memory card, have passed 165,000 – which she says is way beyond her expectations.
“In our first year as a business, we’ve certainly achieved more than we expected,” Preston said.
“Look at it like this, Alcatel following its joint venture with TCL sold 95,000 units in its first year, putting them on the radar for the first time since they entered the market in 1992.
“We’ve sold 165,000 units in our first year. That is a clear sign of just how successful we’ve been.”
Understandably, Preston, who has worked in the mobile industry for more than two decades (see boxout on next page), is in confident mood ahead of the next phase, which will see the roll-out of six more handsets this year – half of which are Android smartphones.
These include the ‘SNapps’, ‘Flirt’, ‘Lite’ and ‘Blah’ handsets, which go on sale in the coming weeks. The ‘ama-Zing’ handset will follow shortly after, with the ‘Andromeda’ and ‘Uber’ slated for release in Q4.
The company also has its own range of accessories, available from its online shop. These include handset batteries, chargers, earphones, covers, pouches and data cables. Customers can also download a selection of games, wallpapers and ringtones for their MOJO Maker handsets.
But Preston wants these products in more than just Tesco. And in May this year, the firm signed with IT and mobile distributor Micro-P, which will work to increase MOJO Maker’s brand exposure.
Micro-P has direct distribution agreements with Samsung, LG and Nokia, and supplies some of the UK’s leading online and high street retailers, which include all the major supermarket chains, Phones 4U, Carphone Warehouse, Vodafone, Three, HMV, Amazon, Play.com and Argos.
“Micro-P has the qualities within their business to understand what’s right for the retailer and consumer, rather than just move boxes,” Preston says.
“They have a concern for the vendor and respect the brand qualities the vendor is trying to deliver. In terms of category management, they have the most current and appropriate skill sets within their business. They’re clearly well funded, go from strength to strength, and so it’s not difficult to back a real winner.
“They have some really well-established routes to market and that could and would be an advantage for us, although we would always take the lead in negotiations.
“A lot of Tesco’s buying ability and vision for mobile is why they closely support the original device market. The price point was right, there was a lot of due diligence to ensure that the customer offering was right.
“They’re very customer-centric, very reactive and also it felt very much like we were going for the biggest prize that was available. The UK dictates the rest of western Europe. It was definitely our top ambition to work with them so securing that deal could not have been a better start.”
Micro-P general manager mobile John Doughty said: “MOJO Maker is very targeted and know exactly where they sit. We only add partners if we feel we can benefit everyone involved.”
Preston says the firm can now increase turnover tenfold to £40 million by 2015 and that it has a multimillion-pound investment fund – although she refuses to provide any details about the company’s investor.
“The investor is not from within the mobile industry. We’re already benefitting from some of the investment or the facility that is on offer.”
Part of that investment has gone straight into a TV advertising campaign across the UK and Ireland for MOJO Maker’s new range, which kicked off in March this year.
The animated 30-second advert shows four characters – Rudi, Dale, Tineka and Derek – attending a music festival using their MOJO Maker handsets to find one another, listen to music and take photos and videos to upload to social networking sites.
The ads have featured on popular digital music channels E4, 4 Music, Kerrang, Kiss, Q, Smash Hits and Irish channel 3e.
These channels were specifically chosen to access the ODM’s target youth audience and those who are regular users of social networking and are technology-savvy, fashion- and price-conscious.
Preston describes the television advertising as “absolutely key” to the company: “Market positioning is vital to us. You read a lot about brands and manufacturers being all things to all people. MOJO Maker is all about focus.
“Marketing, and consumer marketing in particular, will be key this year in achieving pull-through and delivering an expanded range of products. Last year, we were very product-centric in terms of what was available on the high street and we want to make sure we build on that.
“We’ve possibly been fortunate, but the original device market is going from strength to strength. Outsiders will look at the way a product looks and the technology that comes with it, and it is a market that is price-sensitive.
“We’ve talked about new channels, products and resources within the business, and above-the-line marketing campaigns will really start to make our brand visible. All these things have been considered and planned for some time.
“The investment we’ve received does not only allow us to get to the next level, but beyond that.
“This year I want to ensure our business is clearly viewed as an original device manufacturer.
“By the time our new products hit the shelves, I want to make sure the consumer knows who we are.
“We know exactly where we want to be in the market, which is the teenage arena, and that is why we have such a strong customer ID, and everything about our media, language and feature set is driven by reaching that target market.”
Full article in Mobile News issue 521 (August 27, 2012).
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