Monty Mobile began in 1998 as a small single-office operation. Mountasser Hachem, Monty Mobile’s CEO and Founder, was one of the first people to venture into interactive TV services in the Middle East and Africa.
Now, the company is an international player in mobile messaging and transaction services. Mountasser speaks with The CEO Magazine about his motivations, challenges and vision for the future of telecommunications.
The CEO Magazine: What inspired you to start Monty Mobile?
Mountasser: I have always had an interest in telecommunications and technology. When setting up Monty Mobile, there was a lot of hype around interactive communication. I am a calculated risk-taker and I love a great challenge. So, I jumped in because of the nature of the industry and the innovation that I could see coming. After 15 years in this field, I believe I made the right choice.
What is the company culture like?
It is mainly a culture of adventure with an engaged workforce. We encourage a team-oriented environment that contributes to improved employee communication, cooperation and performance, where the company’s goals motivate everyone. We all work hard as one, have fun along the journey and celebrate success together.
What is your management style?
Since I am adventurous, love challenges and easily adapt to change, I have always believed that no matter what, a dream can come true. I motivate my team to be part of the vision. I am confident that I have a reliable and supportive team behind me and this is why I apply a more human approach to business.
What motivates you to do what you do, in the company and the industry?
There are many opportunities as well as challenges in the telecom industry, just like in any other sector. However, it is critical not to give up, and to have the will and confidence in yourself and your team, because (as Sylvester Stallone’s character Rocky Balboa said), “It’s not how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
After two decades in the business, I can say that reaching the top isn’t easy but believing in yourself and embracing change are always part of a successful business.
“believing in yourself and embracing change are always part of a successful business.”
What is your most significant achievement to date?
From a small, single-office company back in 1998, Monty Mobile has evolved to nine worldwide offices with more than 300 employees in the UK, Lebanon, UAE, Croatia, India, Fiji, Indonesia, Germany and Belgium.
We were pioneers in addressing the issue of international A2P (application to person) SMS monetisation in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and we are currently in a leading position in the region in terms of the SMS and roaming business, with more than 2,000 deals signed to date.
What are some challenges you’ve faced?
It was tough for an entrepreneur from the Middle East to enter international markets and gain the trust of operators everywhere. However, with a wisely built product portfolio, quality service and a seriously dedicated team, Monty Mobile has come a long way in the telecom business and is now proudly partnering with operators from all over the world and competing among the top players in the field.
What makes Monty Mobile stand out from its competitors?
Our primary mission at Monty is to help operators maximise revenue and to support them through innovative products. We are also ready to invest with them on different projects that have mutual benefits. We serve our clients with passion, experience and innovation.
What are your predictions for the industry’s future development?
Although innovation in the telecom industry seems to be getting rarer every day, I believe there are still many opportunities for the bold. All that is needed is an agile, lean approach where innovation is a must.
Mobile operators have lost opportunities when it comes to customer data, value-added services, mobile advertising and so on. Unfortunately, they are not utilising them in the right way. For example, social media players are making billions of dollars through mobile advertising, while the operators are doing nothing.
Operators are owners of a vast pool of customer data. If such data is monetised properly, through data analytics and customer profiling, operators can drive huge mobile advertising revenues.
What is your business philosophy?
Dream big and never give up. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is that the person with the most determination always wins, even though someone else might be ahead right now.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.