If you still think of Taïg Khris as a triple world champion in vertical skating, an X-Games winner or a Guinness World Record holder, think again. The French daredevil is no longer jumping from the first floor of the Eiffel Tower on rollerblades but has been making a new name for himself in the past years as founder and CEO of the flourishing telecom startup onoff. It was therefore no surprise to find him at the launch of Tomorrow Street earlier this autumn. Ever an enthusiast and no less bolder than in his slightly younger days, Taïg Khris even wooed Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel the minute the prime minister arrived at the opening reception and spent long minutes demonstrating his app for him.
(Featured Image: Taïg Khris, CEO & Founder of onoff : / Image Credit © Olivier Minaire)
The onoff app – described as a combination of the reliability of a telecom operator and the agility of a mobile application – “virtualizes” phone numbers by storing them in the cloud. This means users can have instant access to multiple phone numbers from different countries and retrieve them from any smartphone or computer. We had a chat with Taïg Khris to get the latest news and find out why he might soon settle in Luxembourg.
How far along is onoff today?
Globally speaking, we are in an intense phase of technological development and of opening up countries. Today, we offer phone numbers from over 30 countries and our onoff app makes it possible to make calls and send text messages in, and to, the whole world. We are already the cheapest service for international calls. No matter where you are, our service is cheaper than Skype, Viber and any network operator. We are constantly improving our technology and developing new features and I was lucky to add several new patents this summer, which are currently being inserted into the application. We have also partnered with operators like SFR and the Altice group, and more recently with Ooredoo. My aim is to make this company a global mobile operator. We’ll need a lot more work, time and financial investment to get there. But I honestly believe we have something amazing in our hands, even though there is still a long way to go.
“We obviously want our company to be a success but more than anything we want to revolutionize the way phones are used worldwide in such a way that in a few years, the normal thing will be to have phone numbers accessible from the cloud.”
What are your plans for the future?
During the next couple of months we will no doubt start advertising and promoting our product. We have reached a point where our technology is mature enough for that. In a more distant future, the plan is to truly change the way everyone uses mobile phones. Today, everyone has a phone number stuck inside a SIM card. It doesn’t make sense, because everything else is stored in the cloud: our emails, our music, our files… Storing your phone number in the cloud opens up for so many more possibilities and uses. You can have several numbers and switch them on and off as you like, pay less for your international calls, access your number anywhere and from any device… We obviously want our company to be a success but more than anything we want to revolutionize the way phones are used worldwide in such a way that in a few years, the normal thing will be to have phone numbers accessible from the cloud.
Where do Luxembourg, Tomorrow Street and Vodafone fit in?
It was great to be at the opening of Tomorrow Street and it would of course be incredible for onoff to work with the largest mobile operator in the world and even more so within the Tomorrow Street structure. The whole concept where startups are helped and given access to Vodafone’s millions of clients is fantastic – who wouldn’t want to be a part of it? Nothing has been finalized in this sense though and I’m not sure yet if we’ll be able to work with Vodafone. But if it’s confirmed I would be delighted to move to Luxembourg. I’ve been told so many positive things about the country and from what I’ve seen during my previous visits to the capital, it’s a dynamic city, and a very beautiful one too. Having an office in Tomorrow Street and being able to launch onoff’s next steps from there would be huge.
“I wouldn’t have been able to surround myself with the incredible team of 45 professionals who have worked for years to build the technology.”
What does a startup need to continue to thrive?
There are many different types of startups so there’s not one single recipe. However, there’s no escaping the financial aspect. Even the best idea in the world needs funding to succeed. I would never have been able to develop my idea if I hadn’t managed to raise millions of Euros of capital. I wouldn’t have been able to surround myself with the incredible team of 45 professionals who have worked for years to build the technology. Of course, money isn’t everything. You also have to think outside the box and find that perfect innovative idea that works. You have to find the right team who knows how to develop it and create the best user experience. And you have to know how to sell it. If you can’t stage it and sell it, it won’t work.