Tanveer Sharif is CEO and co-founder of Vopium. He is responsible for overall management of the company including relations with partners and investors. Tanveer has previously been the managing director of Øresund Venture Cup, member of the Regional Council of Copenhagen. He is an alumnus of Copenhagen Business School (CBS), ESC Rouen and Singapore Institute of Management.
Vopium provides an innovative mobile application for very inexpensive, easy international calling, filling an increasing market need and growing rapidly. With more than one million customers in more than 50 countries, Vopium is taking advantage of Voice over IP (VoIP) and wireless technologies to save consumers and businesses up to 94 percent on local and international mobile calls. Its app, downloaded for free, works on more than 900 mobile phone models — including smartphones and feature phones – and provides “local” call quality. Vopium is listed on the NYSE Euronext Paris Exchange.
MO: Can you explain to our readers how Vopium works and how it’s able to remain so incredibly inexpensive?
Tanveer: Vopium’s application automatically integrates with your phone contacts and dialer. When you dial an international number, it detects the number and gives you the cheapest option for making an international call whether it be from your 3G/Wi-Fi connection or a local access number. Through our partnerships with other carriers and intelligent routing, we are able to keep Vopium calls incredibly inexpensive.
MO: What features makes Vopium different from or better than Skype?
Tanveer: Skype is essentially a desktop client while Vopium is mainly built for your mobile phone. Unlike Skype, Vopium keeps running in the background and you don’t have to login every time. Once you register with Vopium, you don’t have to provide your username and password every time you want to make a call. Additionally, Vopium gives you an option of making a call through a local access number wherever there’s no 3G or Wi-Fi connection. And last but not least, Vopium offers much better voice quality than Skype.
MO: How did you come up with the name Vopium?
Tanveer: We were thinking of VoIP calling, and ‘Vopium’ came to our minds instinctively.
MO: What’s the biggest challenge you currently face in the telecommunications market?
Tanveer: The biggest challenge is also the biggest opportunity. More and more mainstream operators are taking an interest in VoIP telephony and seeking to gain a share of this market. This will not only help them increase their user bases but also help them reduce infrastructure costs significantly. Vopium can help these operators with our white-label solutions, co-branding and other B2B options.
MO: Vopium was awarded the title of Essential Android App 2010 by CNET UK and the MIT Enterprise Forum’s Business Acceleration Plan Competition in 2011. How does it feel to be recognized in your industry and how do awards such as these shape the direction of the company?
Tanveer: It feels great to be recognized by voices that matter in the industry. These awards and wins have helped Vopium establish its brand presence in industry circles and enabled us to network with partners, VC managers and other players for prospective collaborations.
MO: What are the most exciting developments on the horizon for Vopium for 2102?
Tanveer: We are revamping our applications and recently launched the first Wi-Fi calling application for BlackBerry devices. Building on this industry first, we plan to keep the innovation wheel rolling. Additionally, we intend to tap specific user segments and provide customized packages according to their communication needs.
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