Daniel Neal kajeet Interview
Hear What The Founder & CEO Has To Say About Cell Phones For Kids!
contract-free cell phone service that helps
parents and kids use cell phones responsibly while having fun at the
The tools kajeet offers are valuable, and unlike anything available
other service in the U.S. Daniel Neal,
CEO and founder, was kind enough to allow Prepaid-Wireless-Guide.com to
his brain in the following interview.
Thank you, Daniel!
A lot of us think about services we’d like to see, but most
people don’t go out
and start a company to deliver it ourselves!
What motivated you to enter the mobile wireless space?
My own children were – and are - my
motivation to create a great mobile service for kids and those who love
them. I wanted to
design a service that gives kids
access to powerful mobile technologies in a way that their parents
comfortable with and support. I
never say that every kid should have a cell phone (even if every child
want one). I belong
to the school of
thought that believes parents almost always know what’s best
kids. If they
believe their child is
ready for a cell phone, and that it will provide value and benefit to
family, then I want to provide access to help them safely explore the
new world of mobile technology. I
my kids, as well as others, to be agile and have fun with technology
What’s kajeet’s target demographic, and how did you
choose that range?
[Neal] Kajeet’s target demographic
is 8-16 (the tween
and teen market). We chose this demographic because we wanted to
service to a growing number of tweens and teens that needed safety
a cell phone without binding their parents to a contract. We also knew
this demographic represents a growing market. Approximately 60% of
kids own cell phones. 38% of kids between 8 and 11 get prepaid phones
of kids between 12 and 14 get prepaid phones.
We know this to be the case because parents do not want to
expensive long-term commitments to the contracts with hidden gotchas
the big carriers.
What makes kajeet unique from other prepaid offerings?
is the only contract-free carrier
in the U.S.
that offers parental controls
for no extra charge. Our
controls include a Wallet Manager, Time Manager, Contact Manager, and
Manager. We are the
only contract-free cell phone
service in the U.S.
to offer GPS Phone Locator (there
is a cost for this service). In
addition, I’m very proud of the fact that kajeet is the only cell phone service of any kind to
have one the prestigious
Parent Tested Parent Approved award.
We’re designed for kids - and the parents of
mobile kids – from the
inside out. This
makes us unique and
I understand you’re an MVNO on the Sprint network; do you
customize the handset
itself, or is the customization of your services on the backend?
customize the services with our
parental controls through our web-based portal which interacts with the
to control the amount of use (for budgeting), to deliver call, message
feature controls (for security), and to provide calendar controls
block access to services during school hours).
We also offer unique content and services on the handset
through our Mobile
Web portal - the kajeet Navigator - including kid-appropriate content
free Green-Tips-for-Kids channel. We attempt to limit the actual
of the handset so we can get new handsets to market quickly and provide
affordable solutions for parents and kids.
I see that you offer refurbished handsets?
The prices are really great.
Other than the phone having been previously used, does the
up anything (ex. quality, durability) by purchasing a refurbished phone?
[Neal] A customer does not give up
quality or durability when they purchase a refurbished phone.
refurbished phone from kajeet allows customers to save money and reuse
that could have possibly been wasted.
call these our “pre-loved” phones –
because they are!
How do parents and kids add money to WalletManager?
Can money be moved between “wallets”?
offers three ways to add
money to your wallet. Customers
a credit/debit card to their account to make refilling easy. A kajeet customer can also
set up automatic
refills. We also
offer PayPal refills if
you want to use your checking account to add money to the Wallet
wallet also allows money to be moved between wallets, so parents can
how much money they want to include in their child’s wallet. I give each of my own kids
a “phone allowance”
each month. I then
keep extra money in
my own Parent Wallet, so that, even if they spend all of their phone
there’s still money available to enable me to reach them and
them to reach me.
The MVNO model has proven to be extremely challenging, with a number of
companies declaring bankruptcy in 2007 and 2008, and many others who
like to have my son (he’s
only 4 months old) use kajeet when he’s old enough to have a
cell phone. How is
kajeet structured to ensure that the
company will be sustainable for the foreseeable future?
[Neal] We are a small company that has benefited
this year from a shift in 2008 from national brick and mortar retail to
& online sales. Happily,
retail spending was up 24% in the 2008 holiday season
(ComScore). We are
also in the sweet spot of mobile, as our offering is a value-based
offering for kids. While parents have always purchased more
their kids, the trend in today’s economy is that parents and
others are moving
to prepaid in ever-greater numbers. Prepaid drove 26.5% of
subscribers in 2008 and is projected to drive 45.9% in 2009 (Strategy
understands that as
the economy and world changes, we have to adjust to those changes. Kajeet has made adjustments
where needed, and
we will continue to make necessary adjustments.
With all of the child-related crimes that surround us everyday, the GPS
is a great safeguard. How
do you ensure
that this feature is not abused by using it to infringe on
customers can only access the
GPS feature from a phone with internet access or a computer. The GPS account is only
accessible using a
PIN created by the customer to access the account. We do not provide
customer information to anyone besides the customer, including law
unless they have a valid warrant.
things, we at kajeet have taken great measures to secure the privacy
security of our customers. I
this makes us special, too.
Do you have a migration program to keep kids with you as they grow
We’re finding that once kids and
parents get kajeet and understand why we’re different, they
stay with us for a
long time. We do
not have a ‘migration’
program, as such. However,
considering launching new programs or brands that will provide us with
broader reach in the market. And,
course, kajeet is always looking at different opportunities for
you find that parents are so familiar with your service, and like it so
that they use kajeet for themselves as well?
some cases we do find that
parents use kajeet themselves. The services were developed for tweens
teens, but we like to see when parents decide to use a kajeet phone
also. Kajeet offers
a great service at a great
value, without any of the burdens and hidden costs of having a contract. So, when we hear that a
parent uses the
service, we’re not surprised!
many customers do you currently have?
my wife doesn’t know this…
you see any smartphones or touch screen phones being added to your
lineup in the future?
In the future, we will consider
smartphones and touchscreen phones available for use on the Sprint
digital network. That
said, we are
pleased with our current handset line-up. Our
phones range from a high end QWERTY phone
with Bluetooth, MP3, and a camcorder in multiple colors, to a $19.99
refurbished phone that looks and works like new.
Our customers tell us that we offer exactly
what parents are looking for their tweens and teens, which is a cool
great features that is also affordable.
Affordability is critical in our times.
Prepaid mobile broadband is a market that’s really heating
up, and carriers are
planning on offering wireless enabled netbooks as part of their
you see kajeet offering such a product,
which would include parental controls for the Internet?
are looking at opportunities
that would allow us to expand our parental control offering beyond the
phone market. Again, kajeet is always looking at different
we can expand and grow.
do you see the prepaid market five years from now?
the current rate of growth it
is likely the prepaid wireless industry will encompass 35% to 45% of the world
wireless market in five
years. We will see many changes in the industry in the next five years.
there anything else that you think people should know about kajeet?
that we’re passionate. We’re
a small company with a big opportunity
before us. And we
all feel privileged to
provide a service that helps parents and kids, including our own.