While we usually have our eyes on mobile applications that leverage the shiniest new hardware, we shouldn't forget the companies that have tapped markets that are way off our radar. Lithuania-based Eskimi has now grown to 7 million users by creating a feature-phone based social network that has seen huge popularity in parts of Africa. Things are picking up quickly for the social network; last month Eskimi saw their service grow by 1 million users. More than 80% of the Eskimi customer base has grown organically.
"We understand that most of the mobile browsing audience is still on the simple devices and this will stay for the few years. There are a lot of people coming to the market and start using mobile internet – they use the old phones," says Vytas Paukstys, CEO of Eskimi.
Eskimi's largest markets are Nigeria, Ghana, Vietnam, and Indonesia, and users of the service can browse profiles, chat, share photos, discuss in forums, and share their interests. User engagement metrics show that the average user spends one hour a day on the the social network.
On the business side of things, Eskimi sells marketing solutions targeting the FMCG sector, sales promotional, branding campaigns. Again, the company is hitting huge numbers; they tell us that recently they hit 1 billion monthly ad impressions.
Eskimi is also supporting the Cashless Nigeria Project, where the company has developed and tested customer acquisition tools for mobile money operators. Nigeria might be an interesting country to watch when it comes to mobile payments. Due to the country's obscene inflation rate, Nigeria wishes to reduce the amount of physical currency in the economy due to the high cost of printing and transporting the bills.
Eskimi was launched as a simple mobile web chat service, but later repositioned the product and functions into more of a social network where users can meet new people. The product is still being developed in Vilnius, Lithuania, and is now recruiting sales teams in Nigeria, Ghana, and other markets.