Verizon’s Visible: Ushering in a new era of D2C Mobile Services

Corporate Startup of the Week

Choosing the right mobile services provider and the right plan can be a daunting experience – the process is notoriously confusing and often requires a lot of time, research and guesswork from customers.

You have to watch out for hidden fees, service limitations and hope that the company’s customer reps can actually help you navigate any challenges you might encounter along the way. This without mentioning how cumbersome it is to be locked into a long-term contract that you have to physically sign at your local branch. 

We’ve all wished for a simpler and more efficient process at one point or another – and now, it’s finally arrived!

Meet Visible, by Verizon: A fully-digital mobile service provider that offers unlimited data, minutes, and messaging all for a flat fee of $40 a month. One straight-forward plan, no hidden fees, and no long-term contracts. Ready to know more?

Let’s start with a little background on Verizon.

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About Verizon Wireless.

Aside from being the 2nd biggest telecom provider in the U.S. and having generated $131.9 bn in revenues for 2019, Verizon has also won quite a few impressive awards:

  • This year RootMetrics awarded Verizon with its highest overall network performance award.
  • They were also named the #1 provider in terms of network quality by J.D. Power.

In fact, according to an article by WhistleOut, Verizon offers the best coverage in the U.S., covering 70% of the country with its 4G LTE network (the same network used by Visible, but more on that later).

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Verizon was also the first company in the world to launch a commercial 5G mobile network.

With all these successful endeavors under their belt, why create a company that actually competes with them for clients?

The thinking behind Visible.

Like many corporate leaders today, Verizon has done its fair share of research into what customers really want from their mobile services providers. The results were quite telling:

  • Subscription-based models were popular with customers (vs contract-based).
  • Digital services were preferred over having to go to a physical store.
  • Customers are demanding services that are simple, direct and transparent. 

It was time to build a service that cuts through all the noise of traditional mobile plans and delivers what customers are actually looking for – that’s how the concept behind Visible was born. It took roughly 2 years to conduct the needed research, co-create the concept with customers, and get to the “go-to-market” phase. 

When asked about the risks of creating a business that competes with Verizon, Visible C.E.O. Miguel Quiroga explained:

“It’s really about presenting an offer into the market that tightly meets that particular segment and allows us to build the type of product experience we’re looking to achieve. That’s why we are where we are and why we’ve come to market the way we have.”

In other words, despite having created a potential competitor, Visible can help Verizon more accurately meet client demand with a direct, transparent experience.

So what is Visible and how does it work?

Visible is an all-digital mobile services provider that simplifies things by offering one sole plan with unlimited talk, text, data, and hotspots. Its plan requires no annual contract, has no hidden fees and even taxes are already baked into the final price of $40 a month. 

This is quite refreshing compared to more traditional providers offering a plethora of overcomplicated and significantly more expensive plans.

Every aspect of the plan can be managed through the Visible app, making it easier for customers to sign up, order what they need and even terminate their plans at any time from anywhere. 

But what really makes Visible a sweet deal is that it uses Verizon’s highly praised 4G LTE network which has the highest coverage in the U.S. compared to other providers:

  • Verizon: 70% 4G coverage
  • T-Mobile: 59% 4G coverage
  • AT&T: 58% 4G coverage
  • Sprint: 27% 4G coverage

They even have a Pay Party option where groups of customers (you can sign up with friends or family or even strangers to form a “party”) can access the plan for less money (e.g. groups of 2 pay $35 each per month, groups of 3 pay $30 and groups of 4 pay $25).

You can even use your old phone (if it’s compatible) or buy a new one through the Visible website. Choose from brands like Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, LG, Motorola, Google Pixel or Visible’s own R2 phone.

Why D2C?

Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands have been taking the world by storm for a few years now (e.g. Away, Bark Box, Blue Apron and Harry’s) with several factors contributing to their success:

  • They’re 100% digital.
  • They personalize their products.
  • They have meaningful values and they advocate for their customers.
  • They save money by cutting out the middleman.
  • They’re simpler, more direct and more transparent than traditional brands.  

With more and more customers looking for these traits in providers, it isn’t surprising that Visible opted to use the D2C model to bring their offering to the market. According to Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Minjae Ormes, Visible was looking to challenge traditional industry conventions, create a sense of community among customers and leverage D2C thinking to reach a whole new subset of customers.

What’s next?

Visible is still going strong today, providing its customers with well priced, no-frills and easy as pie mobile services. In fact, the company made WhistleOut’s Best Prepaid Phone Plans for March 2020 list and they ranked #4 in Fast Company’s 10 Most Innovative Consumer Electronics Companies in 2020.

The company even has its own accelerator program “Visible Connect” aimed at supporting nonprofits that are tackling critical issues like hunger, homelessness and affordable medicine through mobile technology. We know they’re going to accomplish great things with this amazing initiative.

As for Verizon, we’re waiting with bated breath for the full roll-out of their 5G network. Lots of exciting ventures will surely follow!

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Ritza Suazo

Ritza Suazo

Innovation Journalist