Paris-based startup Miyowa enlisted the support of European Union Grants Advisor (EUGA) and successfully applied for government funding to develop next-generation solutions for mobile instant messaging.
Grant funding helps instant messaging startup go global
Founded in 2003, Miyowa is now a global company whose next-generation solutions for mobile instant messaging (MIM) help service providers liberate their networks and deliver aggregated rich content and services to users. Indeed, Miyowa has built on its early success in MIM—an industry still in its infancy—to give consumers access to all their social networking desktop applications anywhere at any time.
With operations in France, the UK and Taiwan, Miyowa is expanding into the United States and further into Asia. In September 2008, telecommunications operator Virgin Mobile France became its 21st customer.
Pascal Lorne, Chief Executive Officer of Miyowa, says: “The fact that Virgin Mobile France - the country's fourth-largest mobile operator - has now come on board proves that our technology is highly reputed and trusted, and serves the needs of today's market.”
In its formative stages, Miyowa was part of the Microsoft® Programme for ISV Development and Ecosystem Acceleration with a focus on Start Ups (IDEAS). This programme provides consultancy services to small businesses to help them develop and market new products.
In 2005, Miyowa wanted to offer a superior mobile experience to users—to provide mobile handset makers with a premium messaging service in addition to their data plans and devices, without the need to enter restrictive relationships with social networks and IM providers. To underpin the strategy, the company needed €608,000 to recruit experts and carry out extensive research and development on rich media mobile applications. The Microsoft IDEAS team advised Miyowa to seek funding from the French government by applying through EUGA.
EUGA, developed by Microsoft in partnership with Intel and HP, collaborates with local consortium members, such as banks and chambers of commerce, to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) better understand and use European Union funding opportunities at international, national, and regional levels.
“We were surprised that a startup company like us could get so much support. EUGA helped us prepare a strong case for the funding application and we received the grant within just five months.”
Ann Luu, Chief Finance Officer, Miyowa
First, EUGA ascertained which grants Miyowa was qualified to receive. Then it helped the company approach the French Ministry of Finance with a robust funding proposal. As a result, in 2006, Miyowa received a tax break— equivalent to around one third of its research and development budget.
In 2006, Miyowa was also awarded the Young Innovative Enterprise status by the Ministry of Science and Research in France. The award is based on the company's efforts in technology R&D and innovation and makes Miyowa eligible for further tax breaks.
By the end of 2007, Miyowa had become the fastest growing company in the MIM industry, winning more operator contracts than any other competitor. After engaging new specialist staff due to the grant funding, it created the first handset-independent client messaging products, called MoveMessenger and MoveMail. These breakthrough technologies provide mobile operators and communities with Mobile Web 2.0 IM related content and services.
Other innovations have followed: for instance, in 2008, Miyowa introduced InTouch 5, a unique messaging application that integrates the mobile address book with social presence information, MIM, mail, user-generated content, file sharing, location services, and mobile advertising.
These achievements are based on the solid foundation of research and development funded through EUGA. Francois Colon, Miyowa Co-Founder and Technical Director, says: “Availability of funds early on in business development was crucial for long-term success. Thanks to EUGA, we could establish key research and development infrastructure and operational processes as well as hire industry experts. And in the following years, this previously established infrastructure has helped us develop groundbreaking technologies such as InTouch 5 for continued business growth.”
In 2005, Miyowa had 5 employees and an annual turnover of €500,000. The company predicts that, by 2009, it will have €8 million turnover and a workforce of around 90 people. And, In January 2008, Miyowa was cited as the Global Industry Leader for Mobile IM by Mobile Messaging Analyst—a research service delivering information on technology launches, developments, and regional market performances.