A month ago in Barcelona I met with one of the founders of Roamer, a clever SIM hack/app that allows you to bring your own phone number along with you around the world. The company raised £300,000 in December and is closing a £1 million with the Angel Co-fund and UK Angels.
So how does it work? The Roamer app allows you to make calls cheaply anywhere in the world. When you’re ready to travel, you tell Roamer your local, home phone number and then buy an international SIM card. Any calls to your home number are forwarded to a local number in the country you’re visiting and you answer them just as you would at home, paying local rates instead of exorbitant roaming ones.
The founding team, Simon Rabin, Petr Antropov and Nick Ustinov, all have experience in European telecom startups, and Rabin created one of the first mobile checkout apps called Txt2Buy. Ustinov founded inbox.lv, Latvia’s first big exit.
The idea is fairly compelling – you basically subvert roaming charges with a few clever hacks – and it’s great for Europeans abroad. The company is working on a version for the U.S. and will start shipping SIMs for users who don’t want to mess with picking up local cards. They have about 3,000 users and processed 250,000 minutes of calls so far.
The company hopes to disrupt companies like HolidayPhone who simply send you a SIM card before you leave for your trip. Because your calls are routed to your local SIM, for example, loved ones can stay in touch no matter where you are.
Roaming charges are usually onerous, and this makes them less so. It’s an interesting small startup and definitely an interesting idea.