Toku — will it be a market disrupter?
By Zafar Anjum February 14, 2017
- Toku uses an advanced algorithm to select the most cost effective option to connect a caller
- GlobalRoam has seven active patent families that are protected in four continents
GlobalRoam has unveiled Toku with many innovative features. Will it disrupt the calling apps market? We present an exclusive interview with Thomas Laboulle (pic), the CEO of Singapore-based GlobalRoam. He talks about why Toku is so special and what promises it holds.
THERE are millions of apps today and the news of the launch of yet another app is usually not that exciting, that too in the telecom space, where the market is saturated with apps like Whatsapp, Skype, WeChat, and Viber, just to name a few.
But when Singapore-based technology company GlobalRoam Group Limited announced recently that it has cracked the perennial problem of business travellers – how to stay “always on”, that too by slashing costs by as much as 90%, one had to take note.
GlobalRoam launched a calling app in January this year called, ‘Toku’, which uses an advanced algorithm to automatically select the most cost effective option to connect a caller even if he or she is overseas – helping the traveller avoid high roaming charges.
Toku is developed by local telecom services firm GlobalRoam Group, which is helmed by Thomas Laboulle, a Belgian tech entrepreneur and former Nato and United Nations soldier. Headquartered in Singapore, GlobalRoam offers Integrated Communication.
The genesis of Toku
Laboulle was spent long years in the consulting business which was always related to technology, going from the implementation of SAP and Microsoft products to developing new models for recent industries like mobile payments. He moved from Belgium to Singapore in 2014. The GlobalRoam board approached him in early 2016. They wanted to change the management. The founder and the CEO of the company wanted to focus on other tasks. Things worked out fine and he officially joined the company on July 1, 2016.
When he joined the company, he found that all the R&D work had not been sufficiently used commercially. Together with the management, he took a decision to merge the technologies that were available and present a new product for the market, and that’s how Toku was born.
“The development of Toku was very fast,” he said. “We took a decision at the end of August last year and we soft-launched the app as an MVP (minimum viable product) in December. So, in less than four months, we actually did full development from scratch. We had patents on which we could rely, and we also switched to Microservices architecture.”
Established in 2001, research and development is the DNA of the company, Laboulle told DNA in an exclusive interview. “The focus of our staff is to innovate in the telecom space.” It is worth mentioning here that GlobalRoam has seven active patent families in, amongst others, the field of anonymous calling and one-click calling that are protected in four continents.
The company has an office in Chengdu, China, where most of the R&D takes place. There is a technical team in Singapore too. There are nearly 30 staff members in Singapore and 45 in Chengdu, where the app was developed.
“Development is fast-paced and our team is able to release updates every two weeks,” he said. “That’s what we intend to do to bring new features very fast to the public.”
Next page: Why Tokuu above all others?