Sonopia Corp. allows any organization or club to start a wireless company “in 15 minutes or less” online. The company, based in Menlo Park, Calif., has signed up nearly 900 organizations to create their own service, with relevant features, news and content for members of their respective groups.
Sonopia helps each organization design custom phones based on existing handset models from major manufacturers, and it helps the groups lease network access from Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, to carry phone calls and data. Sonopia also manages monthly billing and customer service.
Most of the micro-niche providers aren’t in it for the money — and that’s a good thing, considering they only get about 3% to 8% of the revenue from monthly service plans. The rest goes to Verizon and Sonopia. Instead, most of the groups use the service as a self-sustaining way to promote themselves or their causes and keep members or customers engaged.