Interview with Pascal Prot - CEO of Legos: K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid

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K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid

SUCCESS Simplicity is the biggest disruptor

K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid Pascal Prot CEO of Legos


ascal Prot is the CEO and founder of Legos, a platform provider enabling the convergence of fixed and mobile voice, messages and data services. Being one of France’s VoIP pioneer, Pascal established this new innovative service provider with the aim of empowering entrepreneurs and creative companies to communicate openly, efficiently and simply. Having been launched in France in 2002, Legos is now a declared operator and MVNO in 20 countries and is continually expending its business in Asia and Europe. I recently had the opportunity to meet with him in Paris, to discuss the power of simplicity, creativity and perseverance.



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What do you think will be the next big disruptor in our industry? What apart from us? ; - ) Actually, I think that simplicity will be the biggest disruptor. For example, a growing number of our customers are looking to move towards a simpler business model and technological ecosystem, where all their services are transported over a single core IP infrastructure. This means they can in turn simplify their operations, requiring less people, systems and processes to operate their business. This also means more efficiency and agility – something that all fast moving innovative companies crave. This is significantly disrupting the telecom business and is giving companies such as Legos the opportunity to create a new simpler telecom world. We have always known that this was the way forward and have built our business on these principals.

What do you think will be the next big challenge? For sure the biggest challenge is moving and growing fast in an increasingly complex environment. This is doable in Europe and the Americas, however it becomes quite challenging when you are trying to expand in regions such as Asia and Middle East and Africa. These markets are fragmented and therefore addressing them rapidly is close to impossible. It is therefore crucial to focus your time and energy by targeting the right countries in terms of market potential and infrastructure

availability. You must also have the right economic and market conditions to address these opportunities successfully, while being able to comply to diverse regulatory and technological realities. Not an easy thing to achieve.

What do you think will be the next big opportunity? For us, the next big opportunity will be to expand our current simple business model globally quickly and efficiently. We have a successful business within France and are putting a lot of effort into expanding to other regions. But time is of the essence here, as someday, someone else will try to do the same. The window of opportunity is therefore quite small. What do you think makes the difference between a winner and a loser in our business? For sure the difference between a winner and a loser in our industry at the moment is to be bold enough to go with the simple. A loser will try to make things more complex in the hope that no one else can replicate it. But this is wrong. By nature, people want to sell the complex, but it is a mistake. It is much more powerful to sell the simple.

What is the best strategy for growth? As we all know, the big wholesale players see their revenue and margins declining rapidly and they are looking for solutions. For sure one of the solutions is consolidation. But it is CAPEX driven and complex. Once the big wholesalers have acquired their competitors, they must integrate the organizations and migrate their customer



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base, their network and technology and this takes time, energy and money - three things they don’t have. On the contrary, I think the way forward is to create organic growth through innovation, as we are doing at Legos. Not all companies are able to achieve this, but if you are agile and efficient enough, it is the obvious choice to generate growth. We have therefore taken a conscious decision to grow through innovation and not through acquisitions, as other are doing, and it is working well for us. THE SIMPLICITY OF LEGOS

For those who do not know Legos, can you tell us a bit more about what you do? At Legos, we offer the whole portfolio of services. From voice (fixed and mobile), to messaging and wholesale services, all white labelled. We do not do access, as this is not our core business, we leave that to others. We decided to focus on offering services on top of our partners’ access networks. Sometimes even operating a service platform on their behalf. Our service strategy is to move towards unified communication, offering converged services, either between fixed and mobile or through service bundled within a single connection. Our growth strategy also focuses on expanding our solutions globally, outside of our home market of France. On top of that, part of our mission is to play a key role in the bridging of the two worlds: the incumbent carrier and cloud over the top ecosystems. We are therefore involved within the GSMA and ITU to bring simplification



through the standardization of our industry to hopefully facilitate the interworking between carriers, cloud, and Unified Communication service providers. This is very important to us and part of our mission is to in some way make the lives of people around the world, easier through simple communication.

You mentioned that you are in the middle of an expansion plan. Can you elaborate on that? We are currently expanding our services within 20 countries in Europe and we are well on our way to achieving this. We are a declared operator in each of these countries and are now working on signing partnership agreements to deploy our MVNO business model, as well as our carrier solutions. Our model has been very successful for us in the French market, so we are working on replicating it in other countries. By the end of the year we are aiming to have expanded into a total of 50 countries in Europe and Asia. We will not stop there obviously and are looking to continue this growth plan into 2020. What is amazing is that we are achieving all this with a 20-people company. This is possible because we are always aiming to deliver solutions using the simplest processes, strategy and business model. As I said early, simplicity is very powerful and empowers you to achieve a lot with very little. I believe it is the first time in telecom’s history that something like that can be achieved by a modest organization such as Legos. You don’t need complex shareholding structures

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or heavy capex projects anymore to get this done. It is very exciting.

In one word, what is your main differentiator? Agility, speed, boldness and KISS – We keep it simple.

Being an MVNO yourself, what do you think is so good about the MNVO business model? Initially, MVNOs were seen as a threat to MNOs, as regulators wanted to create more competition in the market by allowing these new players to offer mobile services. This has given MVNOs a bad reputation in some way, as they were perceived as low cost, low quality mobile providers. However, the consolidation of the market created a small number of strong MVNOs focused on meaningful market niches or specialized solutions. This transformed the MNO-MVNO dynamic into a win-win partnership. MNOs benefit from servicing MVNOs who are experts in addressing specific markets more efficiently, while the MVNOs also benefit from strong MNO partnerships to differentiate from their competitors.

What is your secret in creating a dynamic environment within your own team?

brings a lot of diversity to our team. It is important to me that our people bring varied points of view, that we do not all think in the same way or address problems in the same manner. In Legos, we create value from our differences and our customers see value in that. THE SIMPLICITY OF SUCCESS

What do you find the most challenging in your role as an industry leader? What is challenging is to always keep a leveled head, stay focused on our DNA, what we know and what we are good at and not get sidetracked and excited about the wrong opportunity.

What is the best advice you wish to pass on to our readers to achieve success in our business? At the beginning to be successful you must embrace boldness and then perseverance. Finally, you must keep believing in your ideas. If you follow these three principles, you will not only succeed, but most importantly you will be happy.

We build our peoples’ skills internally. We hire people from multiple age groups, background and cultures, not necessarily with many years of telecom experience. This creates a very rich environment at all levels and enables us to hire unique people who are bright, curious, creative and who embrace diversity. For example, the latest addition to our team is a young Peruvian who lived in Spain and recently moved to France. Someone like that



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Isabelle Paradis President, HOT TELECOM Isabelle is President and Founder of HOT TELECOM, one of the most innovative and creative telecom research and consulting companies in the industry. More recently, Isabelle has been working with many of the world’s telecom service providers to help them define their transformation strategy. She has published several articles and reports on the subject and has spoken at numerous conferences around the world to share her views on the future of the international telecoms business.

ABOUT LEGOS We unlock the power of Telecoms. Ideas drive Telecoms forward. New ideas will help us to bridge the gap between each of us. At Legos, we highly value the Telecom pioneers that brought us the breakthrough ideas of the past. Consequently, our mission is to help the future great ideas to arise. To bring their ideas to life, innovators need to access the full power of Telecoms: they need to access the full capacity of the network, the best technologies available and the experience of other pioneers. It is the best way to win the race of novelty. Legos provides them with the tools and advices to unlock the power of Telecoms. We will share our infrastructure, our experience and our passion with those who dare to innovate. To learn more, please visit



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