Interview with Skipmenu, an app that kills all hotlines

Skipmenu is the app that kills all hotlines. According to them they are the “fastest, easiest way to call customer service.” Here’s an interview with their founders. Skipmenu has mapped over 800 hotlines from corporations in Hong Kong, including consumer “favourites” like HSBC, Bank of China, Standard Chartered, DBS, Manulife, AXA, AIA, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Octopus, MTR, PCCW, ThreeHK, China Mobile, SF Express, and Hong Kong Immigration Department.

skipmenuTell us about Skipmenu and how the idea came about?
Skipmenu helps callers skip the automated audio phone menu of company hotlines by showing it on the smartphone screen, helping them connect 7X faster to customer service.

Gabriel (our co-founder) and his startup friend came up with it because ordering pizza by phone was really annoying. His friend was diagnosed with a serious illness and needed to call lots of companies using badly-designed IVRs. Luckily, both had exited their previous startup. This inspired a serious look at business potential, marketing, distribution, and technical feasibility.

Who is the team behind Skipmenu ?
We’re a team of hackers and hustlers from Canada and Hong Kong. We’ve been building apps and businesses since we were teenagers. And we all hate the automated phone menu.

skipmenuskipmenuHow does it work ? Who would benefit from using this app?
The user just selects one of 800+ customer service numbers on the Skipmenu app. The corresponding visual phone menu pops up, allowing the caller to see and rapidly tap through the options, instead of hearing endless lists of robot voice prompts.  Skipmenu then dials with the required key presses, taking the caller straight to their destination (usually a human rep)!

If you’re a smartphone user who needs to call companies, you’ll love Skipmenu. You never know when you’ll get lost in the hotline menu calling for something that must be done via phone, especially in stressful situations like changing a flight or reporting a lost credit card.

Tell us about the experience building the app 
We all have technical experience and we designed the app and supporting infrastructure over 18 months. Skipmenu had an international focus since day one. In fact, when it started, one founder was in Germany and the other was in Canada. The entire thing was developed from a remote team. This is not recommended for new startups, but our team has had a long history together, so we had already established a communications culture and protocols in place.

How are you promoting the app?
We’re promoting Skipmenu mostly online and through word-of mouth. Everyone loves our mascot, Skippy, a bunny that loves to skip phone menus.

The app is free, what’s your monetization strategy?
The answer depends on which industry and which region of the world we are working with. We are not at the liberty to disclose details at the moment.

What do you think of the Startup community in Hong Kong?
For a society that has reinvented itself from being a trading hub to a manufacturing hub to a financial hub, HK definitely has the prerequisite of entrepreneurial spirit, especially the get-stuff-done-asap attitude of its people. But society is also disappointingly low tech compared to neighbours Shenzhen and Singapore. If HK wishes to reinvent itself as a tech startup hub, the government needs to make bold moves to support tech innovation, and the VC community needs to stop thinking in real estate terms and look further than a couple quarters for an ROI.

What’s next for Skipmenu?
No one should waste time, money or frustration listening to phone menus! We have extensive coverage of company phone numbers in Canada and Hong Kong. We want to take Skipmenu worldwide, and we are working with partners spanning several industries to make it happen.

What are 3 things you want consumers to remember about your company?
1. Skipmenu is lightweight, secure, and useful when you least expect it. Download and keep it. You won’t regret it.
2. Your time is precious and your airtime is expensive — Skipmenu saves both!
3. We’re all ears for user feedback! So if you have a suggestion or comment about Skipmenu, don’t hesitate to get in touch at skipmenu.com.


Interview by Ludivine Taverne

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