When it was formed in 2004 by three former employees of the mobile-phone company O2,Mobile Interactive Group’s sole purpose was to become one of the most exciting businesses in its sector. The London company appears to be well on track to achieving this, delivering growth of 422% a year from £252,000 in 2005 to £35.9m in 2008.
When they were at O2, MIG’s founders had built the company’s interactive services division. When this was downsized, Barry Houlihan, MIG’s managing director, Anthony Nelson and Nick Aldridge took redundancy and set up MIGwith a £125,000 loan and £250,000 from two business angels.
The company’s first big success was to develop O2’s text-based competition for 150,000 free tickets to Bob Geldof’s Live 8 concert in 2005, for which 2.1m text-message entries were received in seven days. The campaign raised £3m for Live 8 and, with winners picking up tickets from O2 outlets, considerably increased footfall for O2.
MIG’s biggest customer is still O2, and it provides interactive services for the O2 arena, previously known as the Millennium Dome. Customers of the O2 mobile phone firm can get preferential entry to the arena, go into the Blueroom bar, vote for tracks to be played, the ambient lighting and visuals to be changed, and superimpose themselves on videos of performers, all using their mobile phones.
MIG’s other customers include ITV, Five, Virgin Mobile, Walkers Crisps, Sony BMG, MTV and Honda. MIG provides services that range from voting – the company runs the text voting for The X-Factor – to billing websites for mobiles and marketing.
The company has recently secured a contract with Shelter, which will use MIG’s mobile messaging platform Midas to increase loyalty and retention of direct-debit customers by sending monthly thank-you messages. In the past year it has also signed a deal with Five to provide mobile interactive services for flagship television programmes such as The Gadget Show and Fifth Gear.
The company also owns 75% of 4th Screen Advertising, a mobile advertising agency, and 56% of Jigsaw, a multi-platform digital interactive agency. This summer Jigsaw was responsible for running the Walkers Crisps loyalty programme Brit Trips, which involved consumers collecting points to earn days out in Britain.
Houlihan is in the process of launching an “experience” design agency and has plans for a “next generation mobile business”. The company says it is planning further international expansion, having recently established a presence in Seattle.
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