Based: Menlo Park, CA
Why it's Fierce: Sonopia founder Juha Christensen says the companyÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s mission is to "democratize" the carrier-subscriber dynamic in the U.S. by allowing any individual, company or organization to launch their own MVNO. Christensen was part of the founding team at Symbian and also ran Microsoft's mobile division before launching Sonopia. So, as quixotic as his new mission statement sounds, these are the words of a seasoned wireless veteran. Many of the MVNOs recently launched with the backing of incumbent service providers or content companies have either slowly bled money or flopped. Christensen contends that users and organizations will create the most successful niche brands and affinity groups that will power the next generation of MVNOs. User-generated content enablers fetched billions in 2006, a user-generated business could be similarly successful in the year ahead.
What to look for: Sonopia will continue to build out the social networking tools it provides to its MVNO partners by forging deals with some of the top innovators in the sector. Expect the company to raise more funding as it ramps up its clientele. Early clients will continue to be small groups of individuals as well as medium to large sized charity groups and nonprofits.