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Summary:

The country’s first multilevel marketer in mobile Solavei is building a merchant rewards network for its members. It’s the MVNO’s first step — but not its last — toward expanding its Amway-like business model beyond wireless.

Solavei Visa card

Over the last year, mobile virtual network operator Solavei has built a slick multilevel marketing operation around wireless, encouraging its customers to sell its mobile service on its behalf in exchange for cash. For every three new customers members sign up, they get $20 a month knocked off their bill or deposited on a prepaid Visa card. Now Solavei is sweetening the pot.

On Wednesday it launched Marketplace, a network of 16,000 retailers and merchants that will give Solavei discounts on goods and services if they pay with their Solavei cards. The network is managed by payment processor First Data and includes Old Navy, Target and Starbucks along with other national chains and thousands of independent stores and restaurants.

Solavei is definitely starting to increase its resemblance to the multilevel marketing outfits like Amway that it based its business model on. Not only is it blurring the line between customer and service provider by having its members not only sell but also maintain the relationship with the customer, it’s creating a loyalty network among its members.

multi-level

The next step would be to move beyond offering members discounts to selling members goods directly – and that’s exactly what Solavei plans to do. In it’s Marketplace announcement Solavei said: “in the future Solavei will also offer its customers reduced-cost primary household goods and services such as general merchandise.”

You’ve probably already run into Solavei members online – likely on many occasions. When the company first launched last year, eager and annoying Solavei converts started spamming message boards (including GigaOM’s) and social networks with their pitches. After a few months Solavei reigned in many of its most aggressive marketers – or site and network administrators s just got better at blocking them – but that hasn’t stopped Solavei from growing.

In August, Solavei said it had 100,000 members, which is pretty good for a boutique MVNO in its first year. While a good deal of its success is attributable to its marketing tactics, it also offers a good value particularly for the heavy smartphone users. It basically has a single prepaid option: $49 a month for unlimited voice and SMS and 4 GB of data on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ networks.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user AnatolyM

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  1. Yes now we have 300000 annoying and dont forget clever and hyper educated mobile cellphone consumers demystified of the advertising crud by honest driven new concepts!

  2. Kevin Fitchard Sunday, October 20, 2013

    Perhaps Solavei hasn’t cracked the whip as much as I thought. This post’s comment section has gotten spammed by two Solavei sellers already (comments deleted). Not quite an onslaught, but if they really are trying move beyond their reputation of being another multilevel marketing scheme, it doesn’t help.

  3. “Amway-like”? Um…NO!!! So many ways Solavei is unlike Amway! Solavei pays on only two levels, not a gazillion like Amway seems to push. I know, I’m exaggerating! The point is that the author is generalizing and suggesting that all network marketing companies are based on Amway’s model. So not true! Furthermore, there’s no overpriced products or services! Solavei is less expensive than T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Considering what you pay compared to other MVNOs like Boost Mobile, Straight Talk, and Cricket, Solavei is the better value as you get more data on a 4G network compared to the aforementioned.

    Yes, I am a rep for Solavei, and no, I’m not going to post my link here. I just wanted to set the record straight.

    1. I have built one of the largest Solavei teams on the net (just google solavei and People Connect People should show up within two pages) – none of my members, even some former amway reps, ever complains about the way Solavei compensation plan works. The big difference and most important of all, is that we never aim to “recruit” people and sell them the illusion of a rich life by retailing overpriced hyped up products. We “deliver” the actual service that saves people money right off the bat, then give them that opportunity to earn even more, 0 upfront cost.

    2. I am 42 years old and was, briefly, in AMWAY when I was 22 years old (20 years ago…. and I’m sure AMWAY had been around before that.) The point I want to make is that whenever someone mentions the concept of a multi-level marketing company, they usually, like 99% of the time, mention AMWAY. I think that should be a positive for ANY corporation. {I’m just saying}. There is nothing wrong with the concept of network marketing… You and I do it all of the time. We just don’t get paid for it. If I ask you what is the best internet browser to use or the best kind of make up or perfume or cologne or the best vehicle with the best gas mileage, we will all have some kind of advice. Well guess what? That’s network marketing. Get over it! and start figuring out how to get paid for your advice. Or not. Just don’t hate on the entrepreneurial spirit of another for trying to earn extra income. Just as long as they aren’t spamming me and knocking on my door annoying me, I’m cool with it.

  4. LOL! only 100,000 members? i looked at a termsheet and ppm for this company in 2011 that said they were going to do 5 Billion + in revs this year. (yes billion with a B) Looks like wuersch is at it again!

  5. I highly suggest due to changes in the company plans that have changed since this article or post was written that those interested go to this post if you werent already routed here from there: No spam…just info. promise.

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    “Solavei, the discount multi-level marketing mobile service, raises prices for some, angers users” ——by Bob Sullivan on November 25, 2013

    http://bobsullivan.net/uncategorized/solavei-the-discount-multi-level-marketing-mobile-service-raises-prices-for-some-angers-users/#comment-5712

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