Founder Spotlight: Carlo Calimon of MobKard

The digitalized discount card.

By Vincent Pacheco

Living in a competitive capitalist world demands optimal allocation of personal resources. More so that the planet is filled with businesses and corporations drowning people with endless products that it seems that product consumption is no longer a suggestion – It is now a command that everyone heeds to as consumers’ endless needs and wants spurn them on and on.

In the cycle of consumerism we see the promotional tactics of various businesses like discounts coupons, free items, and promotional gimmicks to increase profit. The question is, how can a consumer efficiently maximize these opportunities?

We have here Carlo Calimon, co-founder and CEO of MobKard providing an answer through their mobile app – MobKard.


Origins of Mobkard

Like most startups, MobKard started out as a business idea. To see whether this concept is worthy of materialization, Carlo and his colleagues sent five business ideas at the end of 2012 to compete with other startup ideas. Two business ideas made it through the interview phase and only MobKard made it through rigid selection process. Carlo recounts that “we were selected out of 600 entries nationwide, to be included in the top 20, until it was cut down to the top 10”. Carlo adds that “As part of the top 10, MobKard was incubated for 6 months”. Through these processes, MobKard as an idea gradually materialized and progressed into what it is today.

With the success of MobKard, Carlo Calimon won the The Boss for Mobile Readiness award in the 2015 Bozz Awards for making MobKard accessible to anyone with a smartphone.

What makes this more amazing is that Carlo was able to spearhead MobKard with little tech experience as he was originally a business development marketing guy. He quips “I don’t even know how to code”.


What is MobKard?

MobKard is a user-friendly mobile application that serves as a digitalized discount card and coupon. The application allows the user to keep track of benefits, promos, and discounts from establishments. Also, the app alerts the users of promos available in their current location. This makes the traditional privilege cards and coupons obsolete with the convenience MobKard offers.

What made MobKard thrive is the fact that nearly everyone relies on a smartphone and Carlo notes that “Phones are attached to us already and we cannot be separated from it”. He adds that “even the low income segments prioritizes cellphone load over daily necessities”.

This brings us to MobKard’s vision to provide an answer to the question asked by consumers – How can I save? To this end, MobKard aims to further connect the merchants with the consumers so that both sides can benefit from each other.

Other than the consumers, MobKard also caters to the merchants, MobKard offers benefits such as Flash Promotions. Its value is to move none moving products, announce a new product to generate trial, and create engagement between brand and customer by simply creating a sale to stir up buzz. Carlo explains that this “essentially allows merchants to come up with special deals on the fly”. This is truly beneficial for merchants who cannot sell their products on time. Disposing these products through discounts and promos is more favorable compared to writing it off due to spoilage and other reasons. Through this, merchants can be sure that they can reach customers while the consumers can enjoy discounts. It’s a win-win for both the merchant and the consumer as both parties strengthened their bond in the process.

MobKard came up with these features and they continue to build on it due to constant correspondence with their stakeholders. Carlo explains that “They need to know what they want, what they need and what they are willing to pay for” and they use these three things to expand and improve MobKard.


Challenges faced as a pioneer startup company

Like any other businesses, MobKard has its own share of ups and downs throughout its lifetime. The ecosystem was unfavorable for startups when MobKard started. Carlo explains that because the startup scene was new at that time, corporations did not know how to engage and work with them.

Another challenge Carlo faced were mainly internal relationship concerns. He remarks that the original partners that he had are no longer part of MobKard. Carlo even adds that “I got kicked out of company after the first two months, and I came back on the third month”. Carlo then brought a new group and they were able to come up with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and a client in three months compared to the usual six months.


Advice for startups

For those aspiring to form a company, Carlo gives several interesting points one should consider. He stresses the importance of relationships with partners and colleagues. Carlo stresses that one ought to “choose the right partners with the same mission vision because business models change but if you have the same values and shared goals, differences are easy to work out”. Paradoxically, Carlo recognizes the fact that you would only know if they’re the right partners if you’re already there. Knowing a person for a long time prior to a partnership does not guarantee success as he cites several partnerships formed by close friends and partnership break apart due to differences.

This brings us to his next suggestion that one should always have an exit clause if ever a partnership goes sour. At least, relationships can be maintained for both parties if it exists.

Next, he suggests that startups should have a “firm understanding of the market so that you know what they want and how much they can pay for it” and that there should be an executive board as for the sake of democracy and professionality. Also this will serve as a venue for the settlement of all business concerns.

Carlo’s final word for those who want to form a startup - “Keep on hustling, don’t be afraid to take the plunge”. Without that idealistic hustle, MobKard would not be what it is today.