Jongla: the Finnish startup aiming to disrupt the instant messaging industry


Today we have an article for you written for us by CEO Riku Salminen of Jongla – the free messaging app that’s taking the world’s less developed regions by storm.

Our thanks to Riku for this contribution.


Jongla was co-founded in 2009 by myself and Arto Boman with a simple aim: to develop a cross-platform application that will offer free messaging and give people better tools to express themselves beyond just text. Our dream was to create a service that will replace SMS and MMS in personal messaging. Although we have made several changes to our service and strategy during this journey, we are still working to make that dream a reality.

When most people hear about instant messaging, the likes of Whatsapp and Facebook spring to mind. We’re always hearing about the huge user numbers they have. Whilst the big players have been hogging the limelight, Jongla has been flying under the radar. Can Jongla compete with the numbers of Whatsapp and Facebook? No. But where we’re winning the battle is through innovation and creating a full-featured app that connects less developed regions across the world.

Our development team is based in Helsinki, Finland and we have an APAC office in Jakarta, Indonesia. We do everything in-house from design to server-client development, quality assurance, customer care and marketing. We’re a business that cares about people, so building a winning team has been always a key priority for me. The Jongla family today has 24 professionals from 14 different nationalities – a truly global team to build a global service.

Lighten up

To say the mobile messaging space is crowded is a huge understatement. Despite the competition, we believe there is still untapped potential when it comes to offering a messaging solution to the new generation of mobile natives in emerging markets. Within the next four years there will be about 6 billion smartphone users worldwide and the driver for that growth is the low-end smartphone sector.

With our app being the world’s lightest full-featured messaging app at just 2.4MB on Android (Whatsapp is 19MB) and being an open platform which enables users to message with all their contacts, regardless of their messaging app of choice, Jongla has the competitive advantage to utilise this opportunity.

With our ‘Lite’ and ‘Open’ approach, we have been able to solve the technical limitations and challenges in emerging markets without needing to compromise on functionality. We are always striving to make instant messaging possible especially for people in these areas without high-end smartphones and limited access to a mobile broadband connection. No matter where you are in the world, Jongla keeps on helping people to connect with the world around them, in a fast, reliable and secure way.

Our approach is paying off. We have seen the best traction, viral growth and partner uptake in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Countries where we are growing the fastest include Indonesia, Thailand, India, Brazil, Mexico and Turkey. In 2015, we more than doubled our  user base in these regions.

Looking ahead

I believe the success in emerging markets, driven by our ‘Lite’ and ‘Open’ approach, will continue. Operators are looking to invest in better networks and device manufacturers are producing more affordable smartphones. Based on this, we can expect that the generation of mobile natives in emerging markets will soon ask for more when it comes to messaging and communication, and – we’re well placed to deliver that.

In 2016, we will add new social and collaborative features to Jongla that will go way beyond traditional messaging. The next generation of Jongla, introducing new social features, will be launched before summer. The Jongla 3.0 will be more data-efficient and social helping people connect with anyone, anywhere, on any device. Without giving too much away, VoIP and video calls are also on our radar in the mid-term future.

Our long-term plan is to become a ‘Platform of Things’, to go beyond messaging and become a platform that features new services. We want to keep on disrupting the market with new innovations that will make messaging possible for the next billion people around the world who will be connecting to the Internet for the first time with a personal device.

Considering no apps are opened as much as instant messaging ones, we will keep developing new features and giving Jongla users new and meaningful experiences that make their lives richer and easier. Disruption and innovation is at the heart of Jongla.

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