Description

The Community Phone Company is the only cell phone carrier based in Massachusetts. We began because last year one of our moms walked into a major cell carrier’s store with an email problem and walked out having been sold a $1000 iPhone X and without having been taught about her email. We have since heard hundreds of similar stories from Cambridge residents about abusive cell carriers, so we started the first cell company based in Mass dedicated to the community. We provide affordable cell coverage and unmatched customer support, coming to our members’ homes to help them understand the tech they already have, rather than selling them devices they do not need. We also run tech events at senior and low-income centers, and are applying for federal and state funding to donate free iPhones with coverage to Cambridge libraries. We make your cell carrier feel like your friendly neighbor.

History

Who We Are

We chose to work on this problem because our families were systematically abused by large carriers. From a sister who was sold a $45 phone for $500 to a grandpa who spent 3 hrs on hold because he didn't know how to turn on his iPhone 4 and was then shamed into buying an iPhone 8+ to solve "his problem," our loved ones have been crushed by telecom. Our core team consists of James, our CEO and a 2017 Thiel Fellow, John, our COO and a recent USF data science grad, and Ellie, a recent Harvard Math and Philosophy grad who is a professional artist and manages our design and marketing. Our most important qualification, though, is our vehement need to make phone companies, at minimum, decent and ethical.

What We Offer

We buy our data in bulk from Sprint so we can offer lower prices for almost all people. Our more than 200 customers have saved more than $10,000 per month by switching to us. Our most popular plan costs only $25/month, and all of our plans have no contracts and include unlimited calls and text messages. As part of all of our phone plans, we provide in-person customer support and phone set up, making cell phones hassle free. Our coverage is nationwide and can include international services and hotspot capabilities. We do not harvest or sell our members’ data. Unlike other providers who sell customer data to advertisers, the data our members purchase is theirs to own. This helps our customers feel safe and secure online. We also run tech-literacy events throughout Boston, having already helped hundreds of people learn to use their smartphones. Each month we also publish a TeleGraham, our newsletter which includes announcements about local Boston events and businesses as well as a Member Spotlight, where we profile one of our outstanding members.

Where We're Going

We will soon be launching partnerships with hundreds of local businesses, including breweries and farms, allowing us to support local business and give our customers discounted products. We are also building a VPN to deploy at the network layer that will lower data use without damaging the user's experience and stymie ads, while ensuring their online privacy. This will increase our margins allowing members to save even more money, and allow them for the first time to totally control who sees their personal data online.

Projects

Videos

Charlie Atkinson asks an employee of his phone company to record him live in Harvard Square Vimeo

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Awards & Recognition

  • "Thiel Fellowship" The Thiel Fellowship (originally named 20 under 20) is a fellowship created by Peter Thiel through the Thiel Foundation. The fellowship is intended for students under the age of 23 and offers them a total of $100,000 over two years, as well as guidance and other resources, to drop out of school and pursue other work, which could involve scientific research, creating a startup, or working on a social movement. Selection for the fellowship is through a competitive annual process, with about 20–25 fellows selected annually. It has a selection rate below 1%. (Taken from Wikipedia)

Selected Articles

  • This new telephone company Community Phone is light-years ahead of all the others, most notably in its enlightened attitude towards its customers. Graham and his staff of young visionaries are determined to make the phone and the internet less costly and easier to use. Everyone claims they "care." Community Phone truly means it.
    Anne Bernays, American Novelist, Wikipedia
  • I can’t tell you how great I feel having made the switch to Community Phone. I’m a new man!
    Richard McNally, Poet,
  • The company doesn’t have brick-and-mortar stores. Community Phone's eight employees work out of their homes in Milwaukee and Boston, and go out to meet with customers one-on-one.
    Molly Dill, BizTimes