When an education customer asked us for a solution to voice connect schools in the US with schools abroad where there was poor infrastructure we knew we had to test quality. The international schools included those in Kosovo, Qatar and Nigeria so we set out to make some test calls via our system using different international wholesale telecom providers. The problem was, we didn’t know anyone in Nigeria to do a test with and we needed the test done the same day. I tried calling Nigerian hotel phone numbers to test voice quality before I realized the program would be run on cell phones and remembered that the country’s mobile network was of much better quality than the old fixed line phone network. How could I find a Nigerian cell phone number to call… right now?

To the spam folder!

A search on “234,” which is Nigeria’s country code, produced scammer emails talking about financial offers I couldn’t refuse. For the modest price of $20K, I could get a $1M return, or something like that. So I made the first call — good quality. After unsuccessfully negotiating down the $20K, I then asked if I could call back to let me check a secondary wholesale telecom provider. That call was good too. I called a second scammer as well, also with acceptable voice quality. I didn’t get anywhere in negotiations there either, but I had shown that we had access to good quality voice in Nigeria.

There’s usually a creative solution when you’re in a bind. Being in a startup makes you find it.

And later, when our customer decided to remove Nigeria from their school list it didn’t bother me at all.

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