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Local News / Technology

Sunday, 20 September, 2009 6:32 PM

Bongotones.com offers free ringtones for your cell phone

Screenshot of Bongotones.com

A look at the Bongotones.com homepage on Sept. 20, 2009.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A new website allows users to download free ringtones to their cell phone, computer or Apple iPhone. Bongotones.com is a completely free service that launched earlier this year. There are no strings attached. The website was created by three graduates from the University of Michigan. Many phone companies allow their users to download ringtones but they have a charge. Bongotones.com is a completely free service. The website also allows independent artists to get their name out to the fans.

"We found this niche with mobile entertainment cause we felt the users desires weren't being met," said Nareg Sagherian, one of three co-founders of Bongotones.com. "We started it in 2007, kind of got together, put the ideas in motion and then we officially launched in February-March of 2009. About a month later, we saw exponential growth. We were getting all these positive responses. People were emailing us from Australia and Bulgaria and Japan."

Bongotones.com was formed by U of M graduates David Pakhchanian, Nareg Sagherian and Soheil Banifatemi.

"We love the state, two of the founders are from Detroit, one of the founders is from Toronto," the co-founder said. "We've been here, we've grown up here. We love the midwest. Everyone is so open. People will help you with open arms. We've succeeded here. We want to give back to a community that's helped us so much. Headquarters always in Michigan. We have our base here, we have our family here. We went to school here. All of us could have gone to school anywhere else but we chose to stay here cause we love the state."

There are approximately 18,000 ringtones available for download on the website. Users who sign-up may upload their own ringtones from their computer and send them to their phone.

"Our mission is A. Help users get access to mobile content," Sagherian said. "B. Help independent artists get their name out there -- be a marketing tool for them. And C. Become like the norm for the music industry. If you're an artist or a band, it's known that you have an artist page on Bongotones.com. It's a way to get your new music out there. We're starting to implement all these great things for artists like having them upload their music and create their ringtones cross-promote their own websites, sell their CDs, sell their tickets, sell their t-shirts. It's becoming this great partnership between us and the artist."

The website allows access to ringtones in 150 countries. The co-founder said there are 7,000 users signed up with a goal of 25,000 users by the end of the year.

"If you turn off your users, you lose your company," he said. "We're concentrating on building our solid user base and our artist base. We've had focus groups where we've polled our users. We've had people come in and check out the site and tell us how can we improve? What didn't you like? What did you like? We've gotten all this data and we're following that trend."

The only requirement is that your cell phone must be able to receive text messages and have access to the internet.

"I've always wanted to do something with the internet, me personally," Sagherian said. "When I went to the University of Michigan as an undergrad, I was a computer consultant here. So I was involved with the internet, helping students with any internet issues they had. From there, it just started growing. It became a hobby of mine. I had most of my classes and I'd do my classes and I'd go home and be on the internet like learning new things, coming up with new innovative ideas. Everyone knows the internet is the new marketplace. You no longer need to have a physical store to have a company."

Bongotones.com will expand to wallpapers, music videos and games in coming years.

"Right now, the website is primarily ringtones, cause we spent a year perfecting the ringtones," the co-founder said. "Sending is free. Signing up is free. We don't charge you one dime. We're not one of those gimmick ones where we try and trick you and you end up paying. No, no. It's 100 percent free. Now, we're in the process of implementing a wallpaper application. After that, we're going to move to videos, possibly YouTube videos. And from there move it to games. We're kind of staggering it out. We don't want to overwhelm the user."

For more information, visit www.Bongotones.com.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Nareg Sagherian is one of three co-founders of Bongotones.com.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Sagherian gives us a tour of the new Bongotones.com.

 

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