30 Most Influential Companies of the year 2020 (Special Edition)
Beginning his career in business by securing the European rights to then unknown Yokohama tires brand, Jonathan Kendrick, the Co-Founder and Chairman of ROKiT has today established one of the most stand-out companies worldwide. ROKiT began its journey as a people-first telecoms company, and quickly diversified to provide premium products and services including mobile phones, Wi-Fi services, beverages, pioneering 3D content production, product development, and distribution in movies and music.
Under Jonathan’s leadership the company has grown to be one that is making a difference, while delivering undeniable quality to its customers. We interviewed the business mogul to know more about ROKiT’s origins and future plans. Read on for the excerpts from the interview.
What was the rationale behind starting ROKiT?
Initially set up as a people-first telecoms company, John Paul DeJoria (ROKiT Group Co- Founder) and I had the desire to build an unparalleled network of vital communications through a range of affordable handsets, with unique features and services for all. ROKiT was built on the belief that having access to basic necessities such as internet, healthcare, calling friends and family is a right — not a privilege. It has now been 17 years since we launched our first business venture together. Today, ROKiT has expanded to Wi-Fi products, Telemedicine, and so much more.
How has ROKiT evolved over the years?
ROKiT has rapidly developed into a global conglomerate and we now have a diverse portfolio of premium products and telecom services. In the fall of 2018, John Paul and I launched ROKiT Cities, a wide area mesh networking Wi-Fi XL system built to help connect some of the world’s poorest communities around the globe. ROKiT Cities’ IP protected Wi-Fi system can be deployed in both public and private network environments, supported by a vast ecosystem of partners. ROKiT now has more than 45 metropolitan areas signed up for our Wi-Fi services, including India, Vietnam, Nepal, Indonesia, Colombia, and Senegal. Our ambition is to accelerate installation of faster and more cost-effective Wi-Fi XL across the globe, encouraging economic expansion by driving e-commerce, thereby reducing the digital divide.
ROKiT Drinks is an equally thriving business where with my partner, ROKiT Vice Chairman, Dean Becker, we sell a broad selection of products including premium Bavarian beer, hand-made spirits, ultrapremium tequila, energy drinks, and mineral water. Uniquely, we don’t have one jewel in our crown, but two, Bandero tequila and ABK beer. Bandero is one of the smoothest tasting tequilas on the market. It is handmade in Jalisco from 100% Blue Weber Agave. It’s already earned numerous awards, including the coveted Double Gold Medal at the Global Spirit Awards. We also own one of the oldest commercial breweries in the world, the Aktien Brewery, founded in 1308 in Kaufbeuren, Bavaria. We brew our ABK beer using the same recipe and pure water source for 700 years, and have won countless awards, including Gold in the World Beer Awards in 2019.
Earlier this year, we also launched ROKiT Pay Blue, a secured mobile wallet management system allowing users to instantly send money overseas without paying transfer fees. Users can receive payments, manage bank accounts, pay for goods and services, access cash from ATMs, and top up their prepaid mobile phones. In order to capitalize on another rapidly growing industry, we are breaking ground on the largest e-bike manufacturing facility in the United States, where we will produce models for multiple price points. We plan to make 300,000 e-bikes and mobility vehicles in a year’s time, with plans to ramp up to 900,000 in year two.
Tell us more about what makes your ROKiT Phones so unique.
As I mentioned, we bundle services that can really help people when they need it most. ROKiT users get access to affordable life benefits such as telemedicine, legal services, roadside assistance, accidental death, and ID-theft insurance. Our phones also come with ROKiT Talk, letting users make international calls to landlines and mobiles in more than 60 countries over Wi-Fi for free,and without the need of a cellular plan.
We created ROKiT Telemedicine for people without health insurance, to offer them affordable treatment from a medical professional, and discounts on prescriptions for a fraction of the cost of an Urgent Care facility. Originally, Telemedicine came bundled with our phones, but as the pandemic struck, we created a stand-alone telemedicine app so that everyone can use it, whatever phone they have.
And last but not least, we’ve created an immersive, 3D experience on our smartphones,while providing access to the world’s largest exclusive 3D catalog. No special glasses or headsets are needed. In addition to our exclusive 3D titles, we have some big-name Hollywood studio deals in the works, which we will announce in time for the holidays.
The ROKiT Man
Jonathan Kendrick, Co-Founder and Chairman
A serial entrepreneur, he began his business career by securing the European rights to then-unknown Yokohama tires brand. During the mid-90s, he brought the unknown, Indonesian tire brand, Gajah Tunggal to the UK, turning it into one of the leading retailers. Later that decade, Jonathan started to work in the telecoms business, developing an innovative system for British Telecom to sell pre-paid vouchers electronically and eventually sold the company in 1998.
In 2018, Jonathan and John Paul DeJoria created ROKiT, a people-first telecoms company selling a selection of value-driven mobile handsets, paired with vital life services such as telemedicine and roadside assistance as well as smartphones featuring glasses-free 3D screens.
Jonathan is also an accomplished film producer. In 2019, Jonathan won his first Gold and Silver Telly Awards. He also has a record label, comic book business, natural spring water company and multiple investments in games companies, cryptocurrency, and emerging technology.
“We created ROKiT Phones, because we believe everyone should have affordable access to innovative phone technology, international calling and essential services such as telemedicine and legal services.”