Author: Riley Kaminer
South Florida-based Web3 telecom startup Wayru earned an initial round of $ 1.96 million for $ 18 million before the money was raised. The round was led by blockchain VC company Borderless Capital with the participation of 16 other global investors.
Wayr’s goal is to bring Internet access to poorly served communities in developing communities. They are building a decentralized network of blockchain-based providers to serve 65% of households in developing countries that do not currently have an internet connection.
Co-founder and CEO Charvel Chedraui outlined the three-point strategy Wayway will follow when deploying these funds. Top of the list: use the money as working capital for the next 12 months, which will allow the startup to expand its current team by 7 people. “We want to hire eight more people over the next 30 days,” Chedraui said Restore Miami.
The next step is to implement the growth strategy and launch the startup. Chedraui plans to spend money on marketing activities to help the startup further build a community around its community ahead of the planned IDO – cryptotoken offering, which will help expand its network.
The third use of funds from this initial round will go to the installation of basic infrastructure that will unlock the network for future users. “We will deploy the first Internet nodes in Latin America,” Chedraui said. “We want to set the standard for how this specialized technology works and how others can join our network later.”
Problem: The lack of the Internet is a threat to human rights
According to the UN, access to the Internet is a human right. Yet there are still 4 billion people today who do not have access to it. About a tenth of these “offline” citizens are in Latin America – a region where only a handful of older providers run the Internet. These companies, Chedraui noted, are more interested in increasing sales to their existing, wealthy clients: “It is absolutely not in their interest to go to any of these low-income communities.”
Of course, internet access is not just a problem in the developing world. Only 81.5% of Miami’s households have access to the Internet, compared to 90% in other major US cities such as Washington DC and San Francisco. This is an economic and social problem in our increasingly digital world.
There is also a business opportunity. The global market for ISPs was approximately $ 400 billion in 2021. That number is expected to rise to $ 1 trillion by 2030, given global population growth as well as the growing need for Internet access.
Blockchain based solution
Chedraui, a craftsman who has spent more than a decade in the telecommunications sector, has been working on the Internet for years. His previous startup helped small local businesses make money by selling access to their WiFi networks. He calls Wayra a “network of networks,” creating an infrastructure that will allow others to create a network of Internet access points in rural communities.
First of all, the design of the Wayru network is very straightforward. Anyone can go out and buy a widely available device for $ 30 to connect their Internet access to the Wayru network and share it. This can be a source of revenue for small businesses such as restaurants and Airbnbs, which can charge their customers for using the Internet. Wayru plans to allow users to deploy “micro-nodes” in about next month.
In the future, Wayru hopes to expand to two more layers of nodes: block nodes and interconnect nodes. Block nodes will provide access to entire communities, while connecting nodes will connect to older telecommunications networks.
“Responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the network is shared with businesses, communities and local businesses, which significantly reduces the operating costs of operating Internet networks,” the company explains in its White Paper. This decentralization means that the network can grow faster than traditional alternatives: waiting for an ISP or creating an illegal ISP.
Token Wayru of Algorand, WRU, plays a central role in their ecosystem. WRUs earn either by setting up a node, sharing an existing connection, or securing network staking (ie, investing to support someone else in developing the network). These tokens reward users for their participation.
South Florida as a stepping stone to growth
Chedraui first began researching the idea of founding Wayru almost exactly a year ago. At the end of June last year, after creating a landing page that attracted considerable attention, Chedraui decided to officially establish a startup. He later joined forces with co-founders Paula Ceballos and Edward Calderon.
Chedraui, a native of Ecuador, spent most of his youth in South Florida, attending Pembroke Pines High School and part of his college career at Florida International University.
“Being in Miami is very strategic for us,” he said. The company’s participation in the Algorand’s Miami accelerator helped inform about the creation of their token. Given the startup’s deep ties to Latin America and its interest in growing in the region, its location in South Florida also made sense.
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