Google Quit, Starry Didn’t. Faster and cheaper internet is available to everyone here. – News Couple
ENTREPRENEUR

Google Quit, Starry Didn’t. Faster and cheaper internet is available to everyone here.


There’s a new internet provider in town, and they’re on a mission to confront the Goliaths that many of us are frustrated with, while providing affordable and accessible internet to billions of people. Including disadvantaged and hard-to-reach communities.

After routers, fixtures, hidden fees, and surcharges, the average household in the United States pays about $80 a month.

Instead of using traditional fiber optic cables that make ultra-fast Wi-Fi unaffordable for low- and middle-income customers, Starry provides ultra-fast internet to customers over the air, using innovative new technology that builds gigabit networks across entire cities at a fraction of the cost. and time required for competitors.

This is how Good Unicorn can deliver 200Mbps at $50 per month with no contracts, no fees, and free routers.

Even more compelling is the story of how Starry’s innovations enable it to provide a highly affordable, $15 per month, 30 Mbps service to underserved communities as part of its digital equity program, Starry Connect. To date, Starry Connect serves more than 40,000 public and affordable housing units in Boston, New York, Denver, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Columbus Ohio.

Stari’s final mission? To connect billions around the world. Starry’s mission is aligned with Goal 9 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, “to significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries.” That’s why I’m including Starry in this series on Good Unicorns, the $1 billion+ companies that are creating transformative change for our people and our planet.

Let’s dive into the details with entrepreneur and tech activist Chet Kanujia, CEO and founder of Starry. A note on Shit, he’s not your typical startup founder. He’d take his fight to break monopolies straight to the Supreme Court if he had to…and he did in 2014. We don’t get too deep into that epic fight, but you can learn more about it here.

Diana Tsai: Oh shit! Let’s start with the problem you’re currently solving, because I know the vision is pretty great. Can you give us a glimpse?

Sheet Canojia: We are making affordable broadband available to millions of Americans. Only in the United States, 20 million Americans still lack a high-speed broadband Internet connection. We believe connectivity is a powerful balancing act for individuals, families, and entire communities. However, many people are still not connected because broadband is too expensive or not available to them.

The reason we started all this was because we saw an imbalance in the broadband market: The vast majority of Americans, 65%, have only one choice of broadband; Broadband service was expensive; And the customer experience was poor, all of which contributed to a very negative consumer experience. We saw an opportunity to do even better, by developing groundbreaking technology that dramatically lowered the cost of building robust gigabit networks and linking it to a laser focus on customer experience.

So in the end, Starry’s mission is simple: to connect as many people as possible to affordable, high-quality broadband. Because if we do that, we can enable greater access to economic opportunity, education, and health care. More access to these things will help move society forward and move it forward.

Starry is still on that road, and today we serve six markets: Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Denver, and Columbus, Ohio with an expansion roadmap that, over time, will move the company to 37 states and cover more than 40 million American households.

Tsai: How exactly do you make it accessible to everyone?

boat: The Internet today comes to you on a set of wires. Mostly copper, and fiber is the best technology out there. The problem is that the last mile of getting those fibers to hard-to-reach communities is really expensive. You literally have to dig physical trenches. That is why there is no competition in this segment, which leads to higher prices. Finally, companies simply cannot justify the return on investment for getting high-speed internet to hard-to-reach communities. I mean, Google tried it and they had more money than God, and they gave up.

So how do we get to these hard-to-reach communities and get them online? Its essence is that we have created a new wireless technology based on the use of licensed high-capacity millimeter wave spectrum to significantly reduce broadband network construction costs. It’s painfully complex business as it is about implementing on superior partnerships in software, hardware, installation and distribution.

We’ve engineered our innovative technology to build gigabit networks across entire cities at a fraction of the cost and time it takes now for existing service providers. This means more savings for the consumer. This is how Starry was able to offer near-symmetrical speeds of 200Mbps for $50 per month with all equipment, installation, and 24/7 customer service and no data caps, long-term contracts, or no additional fees. Ultimately, the goal is to provide access and affordability to high-speed Internet for all.

Tsai: Well, I think I got that. I don’t know if I fully understand all the technical aspects, but I get to the point, which is that you are making the Internet faster and cheaper, for those who need it most, through smart innovations in wireless technology. For the customer, how is their experience with Starry different from their experience with your competing service providers?

boat: We are ethical, and we treat people the way we want them to be treated. It’s not about selling a bunch of random litter to our customers. It’s about total transparency, no fees, no hidden costs, protecting their data, never looking at their information, and net neutrality, these are the kinds of very tough security barriers we hold ourselves accountable for.

Tsai: Can we dig deeper into what you mean by ethics?

boat: I think of it as the way I want to be treated. You know, empathy, fairness, compassion. Ethical for me also means transparency.

This is evident in all parts of our business, even the physical router, there is a screen on it that shows exactly what the customer is getting at all times. So they don’t buy 200Mbps and then wonder if they only get 25Mbps, what you see is what you get.

In terms of price, what that means is there’s one price, no taxes, no fees, no equipment rentals, no fees, and things to argue about.

No contracts. I think the feeling of being arrested is a terrible feeling.

We don’t even come close to anything that looks like that. You can cancel at any time with us, no contracts. And it’s not because we’re terrible at doing business that we do all these things. That’s because we believe that when these values ​​are ingrained into the company, our customers will stay with us no matter what. I have faith that the vast majority of people just want to be treated well and be treated fairly and want to support companies that do.

Tsai: The thing that struck me about Starry is your deliberate focus on serving chronically underserved and underserved communities. I know you’ve already reached 40,000 families in these communities, can you talk more about this?

boat: Our ability to serve underserved communities and deliver dramatically discounted rates and incredible value is truly empowered by our technology innovation. It is not a charitable initiative, it is actually a profitable one, which means that it is sustainable and scalable.

Traditionally, our fiber competitors, when they encounter a low-income area, may bypass the entire neighborhood, because they don’t think they will get a return on investment because of the hardware investment costs. What we’ve been able to do is deliver the internet over the air and very efficiently because of our core innovations, so it doesn’t cost us anything extra to bring to those communities. This is how we can offer Starry Connect, our $15 per month 30Mbps product.

Why is this important? You remove these barriers to high speed Wifi and enable people who might not have been able in the past to work from home, now you save them time and costs in commuting and childcare..so the full cost of people entering the workforce goes down.

Tsai: So let’s go back to the beginning of the story. There are a lot of problems worth addressing in this world. So what was the process by which you decided to address this particular issue to build this specific solution to choosing to build Starry?

boat: In 2012, I was doing some charity work in India. We collected a library of 50 Chromebooks in a village and set up a good Wifi with satellite connection. Then we opened the library and the kids were allowed to watch YouTube and explore the world. It was really fun watching the post, the numbers go up, and seeing the kids learn. And this is where the idea of ​​building a WiFi access network originated.

The things that resonated with Starry? We’re pushing society forward, we’re doing something constructive, and there’s this massive sector with huge margins.

Also, it’s complicated, which I really like. I love business that intersects with various disciplines, and this is at the intersection of software, media, law, and government. It’s really a very complex technology with regulatory components, because we license the spectrum, we deal with the government, the local state.

And then, as an engineer, I like that my product is actually used by an end customer. And our product is used 13 hours a day by consumers, right? It is not appreciative.

Tsai: How about finding the right product for the market? Was that difficult or did you immediately come up with the basic innovation and it was just a matter of growth?

boat: I’m not smart enough to discover a new product. I’m an engineer at the end of the day. Where I do great things is build on existing technology that actually solves a problem. Once I understand what actually moves the needle, or what is of real value to consumers, I know exactly what to build, and I do it.

With Starry, my team, and I, we’ve been waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on my former company, Aereo. So my co-founder Joe and I just bought a bunch of equipment for a farm on the south shore of Boston, and spent months doing experiments on waveform preservation, the basic things we need to understand to see if our hypothesis on high-speed Wifi will work over the air.

Once we figured this out, it was just about risk management, iteration, and implementation, which as a team we have a very strong track record for.

Tsai: What is your advice to entrepreneurs who want to face problems worth solving?

boat: One of the things that I think people do wrong is that they fight themselves. People are their worst enemy. And I think a lot of bad things happen when people go against who they are. This leads to deceptive behavior and intellectual misinformation.

I think the basic strategy I tend to follow is this: just be honest.

Do what you love to do. Do not listen to what is right or wrong from anyone else. All of these learned behaviors will not change who you are. The people around you, your employees, your customers… Humans are smart. They are really quick to identify you. So, if your startup has a bro culture, Furat Boy, no matter how many times you’ve put on a suit and been to CNBC, in the end, people see who you are.

So that’s my opinion, that’s why we don’t really have a strategy, it’s all nonsense.

Our strategy boils down to this: we’re good people, and we’d be really good at doing what we do. That’s what good teams do in my opinion. As strategy goes out the window the moment you hit the deck, completely unknown situations pop up. I mean, the NASDAQ could go to hell tomorrow, right? You never know. The world is changing, you have to rotate, you have to change. And unless you’re good at having emotional strength, you won’t survive.

Try not to be too smart. Stick to your compass. Just be honest. That’s it.

Want more about Good Unicorns? Go here.



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