Now let’s close the digital gap!
At Wayru, we are a group of entrepreneurs with a shared vision of a more connected world. We took a leap of faith and decided to focus our energy and time on solving a problem that legacy providers and governments have not been able to solve. People told us we were crazy, but we have delivered what we had promised in just a short amount of time. We have gained the trust of a thriving community, foundations, and major investors in our ecosystem.
Today, we are thrilled to share that we have raised a $1.96M Seed Round led by Borderless!
We started Wayru to empower millions of people worldwide to deploy their Internet networks to help close the digital gap, and this new capital will allow us to get there even faster.
“Internet access is as critical as the access to financial services. We are honored to back and support Wayru’s vision of democratizing access to the internet, starting with low income and rural communities in emerging markets and accelerating the deployment of the internet infrastructure by using blockchain technology to create the network effect on building connectivity,” said David Garcia, CEO and founding managing partner at Borderless.
We are deeply thankful to all investors who believed in our vision, Borderless, BigBrain, Meld, LVT, Algorand Foundation, Lonely, Cogitent, Pulsar, Ferrum Network, 7 ‘OK, Al Goanna DAO, HNT Fund, SNACKCLUB, and five(5) Angel investors.
First-year in Review
If there’s one thing we realized throughout 2021, now more than ever, people need Internet access to study, work, or simply stay up to date with world news, advancements, and opportunities.
We had the incredible luck of being chosen by the Parallel 18 Accelerator in Puerto Rico in our early days for the GEN9 cohort. Being a part of GEN9 got us enough resources to hire a small team, grow our community and start building the first protocols of our decentralized network.
Then we got selected by Algorand Miami Accelerator, where we got connected to significant players in the industry, such as Borderless, Michael Cotton (the best advisor ever) from Meld Ventures, and others. With their help and support, we managed to deploy our first Internet node in a low-income community and have released our TestNet for users to engage with our platform and help us improve our solution.
I have probably talked to over 200 investors in the past few months. I have learned more about raising capital by talking to them than in all the books, articles, blogs, and guides I read about raising money before starting this endeavor.
The importance of Internet connectivity has never been as clear as today.
Internet connectivity, like food, clothing, housing, and electricity, is more regarded as an essential requirement. The capacity to evaluate Internet poverty correctly can help raise awareness and identify the most vulnerable communities. This is particularly true in education, employment, entertainment, and general connectivity.
10% broadband penetration in a country increases GDP by 3.2% and productivity by 2.6%. Raising Internet penetration to 75 percent of the population in all developing countries (from the current level of approximately 35 percent) would add as much as US$2 trillion to their collective GDP and create more than 140 million jobs around the world.
A study measures Internet poverty by how many people can or cannot afford a minimum mobile Internet package. Moreover, it is based on three assumed pillars: affordability, quantity, and quality.
Affordability: <10% of a person’s total individual income, or about 19¢ a day.
Quantity: at least 1GB of data per month, or about 40 mins of usage a day.
Quality: 10Mbps download speed minimum at all times.
We at Wayru aim to provide three times more data at double the speed than the minimum needed to exit the Internet poverty situation for just 10¢ a day.
Why this problem?
Everything started over ten years ago when I, Charvel, experienced a lack of Internet access firsthand. I had a test online, and I was at a cafeteria. I ordered coffee and, of course, the Wi-Fi password. Well, too bad for me, the Wi-Fi did not work. I missed my test and left with a sour taste in my mouth for that experience. That episode made me realize that if I, being privileged as I was, encountered that problem, how was this affecting the less fortunate who can’t afford the coffee for Wi-Fi deal. I started researching and was blown away by the data I found. Since then, I have dedicated my time and energy to trying to solve the digital gap. I founded the first Wi-Fi hotspots company in Ecuador, and I later developed the first Wi-Fi marketing platform in Latam (and maybe the world est.2011). I worked as a regional Wi-Fi marketing director for a multinational company in Latam, where I managed teams in over six countries and connected shy of 50 million people. My last startup helped businesses at the bottom of the pyramid make money sharing Wi-Fi.
During COVID, everyone talked about the lack of internet access so many were enduring. Kids couldn’t study, and people who had to work from home couldn’t. It was a disaster.
Around July 2020, I reached out to large, medium, and small Internet providers throughout Latam, proposing to create a massive public Wi-Fi network using my tech stack, which would bring the GB price down and monetize it with ads. After six months of negotiating, all turned me down. One large provider told me, “We don’t focus on connecting more people to the Internet; we rather upsell our existing clients other services like content and entertainment.” This statement hit me so hard. The problem is structural. I tried to fix something that was broken to its core, and that simply needed a better replacement all those years. So I started to rethink the ISP as we know it. In early 2021 I started drafting a possible model, a draft white paper and released a landing page on May 4, 2021. That is when it all started
We have a long way to go.
We have come this far with so little, but we are just getting started. We have a bright road ahead, filled with obstacles and challenges. We are determined to work hard and take on anything that will come our way and get things done.
These funds mean a lot to Wayru. The team is more than excited about all the opportunities ahead and the dozen new collaborators we are looking to onboard in the next few months. The investment will secure 12 months of working capital and marketing expenses to help deploy the first Internet nodes in low-income communities in Latin America to connect over one hundred thousand users over the next year.
Wayru is a global solution, and anyone anywhere in the world can join the network of networks with a compatible device to share connectivity. We will focus heavily on our expansion in Ecuador and then enter markets like Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia within a year from closing the round.
I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in Wayru today, this is a great milestone for the whole team. I am honored to work with all of you every day, this one is for you.
CEO and Founder