Startup firms can provide unique benefits to established companies
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
If you are in a decision-making position in an Oklahoma company, is there any reason you wouldn’t want to consider doing business with a startup?
You might think that there’s too much risk with a startup — that a young firm might be too optimistic, understaffed, overly passionate. Or maybe not seasoned enough to address problems that your otherwise successful company hasn’t been able to solve.
Personally, I like optimism and passion. I favor businesses that stretch, that run lean, and that focus on cashflow. And I like to be part of helping a new business grow. I bet when you think about it, you do too.
Who’s On My Wifi (WIOMW) is a young company with services that are a fit for small to mid-sized companies and public sector agencies that want to monitor their wireless networks. Who’s On My Wifi started off in the security space for both consumer and business-to-business markets with an easy to use tool to identify unknown devices or intruders on wireless networks.
Then WIOMW began to get questions from municipalities, small banks, and healthcare businesses who wanted to know as much as possible, not only about which devices were on their networks, but the historical patterns of usage by all devices. But user privacy was very important.
“I was in the private sector and saw a problem — there weren’t good monitoring tools that recorded and reported what happens on a network over time,” said John Kerber, WIOMW CEO and founder. “We developed a solution, and we now deliver wireless stats with citizen privacy of all data.”
With 1.5 million downloads, Kerber is selling to municipalities, and monitoring wireless usage from libraries to city parks. Agencies use the statistics to support grant funding, to optimize staffing, and to evaluate which shared resources are being used and which are not.
“When there is a real need and no solution,” Kerber said, “customers will go with a solution from a small company. Our privacy feature absolutely made us stand up and out from the crowd. That’s something we developed from listening to our customers. We compete by listening intently to our customers in a way that larger networking companies with a customer base of 20,000 customers can’t.”
Many times, I’ve seen first-hand that when bright entrepreneurs invest the time to learn about markets, to listen to customers’ problems, and to test and apply new technologies, amazing solutions emerge. Solutions that allow organizations from intermediate-sized companies to mega-corporations to avoid cost, better serve customers, enter new markets, or surge ahead of competition.
All because someone in an established company or organization is willing to sit down and talk to a passionate entrepreneur with a new good idea. Maybe your company should give it a try.
Did You Know?
More than one-third of the US working population is employed at businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Businesses with less than five employees make up 62 percent of all businesses in the US.
Source: US Small Business Administration
Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.