We just launched our Portugal Chapter. Discover more Portuguese startups here!X
PITCH
Veniam’s simple turnkey solution turns moving vehicles into Wi-Fi hotspots, giving free, stable connectivity everywhere while collecting valuable data –bringing smart cities closer to reality.
WHY?

Rising demand for connectivity

The increasingly digitized society demands better connectivity and easier internet access.

Spotty coverage

Public Wi-Fi coverage tends to be spotty: strong in one place and weak in another.

Expensive, congested cellular networks

Cellular coverage is costly, both for consumers and governments handling huge amounts of data.

MARKET

1.2 billion

Number of vehicles in the world

Veniam aims to turn every vehicle in the world into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots-cum-data devices with its technology.

PRODUCT
Veniam’s technology turns moving vehicles into Wi-Fi hotspots, enabling free internet access city-wide. Its boxes installed in vehicles receive wireless signals from the city’s fibre-optic points –a connection tapped and extended by other Veniam-equipped vehicles farther away, forming a mesh network of seamless connectivity open to other devices, e.g., smartphones.

Read more

Veniam’s technology turns moving vehicles into Wi-Fi hotspots, enabling free internet access city-wide. Its boxes installed in vehicles receive wireless signals from the city’s fibre-optic points –a connection tapped and extended by other Veniam-equipped vehicles farther away, forming a mesh network of seamless connectivity open to other devices, e.g., smartphones. The boxes also gather real-time data sent to Veniam’s cloud storage, offering many uses for its clients, e.g., traffic and air quality analytics, garbage collection planning. The box runs on three radio signals – cellular; Wi-Fi; and 802.11p (aka DSRC or WAVE), a signal that creates a wireless network between vehicles. Cellular network usage is a backup option.
BUSINESS MODEL
Veniam sells a turnkey solution comprising its NetRider box, software and a monthly per-vehicle subscription for its cloud and other services (e.g., smart city management). A separate setup fee is charged for equipping the fleet.

Read more

Its clients’ customers get free Wi-Fi access; in return, Veniam’s clients get to collect data on these customers and more.

TIMELINE

  • Launch
  • Growth
  • Recent Developments
  • Future Plans
  • 2012 - Veniam set up in Porto, Portugal, with roots in academic research; won €200,000 as the grand winner of the BGI acceleration program.

    Read in detail:

    The launch

    Set up of Veniam in Porto, Portugal, with a four-person team.

    • The technology of Veniam originated in academic research led by João Barros and Susana Sargento at the Universities of Porto and Aveiro.

    • The two scientists joined hands with Robin Chase and her husband, Roy Russell – the respective co-founder and former CTO of Zipcar – to start Veniam.

    • By having its R&D office in Porto, based at the University of Porto incubator UPTEC, it managed to keep a low burn rate, of about 20% of that of its competitors in the US.
    Fundings

    July, entered the Building Global Innovators (BGI) accelerator, gaining customer and market knowledge, and developed its business and go-to-market strategies.

    • Graduated as winners of BGI’s third edition, with prize money of €200,000 in the form of a 10-year venture risk loan. The award could be doubled if in the next five years, Veniam was able to meet stipulated technical and commercial milestones – i.e., a potential €400,000 in non-dilutive financing.

    • Helped by BGI’s network, Veniam pitched to 74 investors in six months.
  • 2014 - Some 400 buses in Porto were fitted with Veniam’s technology, its first pilot; raised US$4.9 million in Series A funding.

    Read in detail:

    Products and services
    September, launched "STCP Free WiFi" project in Porto, in collaboration with STCP, Porto Digital, NOS, University of Porto, University of Aveiro and Instituto de Telecomunicações.
    Expansion

    October, incorporated Veniam technology in more than 400 public buses in Porto, in a pilot through “STCP Free WiFi”.

    • Project launched after less than six weeks of intense work.

    December, reached 50,000 citizens in Porto, Portugal, with some 600 Veniam-equipped vehicles.

    • Had nearly 75% penetration of smartphone-using bus passengers.

    • Network included some 400 public buses, 150 taxis and more than 30 garbage trucks.

    • Sensors in public trash cans can communicate with these connected garbage trucks, telling when a can is full and needs emptying. This could reduce collection trips by 30%, saving taxpayers money and easing traffic jams.
    Fundings

    December, raised US$4.9 million in Series A funding round led by True Ventures, participated by Union Square Ventures.

    • Prior angel investors also took part in the deal.

    • Cash used to expand the company’s Mountain View office and accelerate expansion in the US.

    • “Veniam's technology can be deployed in controlled spaces with many moving machines such as ports, airports, construction sites, and mines where it provides reliable and secure real-time data communication, creating new efficiencies in areas where cellular technology often does not work,” noted Union Square Ventures Managing Partner Brad Burnham in the USV blog. 

    Challenges

    Targeting the wrong vehicle type led to a six-month delay in its technology deployment.

    • Using a colleague’s connections in the taxi industry, Veniam had tried working with cab drivers. But this led to dependency on the person, conflicting interests and no foreseeable business plan.
  • 2015 - Won a number of awards, reached 110,000 users a month in Porto.

    Read in detail:

    Expansion

    May, reached 110,000 users per month in Porto.

    June, made the annual FierceWireless “Fierce 15” list, won 2015 Red Herring Top 100 Award.

    August, voted winner at CableLabs® Innovation Showcase.

    October, recognized as “best venture” at the WBA 2015 Wi-Fi Industry Awards.
  • 2016 - Raised US$22 million Series B funding; launched shuttle bus project in Singapore; partnered with telco StarHub to create Singapore’s first vehicular internet network.

    Read in detail:

    Products and services

    February, collaborated with Qualcomm to introduce new product, NetRider™ Onboard Unit.

    • The mesh-enabled V2X device was powered by Qualcomm’s chipsets.
    Expansion

    April, the Veniam team had grown to about 42 employees from 6 countries; served about 350,000 unique users.


    June, won the CNBC Disruptor 50 and Best Auto Mobility Product/Service Award.

    • Lauded as one of the 50 most forward-thinking companies in the US.


    September, provided Wi-Fi capability to National University of Singapore’s (NUS) shuttle buses.

    • 39 shuttle buses can access the Internet when they are within range of 15 access points throughout the campus.

    • Part of NUS's Living Lab initiative that tests new technologies for nationwide feasibility.

    • Collaborated with Singapore telco StarHub and ComfortDelGro Bus.


    November, signed its first collaboration agreement in Asia.

    • Partnered Singapore telco StarHub to create the first vehicular internet network in the city-state, leveraging StarHub’s 4G LTE and fiber infrastructure.

    • The long-term agreement aims to involve thousands of vehicles (buses, taxis, autonomous vehicles) and connect millions of users in Singapore.

    • Companies said this would contribute to Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.

    Fundings

    February, raised US$22 million in a Series B funding round by Verizon Ventures, Cisco Investments, Orange Digital Ventures, Yamaha Motor Ventures, True Ventures, Union Square Ventures and Cane Investments.

    • Funds to be used for global expansion.
  • Recent Developments

    Veniam has clocked more than 30 million km of connectivity and served over 600,000 unique users in Portugal, parts of the US and Singapore.

    It has offices in Porto, Silicon Valley and Singapore.


  • Future Plans

    Expand to other cities in the US.

    Establish a stronger presence in Singapore.

    Venture to other Asian countries.
Updated: 03/2017

Related Insights

f