Ushahidi owned wi-fi Internet startup BRCK is reinventing herself from a hardware to a platform company as the internet evolves from a scarce good to an abundant one.
BRCK which currently sells its wifi hotspots to companies and middle to high income earners is together with telcos and other ISP’s facing severe revenue shortfall as internet prices fall sharply as more startups invade the market with cheap internet and even free internet.
Free internet connectivity
Google, Zuckerberg and now Elon Musk’s SpaceX are all heading towards the stars to setup systems that should provide the globe with free internet connectivity.
“We are moving from just being a hardware company to a platform company as we connect SupaBRCK to Moja and start having a network that covers entire countries,” Mr Hersman said earlier in an ambitious announcement that pits the startup against American tech giants.
Mr Hersman has however not explained in detail how this spartial dream will be achieved given the companies lean financial muscles but the interest the company has garnered so far especially from the major success of Ushahidi may pull in investor funding.
Real massive opportunity
“The demand for internet in Africa is largely driven by the 10 to 15 percent who can afford it. The real massive opportunity is trying to connect the 70 to 80 percent of the people who can’t,” BRCK CEO Erik Hersman told TechCrunch on value proposition of the newly launched device SupaBRCK—a waterproof, solar-powered Wi-Fi box that operates as a 3G hotspot and off-grid server.
Facebook recently partnered with Surfspot to provide cheap internet in Nairobi’s suburban areas forcing telcos to follow with cheaper internet tariffs signaling the end of a revenue stream whose life has not been long enough, at least not for the telcos.
Internet sales however remain a key revenue earner for telcos in Kenya and Africa as a whole and the changing revenue model is however pushing down prices towards zero.
This shift mirrors what is happening in the renewable energy market as solar panels replace roofing tiles to create abundance in power supply. This abundance is also being created by electric cars that will phase out fuel cars.
The world is at the tipping point from scarcity to abundance and technology entrepreneurs whose names are bigger than their companies are the frontrunners killing others to remain great.
The Nairobi Garage co-working space based company also provides hosting and storage for companies as part of its revenues source.
With free internet this means people will be able to call for free and send money at more competitive costs as the internet decentralizes services offering to global players spelling both fear and possibilities to local companies such as Safaricom whose all revenue frontiers are under siege.
But Safaricom is one of the most innovative companies in the country if not the continent as it has been wedding in various markets from transport to courier.