Friday, March 21, 2014

Cloud4Wi raises $4 million in series A financing from United Ventures

Cloud4Wi, a leading provider of next generation cloud Wi-Fi solutions, has raised $4 million in a series A financing round from United Ventures, Italy's largest technology-focused VC firm specialized in digital technologies born in 2013 from the union of Annapurna Ventures, of Massimiliano Magrini and JV Capital of Paolo Gesess, to "shake up digital entrepreneurship by spotting and promoting disruptive innovations". The injected money will be invested to expand internationally, with a particular focus on North America.

Wi-Fi is a preferential technology enabling the first contact between users and the web and internet connection services are gradually becoming free. That's why a change of pace is happening: marketing experts in various fields are activating multiple market strategies based on new applications and the collection of metadata, using the internet as exchange currency. This is confirmed also by market trends. Public Wi-Fi services are primarily used to support new products, to launch promotional campaigns, to manage new advertising channels, to gather new contacts and their info (private and corporate) through social login, to send emails, do social marketing and market research. 


Moreover, the existing Wi-Fi networks are more numerous than those that will be implemented over the next three years and it is therefore necessary to adopt an agnostic approach that will allow new services and strategies on both already active and on future Wi-Fi networksIn addition, major vendors and analysts speak of public Wi-Fi hotspot market as an opportunity to 'lighten' the traffic on mobile networks...but the reality is very different. 

That's why the public hotspot market is not and won't be managed by mobile operators, but by providers of fixed and mobile Internet services, web and media companies, system integrators and IT companies. These actors are now starting a new business models aimed at different market segments intending to provide public Wi-Fi services to increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, as well as to increase the number of new contacts. In this context, the are companies working on an applicative approach through a marketplace for web apps (couponing, gaming, geo chat, spot news, social login, survey) and business tools (advertising, email marketing, analytics, net coupon) that allow to structure the bundle of services able to target different market segments.

And one these companies is Cloud4Wi, the first marketplace that enables managed service providers to offer customers with Wi-Fi hotspots services managed through a multi-level approach, allowing an evolution of the traditional role of telcos in Managed Service Provider (MSP). A cloud to manage the services of wi-fi networks. To which combines an innovative concept of market-place to build advertisement, gaming, geo-chat and net-coupons around users. Target market: municipalities, shopping malls and public places in general that provide hot-spots.

The cloud Wi-Fi solution of Cloud4Wi allows Wi-Fi service managers to easily offer next generation managed Wi-Fi services to value and monetize their Wi-Fi. Using Cloud4Wi, the Wi-Fi service managers can redesign their Wi-Fi services through the first marketplace tailored to Wi-Fi. The web apps and the business tools add value to Wi-Fi. They provide a better experience for online users, at the same time, giving an effective boost to the Wi-Fi business. Leveraging on the cloud, Cloud4Wi enables the Wi-Fi service managers to increase their competitiveness. It guarantees the speed up of the Wi-Fi initiative thanks to an up and running delivery. Plus, it reduces the total cost of ownership by offering the pay-as-you-grow flexibility for scalable and flexible business models.

The cloud platform of the Pisa-based Cloud4Wi is aimed at businesses and uses a cutting-edge strategy to enable them to monetize Wi-Fi services offered to its clients, promoting commercial offers, by providing applications and setting up targeted marketing campaigns. In short time the company has established itself as one of the leading italian providers of Wi-Fi cloud solution. Indeed, the most important telco operators, system integrators and vendors have adopted the Cloud4Wi solution in order to address the needs of their clients. 

Firmly positioned as the industry leader in Italy and with a place on the prestigious Red Herring Top 100 Europe 2013 list, Cloud4Wi aims now to compete with much larger and more complicated markets, with a focus on North America. It is for this reason that United Ventures jumped on board with a series A investment round of $4 million, which will partly be used to structure the new headquarter in San Francisco and expand the team. 
Massimiliano Magrini, co-founder of United Ventures (ex Country Manager of Google Italy) believes in project of Cloud4Wi and its CEO Andrea Calcagno "the team is well prepared and, although the average age is 30, it has already accumulated considerable experience. The strategy to strengthen the company position in Silicon Valley in order to begin the distribution of software via the cloud is an important step. This, along with the focus on North America, are the reasons that have led United Ventures to invest in Cloud4Wi. " The startup was founded in 2013 by Andrea Calcagno as  part of Witech, a Pisa-based company also focused on wireless solutions for smart city and technology transfer of the "WiTech", leader in Italy for services in the wireless space. Andrea Calcagno, has gained huge working experience in the last 3 years working on the definition and implementation of key projects for various telco, wireless Internet service providers (WISP) and Managed Service Provider (MSP). He his currently working to increase the international growth of his company, which has developed an innovative solution Cloud4Wi (www.cloud4wi.com), the next-generation hotspot controller cloud to optimize and monetize Wi-Fi connections.

"United Ventures invest therefore in an innovative company with a management team of high-profile and a real passion for global expansion.  The cloud platform Cloud4Wi will surely meet the emerging demand of businesses to monetize Wi-Fi services and, as confirmed by the trend, this is a global market with high potential. The financial support and expertise of United Ventures in the field will allow the company to accelerate its growth in the international arena also benefiting from the experience and relationships of a leading investor in the field of digital technologies.  

While in Pisa remain the sales and the operating area of research and development of the company, very soon the whole management team will relocated to San Francisco. With the intention of making further recruitment" says Andrea Calcagno, CEO and co-founder. For 2014 the company already expects revenues for about $ 15 million.

In terms of market size, the Wireless Broadband Alliance has predicted that in 2018 there will be 55m hotspots (more than 100m if you include homespots). It also predicts that shops differentiation is a key element of the coming years, identifying the stadiums and shopping malls sites with the highest demand for mobile data. These trends are well matched with the vision of Cloud4Wi.

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