With $1.96 million in tow, Wayru spearheads strategy to bring internet to underserved communities

By Riley Kaminer

South Florida-based web3 telecommunications startup Wayru raised a seed round of $1.96M at a pre-money valuation of $18M. The round was led by blockchain firm VC Borderless Capital with participation from 16 other global investors.

Wayru’s goal is to bring internet access to underserved communities in developing communities. They are building a decentralized network of blockchain-based providers to serve the 65% of homes in developing countries that currently lack internet connectivity.

Co-founder and CEO Charvel Chedraui outlined the three-pronged strategy Wayru will follow to deploy these funds. Top of the list: use the money as working capital for the next 12 months, which will allow the startup to expand its current team of 7 people. “We are looking to hire eight more people in the next 30 days,” Chedraui said. Refresh Miami.

The next step is to execute the startup’s growth and go-to-market strategy. Chedraui plans to spend funds on marketing activities to help the startup build more community around its community ahead of a planned IDO – a crypto token offering that will help expand its network.

The third use of funds from this round will go to installing basic infrastructure that will open the network to future users. “We will deploy the first Internet nodes in Latin America,” Chedraui said. “We want to set a standard for how this niche technology works and how others can join our network later.”

The problem: Lack of internet is a threat to human rights

According to the UN, internet access is a human right. However, even today, 4 billion people do not have access to it. About a tenth of these “offline” citizens are in Latin America, a region where only a handful of traditional providers power the internet. These businesses, Chedraui noted, are more interested in upselling their existing, affluent customers: “It’s absolutely not in their interest to go to one of these low-income communities.”

Of course, Internet access is not just a problem in the developing world. Closer to home, only 81.5% of Miami homes have internet access, compared to 90% in other major US cities like Washington DC and San Francisco. This poses an economic and social problem in our increasingly digital world.

There is also a business opportunity here. The size of the global Internet Service Provider market was approximately $400 billion in 2021. This figure is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030, considering the growing population in the world as well as the increased need for Internet access.

A blockchain-based solution

Chedraui, an architect by trade who has spent more than a decade in the telecommunications industry, has been working on the issue of Internet connectivity for years. His previous startup helped local small businesses make money by selling access to their WiFi networks. He calls Wayru the “network of networks”, creating the infrastructure to then enable others to develop a mesh of Internet access points in rural communities.

First, Wayru’s network design is very simple. Anyone can go out and buy a widely available $30 device to connect their internet access to Wayru’s network and share it. This can be a revenue generator for small businesses like restaurants and Airbnbs, which can charge their customers for internet usage. Wayru expects users to be able to deploy “micronodes” within about a month.

In the future, Wayru hopes to expand to two more layers of nodes: block nodes and link nodes. Block nodes will provide access to entire communities, while link nodes will connect to traditional telecommunications networks.

“Responsibility for network operation and maintenance is shared with contractors, communities and local businesses, significantly reducing the operational costs of managing Internet networks,” the company explains in its whitepaper. This decentralization means that the network can grow faster than the traditional alternatives: wait for an ISP or create an illegal ISP.

Wayru’s Algorand-based token, the WRU, plays a pivotal role in their ecosystem. WRUs are earned by setting up a node, sharing an existing connection, or securing network staking (i.e. making an investment to help someone else grow the network). These tokens reward users for their participation.

South Florida as a springboard for growth

Chedraui began exploring the idea of ​​founding Wayru almost exactly a year ago. At the end of June last year, after creating a landing page that garnered considerable attention, Chedraui decided to officially found the startup. Later, he partnered with co-founders Paula Ceballos and Edward Calderon.

Originally from Ecuador, Chedraui spent much of his youth in South Florida, having attended high school in Pembroke Pines and part of his college career at Florida International University.

“Being in Miami is very strategic for us,” he said. The company’s participation in Algorand’s accelerator in Miami helped inform the creation of their token. Given the startup’s deep ties to Latin America and its interest in expanding in the region, setting up shop in South Florida also made sense.

Paula Ceballos and Charvel Chedraui, co-founders of Wayru.


Latest posts by Riley Kaminer (see everything)

Comments are closed.