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Slimmer wifi: WiFi as a service

359 days ago

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Terrible WiFi, it’s one of the most annoying things when you’re trying to get some work done. Slimmer wifi, in their own words, sets up and maintains super fantastic sparkling magical WiFi networks for companies and office buildings. Sounds like a bold statement, but the company has delivered on that promise of great WiFi to companies like Catawiki, HackerOne, Voys and Transcom, to name just a few.

Founder and entrepreneur Wouter Zijlstra sort of rolled into the IT business 8 years ago. “I’m a nerd and I love fixing stuff. When I started, I worked for dishwasher wages,” Wouter says. “That’s because I actually worked as a dishwasher at a restaurant in college, but I also helped them out with all the technical stuff. After that, I signed up at the Chamber of Commerce and officially became an entrepreneur. I fixed laptops, was in charge of migration projects. You name it, I did it.”

From fixing laptops to fixing WiFi

Wouter started renting a desk at the Launch Café coworking space in late 2014, when he noticed the people around him complaining about the Internet connection. “I was plugged in directly to the modem, I didn’t use the WiFi and didn’t have any problems”, Wouter explains. “Then I thought to myself: I can fix this. So I walked up to the owner and suggested he’d let me build a network. How hard could it be?”

“Turns out, it wasn’t that easy”, Wouter laughs. “I didn’t really know a lot about WiFI and this would the first network I ever built. So it was a pretty exciting thing to do, but I was also taking a big risk, because you don’t want to mess things up.”

Wouter’s first network turned out to work like a charm and the people around him not only stopped complaining, but also actively started referring him to other other companies. “Suddenly, more and more people started calling me to fix their WiFi and the Launch Café owner suggested I start focussing my business on it, because so many companies and office buildings have to deal with shitty WiFi networks”, Wouter explains. “The responsibility of Internet providers pretty much stops at a working modem and there really aren’t any IT companies around that focus solely on setting up and maintaining WiFi networks.”

CataWiki & HackerOne

For the first few companies he worked with, Wouter installed the cables and routers by himself, after hours. “I asked Thomas, one of my best friends, to tag along, help out a little and keep me company with a couple of beers. He saw me messing around with wires and cables and said: “Dude, that looks terrible! I’ll do it.” So, he’s been in charge of installing the networks ever since”, Wouter laughs.

Adding CataWiki, one of the fastest growing companies in the world as a customer, was an exciting and important step for Slimmer wifi. Wouter was invited for a 20 minute meeting with Marco Jansen, Catawiki’s co-founder. “We got stuck in traffic and we were 10 minutes late... So Marco said: ‘You have 10 minutes to convince me’. I decided to skip all the pleasantries and just started spouting everything I knew. After those ten minutes, he was like: okay, walk with me and check out the office.’”

After Catawiki came companies like Voys, but also HackerOne. “The really cool thing and challenging thing about having HackerOne as a customer, is that everything has to be super safe and secure. You learn so much by setting up a network like that, which you also start using for your other customers. It’s such a great reference to have too and it’s like, HackerOne chose us, so awesome!”

Krack

“For us, WiFi is a service”, Wouter continues. “Recently, we developed a dashboard to monitor routers, signal and logged on devices for every company we work with, pretty much in real time. One of the things I really love about it is being able to call a customer before they notice a problem and say: we’ve noticed you have a problem, one of our engineers is on his way and should be there in 10 minutes to fix it. How cool is that? We focus on making sure people are really online, which is pretty unique.”

Last October, heavy specialization proved to be really useful, when a big WiFi security vulnerability was discovered. “It was already announced on specialized message boards and forums, before news media picked it up. We knew we had about a day before it made headlines, so we worked around the clock to make sure we fixed the problem for everyone we worked with. It really was a great day for us, being able to call companies and tell them not to worry, it’s already fixed, free of charge.”

Smarter WiFi, smart buildings

Slimmer wifi also has some ambitious plans for the future, equipping their routers with extra sensors and essentially use WiFi to create smart buildings. Wouter applied for funding a few weeks ago. “Our idea was to attach extra sensors to the routers, so you can check things like temperature, CO2 levels and light, but also things like movement. And because you use WiFi as a sensor, the WiFi routers become more useful and the data they send out is secure.”

“You can use it to make buildings more sustainable, by controlling the temperature, lights or air quality for example, along with an algorithm to predict peak hours. Or create smart locks, connect it to the police system to effectively use WiFi as a security system. But it can also be really helpful for the fire department. Imagine an interactive map of the building you can use to pinpoint fires, but also see if there are still people in the building and where, because you’re able to see which devices are still connected to WiFi.”

Slimmer wifi is always curious about what people are looking for with their WiFI. Don't hesitate to drop a line!


359 days ago

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