Cost of Internet in India is very high at present. Reliance changed the rules of the game by launching JIO, which made a hustle in telecom industry. Many telecom operators lost their customers due to different offers made by JIO company. But this 3 year old startup from Bengaluru wants to beat JIO at its own game. The company named WiFi Dabbas or routers was founded by Shubhendu Sharma and Karam Lakshman.
For those unaware, WiFi dabbas or routers is an affordable wireless Internet network that’s now available in most of the parts in Bengaluru.What makes WiFi dabba interesting is, you need to pay just Rs 2 to go online and use it all over the city. “ To get more and more people online, the price point is super cheap,” says Cofounder Shubhendu Sharma. The founders got an idea from a case study which was done in the 1990’s about sachet pricing. What they found was 100ml Shampoo bottles were not selling, so they made small Rupee 1 sachet and this resulted to the products sold in high demand. The same strategy these two young minds applied to grow their startup.
“ Once the customers start using it they would also introduce bigger packs, but this pricing will remain same,” said founders.
To access WiFi Dabba you just need to have a cell phone that supports WiFi, walk up to the store, handover a 2 rupee coin and get a token to take you online for the next 24 hours. You can easily connect the hotspot around the city until your pack runs out. The company also provides the users with the option of choosing the data plans on its website. The basic plans which one can easily afford are 100MB for Rs 2; 500 MB for Rs 10 and 1GB for 20 Rs with a uniform validity of 24 hrs as compared to JIO provides 1.5 GB at Rs 52 for prepaid customers.
How does WiFi Dabba work?
The company has WiFi Dabbas in more than 400 locations of Bengaluru. The “Dabbas” are generally distributed to the local shops such as bakeries
“We are broadcasting a WiFi signal, and you can buy the token from any shop. Then connect to the open SSID and enter your mobile number- this is one time requirement to establish one’s identity. Then just enter the 8 digit code on the token which you bought from the store and you are online,” explains cofounder Shubhendu Sharma.
Along the way, the company has became a virtual cyber cafe- it has licenses from local ISPs, to run fibre lines to the shops where the WiFi Dabba is set up.
The company has already set up more than 350 routers across the city Bengaluru and Mr. Sharma claims the start up has over 1500 connections pending.
Instead of installing big towers like big telecom companies do,company is going to put lakhs of these small WiFi dabbas across the whole Bangalore city. “There are 20-30 activations per day,” says Mr Shubhendu Sharma. They are already doing pilots in Tier-III across 100 locations in Maharashtra, UP and Karnataka. The company has been funded by Y Combinator and some other investors.
“The idea to build hardware will plan the future of IOT tech providers who can make use of our network.This would be revenue stream for us”
So,when most of the people were busy in knowing different offers and switching on to new sim at the time JIO arrived these two thinkers brought up with such a unique idea.
“ Just Build Up a Door if Opportunity doesn’t knock”