SmartWires Yearns to Grow

By Gerry Blackwell

March 17, 2004

Daniel Ghansah, sole proprietor of the WISP SmartWires, is the poster boy for single-handed entrepreneurial chutzpah.

Daniel Ghansah says he's about to explode.

Or at least his small Wi-Fi company, Webgineering LLC of Miami Fla., aka SmartWires, is about to explode. But Ghansah is SmartWires and SmartWires is him; he's the only employee, though he hopes that is about to change.

In the meantime, Ghansah is the poster boy for single-handed entrepreneurial chutzpah.

As a one-man gad-about, funded with $700,000 in angel financing, he has turned the firm he originally started as a Web development house in 2001 into a very interesting WISP.

Despite limited resources, Ghansah has achieved an impressive amount during two years of flyingas he likes to put itin "stealth mode."

He came out of stealth mode only recently with the announcement of a Wi-Fi hotzone at a private yacht club in Key Biscayne Fla. He's not allowed to name the club.

The deal, however, is a sweetheart. He figures he needs to sign up just 15 subscribers to make a profit.

Before the yacht club, Ghansah sold and implemented two hotel Wi-Fi deals, a profitable multi-dwelling unit (MDU) WISP service, a hotzone at Miami's trendy Coco Walk, and a disastrous hotspot installation at a Pak Mail outlet that provided most of its value in lessons learned the hard way.

Not bad for a one-man company (with a contract marketing director from The LMJ Group International of Miami and other contract help when needed).

So much depends on the money

"I've done lot of homework in the last couple of years," he says. "And that is very important for anyone looking to get into this business. Hotspots are cool and it's easy to get into it, but it takes a lot of learning to get it right."

Now that he figures he's got it right, he wants to raise additional funding and start putting that learning to work.

SmartWires has one additional MDU ready to install and a list of a dozen or so more, all in Florida, where he believes he can replicate his first successful implementation. If he gets the funding.

Ghansah has been lucky enough to be able to do his learning on the job, experimenting with technology approaches and business models in a handful of projects.

For example, when he started, he worked with NetNearU, a turnkey hotspot solution provider, to establish his first modest WISP site at the 12-room Gigi's Resort in Fort Lauderdale Fla.

Ghansah covered the upfront investment in the Wi-Fi infrastructure himself and took all the revenue, except NetNearU's cut.

By the time he came to do his second hotel, the 240-room Hope Hotel & Conference Center on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton Ohio, he had learned some lessons.

"That's why at Hope they're paying for everything and that will be our model going forward," Ghansah says. "They pay a setup fee, plus a monthly recurring fee. At Hope there's no revenue." The hotel gives service away as an amenity.

He also jettisoned NetNearU in favor of indoor/outdoor Wi-Fi infrastructure from SmartBridges LLC and security and WLAN management solutions from strategic partner Lok Technology (LokTek).

Ghansah helped develop the LokTek AirLok, a network edge device that competes with similar products from ReefEdge and others. It was a key part of the installation at the Key Biscayne yacht club.

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