When Ottawa technology company Edgewater Wireless Systems Inc. announced a distribution partnership on November 4 with Belgium technology distributor Optima Networks, the deal brought hope during tough financial times.
“We’ve watched the trends and have identified the fastest growing issues in wireless networking are WiFi interference and wireless network congestion,” said Optima CEO Benoit Bergers in a press release at the time. “With increasing data demand and interference killing WiFi network performance, WiFi3 is the only WiFi solution we’ve seen which is capable of delivering increased user capacity across multiple channels on the same radio simultaneously – this is critical to solving high density WiFi.”
Edgewater, an in-development tech startup, and its WiFi3 multi-channel wireless products have yet to find distributors. As a result, it has long worried about its financial stability. In the fourth quarter of 2016 alone, Edgewater saw its net losses rise to $741,740 from $513,194 in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The partnership with Optima, a company that supports 80 partners across the European Union, was necessary for Edgewater’s financial stability. President and CEO Andrew Skafel thinks the partnership has the company on the right path.
“Optima, they’re really focused on our wireless high density solutions products and they are going to be a great distributor of our equipment in parts of Europe,” says Skafel in a phone interview. “Our mandate or our mission is to fix painfully slow WiFi and our secret sauce is really on our ability to support more users on higher density environments than anyone else can.”
While the company has struggled financially and continues to operate at a net loss, Skafel insists Edgewater’s hurdles are no different than any other early-stage development company and that his team is well positioned to capitalize on a growing industry.
“Like any emerging technology company, our biggest challenges are not really around whether or not there’s a market for our product because we’ve had some really strong validations over the last six months to a year on the market space,” says Skafel. “Our next biggest challenge is to start executing on that demand to really start putting the pieces together so we can grow rapidly and start fulfilling some of these opportunities.”
Skafel says Edgewater has been transparent about its financials and that the outlook remains positive.
“Our financials are open for all to marvel at,” said Skafel with a laugh. “We’re an early-stage development company heavily focused on engineering and research and development and the production phase of development.”
He believes the products, with the right partners, will speak for themselves.
“Our targets are typically high-density venues or applications or places where your WiFi or your wireless generally doesn’t work – that’s the problem that we fix,” adds Skafel. “The thing about wireless is that it’s ubiquitous – the average North American has 2.9 WiFi-enabled devices and that’s only increasing when you start to hear about ‘the Internet of things’.”
He’s not alone in reaching that conclusion. Edgewater marketing vice president Matt Massey believes the company’s “next generation wireless technology is positioned to revolutionize wireless network design.”
Duane Anderson, the company’s chairman and chief technology officer (CTO), who founded Edgewater in 1988, heads its four-person board of directors. Bert Whyte, who built California-based company Advanced Computer Communications (ACC) and sold it for more than $300-million to Swedish Telecom company Ericsson, works as an independent director from the United Kingdom. The company’s original president and CEO, Joseph Dillman, also serves on the board alongside Venture Coaches president and DragonWave Inc. chariman Claude Haw.
Three business units
Edgewater operates through three different business units, focusing not only on WiFi solutions and products, but also on patents and the monetization of those products and patents through “selling access points as a wireless technology.” To date, the company has developed more than 20 patents for its products.
Now, the company is in the process of turning its investments and unique technology into a money-making venture.
“Our core technology is WiFi3 and because of the way that we’ve developed that it’s actually very well suited for use in OEM applications (Other Equipment Manufacturers applications) where we take WiFi3 and install it in their products,” says Skafel. “We are addressing a pressing and growing need in the wireless industry with some highly differentiated patented technology and we’re really poised to take advantage of the rapidly growing opportunity in the market.”
In an industry where wireless density is the biggest concern, Edgewater believes it fills a niche.
“The biggest challenge facing the wireless industry today is addressing density and a high number of users in a given area,” concluded Skafel. “That’s really where our sweet spot is in addressing that with patented technology that allows us to do that better than the traditional approach that everyone else uses.”