Wıshfi ıs a facilitating technology solution that aıms to capıtalıze on the internet connectıon in a novel way, by enabling a placement of highly targeted messages into consumers browsers.
Wishfi’s customers range from internet connection providers, namely ISPs, Wi-Fi-, WiMax-, 3G Operators to other access point providers such as venue owners, airports, hotel & cafeteria chains to ordinary companies. Wishfi does not only offer a possibility to a revenue stream for above mentioned actors, but it also offers a way to brand networks and deliver localized messages to a given audience. In effect, Wishfi makes the Internet information flow more localized and more efficient. In networks where third party content is allowed, Wishfi wants to bring a new solution for marketer and media agencies.
The facilitating Gateway Firmware can be deployed on multiple levels from home routers to large scale ISP network backbone servers, without large hardware investments.
Wishfi has Finnish-Chinese roots. The company was founded in early 2007 in California after former colleagues Samson Chen and Harri Okkonen decided to set it up after a successful Bitfone exit. Bitfone was acquired by HP. A Finnish subsidiary, Wishfi Europe Oy, was founded in July 2008. The technology R&D is done still in China, HQ and Administrative Functions are in the US and Business Dev is done in Finland. This varied mix reflects the founder base. Wishfi has thus far proven that their concept is technically and business concept wise quite valid since they have landed pilot projects with a set of Hotels, Wi-Fi Networks and ISPs. Wishfi was also successfully used in Slush Helsinki.
Wishfi announced today that they are partnering with City of Oulu for enhancement of panOulu, Finland’s biggest free and open WiFi network. The official start date for the co-operation is the 1st January, 2009. The network operates in the Oulu region and has approximately 1000 base stations of which 492 are operated by the city of Oulu. In the future Wishfi is planning to open similar partnerships with similar networks. Wishfi is not only a way for the city to fund the free WiFi network, but also a convenient way to act as an information channel between the city and its citizens, as you can also poll the users on various issues via Wishfi enabled so called “information delivery space”.
Wishfi does not currently have any outside funding and is 100 per cent employee owned. That said, they are looking for investors now that the technology is working and pilot projects under way and commercial deployments are starting in Far East, Africa and Europe. Wishfi is seeking to raise around 500 000 euro to fund growth and further product development. Even though activities in Africa have started with a local System Integrator, for the moment Wishfi is geographically focusing on the Far East, namely China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and Europe, where they target Finland.
The model seems sound. We will closely follow how the pilot with the City of Oulu will pan out. This is a promising model for all the cities to get their free municipal WiFis funded by advertising, and with the polling tools the most ambitious might even experiment with something that resembles a new breed of localized democrazy even down to the city block level –A model (PDF file) that has resemblance to what for example Demos Helsinki has been advocating.