I am excited to announce my latest investments: Wifi Dabba and Aptera Motors.
Wifi Dabba is creating the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable ISP for the next billion users in India. Less than 7% of India has broadband access. Service expansion has been inhibited by the challenges of building an underground fiber network. With backing from YCombinator and VY Capital, Wifi Dabba created a laser-based (free-space optical communication) router capable of 100 gbps. The company is now building a 100-point mesh grid network to bring affordable and high-quality Internet access to the 11 million people in Bengaluru. Instead of more venture capital, the company is selling 6 year franchises of each point-of-presence with a guaranteed minimum rate of return.
Facebook and Google have both attempted digital colonialism as ISP operators in emerging markets. I believe in the power of the Internet, but I believe it is best brought to market by entrepreneurs in those markets. I believe in Karam Lakshman and Shubhendu Sharma as founders. I think their strategy of a coalition of franchise investors is smart in retaining control of their business and sustainable for the expected investment-to-return ratio. Bengaluru is the first city, but I foresee both the technology and business model working in many other places.
As of now, there are only 40 franchise opportunities still available in Bengaluru. More info
2008 was an exciting time. President Obama got elected, I got married, and I pre-ordered the most innovative electric car at the time. Some of my earliest tweets were about getting to see an incredible prototype in 2009. Sadly, the company closed when it was not able to secure the same federal loans that sustained Tesla. A decade later, the company has reformed with an updated ambition and a new prototype: an electric car with a 1,600 km (1,000 mile) range with 64 km (40 miles) on solar power alone.
I no longer live in a place where I need a car, but I believe affordable electric mobility is a smart bet on the future. Aptera is taking advantage of Regulation Crowdfunding and it is my first investment of this kind. More info