Company sadly can’t bypass nation’s telco oligopoly.
Everyone has experienced it – you’re in the middle of a Zoom meeting and all of a sudden you start having internet connectivity issues. Now it’s up to you to figure out what is wrong with your internet before your next meeting. If turning the modem on and off doesn’t work that means it’s time to get in touch with your internet provider – which can be an arduous task.
One Kitchener-based startup is on a mission to take the headache out of home internet.
RouteThis touts itself as the leading provider of in-home WiFi connectivity support solutions for internet service providers (ISPs) and smart home brands. To help make it easier for ISPs and people at home to solve WiFi issues, RouteThis has secured $25 million CAD in an all-equity Series A round.
RouteThis’ offering has two key components: a platform designed to help customer service agents more easily address tech issues remotely, and a “self-help” component to allow individuals to self-diagnose, troubleshoot, and resolve WiFi issues at home.
The startup claims to work with more than 100 ISPs and smart home brands, solving about one million tech issues annually.
“Today, internet connectivity at home has morphed into becoming like the center of arguably most of what we do at home,” said RouteThis Co-founder and CEO Jason Moore in an interview. “Home connectivity has become how we watch TV with streaming services like Netflix. It’s how we stream music … maybe how you turn on lights and preheat your oven … internet connection at home has also become people’s livelihoods.”
RouteThis’ technology has been in the market since 2017, attracting the attention of telcos and independent ISPs in North America, Europe, and Australia. The startup claims to work with more than 100 ISPs and smart home brands, solving about one million tech issues annually.
But RouteThis goes further back than 2017. Moore’s first created a connected video company that he claims was one of the first apps on Google Chromecast, eventually growing to be one of the most popular. In an interview, Moore recalled how this led to an enormous amount of tech support where he noticed how hard it was for customer service agents to truly know what was happening remotely.
“You’re sitting there with an angry customer, and you’re kind of thinking in the back of your head like what of the 70 different things that could be breaking this customer’s video streaming experience is actually causing their video to break. What’s the actual problem?” said Moore. “So I felt this problem intimately when I was growing and scaling that company. It was the number one driver of our negative reviews [and] it was a huge cost center for the company to be a support team to answer these things.”
Experiencing this issue first hand, Moore pivoted away from connected video and launched what is now RouteThis.
When the pandemic brought to light the need for RouteThis’ technology, Moore started to question whether solving one million issues for people each year so enough. “The problem is everywhere,” he told BetaKit, calling the pandemic “a wind at our back.” So, Moore turned to investors to help RouteThis scale.
The $25 million Series A round was led by Inovia Capital, which RouteThis got connected with through Steve Woods, who recently joined Inovia as a partner and CTO. Woods has sat on the RouteThis board since 2016.
RouteThis also attracted the attention of Intel Capital, the venture arm for the multinational internet connectivity leader.
Existing investors Round 13, Garage Capital, and Ken Miller Capital also took part in the round. The Series A financing brings RouteThis’ total equity funding to date to $30 million in addition to a $3 million line of credit.
“I have known Jason and the RouteThis founding team for years. They have been dedicated and persistent learners and always upbeat and fun to work with,” said Woods. “The home devices network is already huge, and the problems for consumers and businesses are important and expensive. There are not a lot of teams in the world that know more about this challenge than RouteThis, as evidenced by the value being generated in happier consumers and satisfied customers.’’
RouteThis plans to use its newfound capital to expand into new markets outside of North America, which is currently its largest market.
The startup also has product expansion plans, including a platform that simplifies installation services for ISPs and their technicians by optimizing home networks. The idea behind this is to catch and fix issues before they become ‘issues.’
RouteThis has yet to break into the Canadian telco oligopoly despite ongoing conversations.
RouteThis has tapped into a sizeable global market opportunity. As of January 2021, there were around 4.6 billion active internet users worldwide. The smart home market alone has been projected to reach $126 million this year.
“Rapidly, more and more products inside the home are becoming connected, and with the smart home market expected to reach 580M users by 2026, the need for solutions that can ensure flawless connectivity of those devices is only going to grow,” claimed Woods.
To meet this demand, RouteThis is focused on growing its 68 person team. The startup plans to hire for engineering, sales, and product roles with the hope of reaching 140 employees by next year.
Much of that team will be based in Canada. But while RouteThis calls Canada its home base, the company’s technology has not been well-received on its home turf.
Moore says RouteThis has started to see “good traction” in Canada with a handful of independent, mid-sized internet providers as customers. But RouteThis has yet to break into the Canadian telco oligopoly despite ongoing conversations.
“We’ve started getting good traction, I’d say, [with] the independent, mid-sized providers. These are all the guys who are fundamentally differentiating on customer experience,” said Moore. “They’re the guys who are trying to break up the oligopoly of Canada and we’ve seen great pickup there.”
For Moore, it’s really about making at-home internet issues simpler for consumers.
“It’s the consumers’ expectations at the end of the day,” said Moore. “This kind of change where … most of the products you interact with inside your home are going to become connected at one point or another over the next decade. And as that becomes the reality, consumers’ expectations go to ‘this thing needs to work always.’”
“That push from the end consumer is what’s really fueling this market,” the CEO added. “Their expectations for the smart home device companies that they’re working with, as well as the ISPs keep going up. And these organizations just need ways to keep up with that … they need to build and supply the products that will do that.”