Who Wants To Be A Gazillionaire?

Originally published at http://www.yeahfi.com/2005/11/who-wants-to-be-gazillionaire.html2 years ago, while still a computer science student at the University of Cape Town, I dreamt up the most bizarre, ridiculous, insanely huge idea! Let’s create a worldwide network of Wi-Fi hotspots! Not by setting up the infrastructure myself, but rather by getting folks around the world to set up their own Wi-Fi hotspots, all linked through a single system.I soon realized that I needed some way to motivate people to buy Wi-Fi infrastructure and share their internet connection with others. The free Wi-Fi sharing model was my original idea, and I recently saw Wibiki.com launch with a similar concept. But I felt that the best way to get someone to set up their own hotspot was by making it ridiculously simple to set up and for the hotspot owner to start earning money straight away.About a year ago I finally got round to writing a business plan with the help of a mate studying Business Science, Allister. We wrote it for an innovation competition at our university, but didn’t win any prize! We did spend countless hours on doing market research and realized that the dream was worth pursuing. We set up shop after graduating, initially earning an income through doing all sorts of IT & marketing odd jobs. We raised our first capital from an Angel Investor in the US, Don Levy of SkyWi Inc. (Thanks Don!). We started the actual product development of Skyrove in May 2005. Currently, we’re set for launching our first commercial beta testing hotspot at a small hotel in December. (And in the meantime our business plan has actually won a competition! See www.enablis.org/challenge/results)So why am I blogging all of this? Because I hope that in some way I could be of assistance to other entrepreneurs. I can’t remember whether it’s the 1st or 2nd year of doing a business that’s supposed to be the hardest, but I’ve definitely learnt a lot of things this year that I wish I knew beforehand. About marketing, venture capital, negotiations, keeping customers happy, setting up entities in different countries, shareholders agreements, types of shares, trademarking etc. I’m no expert in any one of these fields, but I’ve found that when talking to old hands that they’ve often forgotten how intimidating doing all of these “simple” things could be to the young entrepreneur! So feel free to post a comment here with any questions while it’s still fresh in my mind and while you’ve got a great idea and, like me, you need all the help you can get to become the next gazillionaire!

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