“Can we share lessons between neurons and networks in the way we nurture and develop both?” That’s one of the questions Tiffany Shlain tries to answer in her latest video “Brain power” released together with a Ted book.
I love and recommend her work as it is directly linked to the basic concept that lead us to start Open Garden. For those of you who remember our first video that was explaining our concept of mesh network for Android Open 2011, the mesh network was compared with neuronal network formed in our brain.
This idea was first explored by the paleontologist-philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s 1955 book, The Phenomenon of Man, who explores the “noosphere,” or the collective human consciousness — the Earth’s mental layer formed by the totality of human thought. Peter Russell coined the term “global brain” in his 1982 book of the same name. In it, he expands on Marshall McLuhan’s 1960s concept of a global village — a world closely connected by telecommunications. Russell takes McLuhan’s global vision further, speculating that new telecommunication technologies will lead to a full awakening of humanity’s consciousness.”
For decades, it has not been possible to have open communications systems on the physical level. In a world of wires, network access meant physical access. Wireless networking enabled the technical possibility of a completely open network.
An open network is better than one with many silos, as long as free riding is contained, because, to a given user paying a given cost, an open network provides connectivity that is faster and in more places. To see how an open network creates additional value, consider two people, you and me. We both have the same type of connection at home, and pay the same for it. Occasionally, we are near each other’s houses, but we do not know each other. Consider the baseline world as we have it today: I can use my network when I am home and you can use your network when you are home, but we can’t use each other’s networks. Imagine a world where both of our networks are open. Now each of us can use the other’s network when we are next to the other’s house. Given that my network is mostly not used at any given moment, you using it for brief periods when you are near costs me very little. However, my ability to use your network when I am near your house creates new value for me, far greater value than what I lost when you used my network. Thus, for the same price, the open network served both of us better than a closed one would have.
The sharing of last-mile Internet capacity extends the way the Internet works already everywhere but the last hop to the connection at the very edge. On the Internet, users already share capacity of all the links. This is what makes the Internet so cost-effective. This statistical multiplexing principle allows to achieve better level of service for any given amount of capacity. Not only is statistical multiplexing used on the Internet, similar principles apply to airline overbooking and even fractional reserve banking.
The place of Open Garden in the Open Wireless ecosystem is that of a tool. One of the concerns of potential adopters of open wireless is free riding. Open Garden guarantees mutuality by the very nature of our software: to access Open Garden, users need to install the app, and installing the app also enables sharing of their own access.
We look forward to working with Open Wireless coalition to bring about a world where more utility is extracted from networks and where the openness and the sharing that exists everywhere else on the Internet also extends to the very edge of the network.
Since we started in the beginning of 2011 our course has been like hanging out in an amusement park. It is both thrilling and playful: from hanging on the roller coaster and getting investments from our angels to filling up our spaceship with rocket fuel. That’s the life of many startups. They pass through the different recurrent cycles of excitement, doubt, struggle, joy, delusion, growth and thrill.
We have been inspired by the lean startup approach from Eric Ries: learn quickly what works, and discard what doesn’t. It is a good way to save time and increase the potential to make your startup a success. We have also learned in these last 20 months that the big leaps are made with events that occur when you least expect them and take advantage of them. It is like the quote from Aldous Huxley that Heidi Groshelle, our PR uses as a baseline: “Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.”
This note is a big THANK YOU message to all the people we have encountered up till now and who have invested their time or their money and who generously have given us ideas, advice and intros. We thank the ones who have said YES, the ones who have said NO and the ones to whom we have said NO. It is also addressed to our community of users beta testing our product everyday and to our power users who are sending donations to support our vision.
We have listed below all the good unexpected surprises we have had since our launch. Although we are planning and setting short and long term goals, we still don’t know what next big event will lead us to another leap forward.
Wifi Tethering app for Android: we launched it using an open source code and added our brand. It marked the launch of our business. One month later we checked the number of installations and despite the fact that it was meant to be a test and used only by technical people we realized that we already had 10,000 users. 12 months later we were close to 1 million users without any marketing.
AngelList: it has been a great resource for the early stages of our startup when we were looking to raise our first angel money. Thanks Naval, thanks Nivi for creating AngelList and fueling the startup ecosystem with fresh new entrepreneurs and angels. You have been supportive and helpful since the very first day and we are very grateful.
AndroidOpen: was the first time we shared our vision publicly and showed a demo of our first prototype. The level of interest was a welcome surprise and we won the startup competition.
Techcrunch Disrupt NYC and Open Garden mesh: was a positive experience. We recommend this event to all early stage startups to bootstrap their visibility and funding. Arrington is so fucking direct: he is the same in life as on stage. Despite putting pressure on me when he said “Don’t fuck it up!” just before I went on stage for our presentation, he is great guy! We were lucky that day to be picked up by one of the sponsors and previous winners, Getaround, and designated “Most Innovative Startup”. Thank you Jessica, for your great intuition. You made our day. By participating in Disrupt and winning that award, we basically hacked the whole event. We were already finalists but that move was the big win. BIG THANKS to Eric Eldon, Heather Harde for your advice during our last minute rehearsals and Frederic Lardinois for your consistent follow up and availability. A special thanks to Fred Wilson who was on the panel of judges and posted on his blog about us: “My favorite was Open Garden. By a long shot. Because what they are doing is the most worthy of the conference name, Disrupt.”
Massive press coverage: what followed Techcrunch Disrupt was massive. We hired Heidi, our PR, surfed the wave and got published in +70 articles around the globe within a few weeks. Among them: USAtoday, TechnologyReview, Businessweek, Gigaom, El Pais, Le Figaro
Google IO participation and GooglePlay featured app: the Android developer team has been extremely demanding of efforts from our side, but also active supporters of our vision and mobile application. Working with them was great and we are waiting for the next opportunity to start again. BIG THANKS to Billy and all his team.
Seed round: it took us a year to get the $2 million dollars we were looking for. Allan Green our super angel who closed the round read about us in Businessweek, reached out and we closed the deal in a record time. BIG THANKS to our lawyers at Orrick: Augie Rakow and John Bautista for your follow up, dilligence and availability to make the deal happen.
If you are a developer or if you know a friend developer interested in peer-to-peer networking and what it brings for mobile, check out our recruiting page and our company website. We are also looking for a Product Manager able to make contributions to the design and evolution of our Open Garden application. We are a team of experienced people that work to change the world of communications for the better. We would love to meet and share our passion with you.
Big THANK YOU to our angels for helping Open Garden to grow:
Less than 5 month after its launch during Techcrunch Disrupt in New York city, Open Garden beta has been downloaded more than 500,000 times on Android phones and tablets but also on Windows and Mac PCs.
We have noticed an amazing peak of installs in India which is now the second largest community of Open Garden users after US followed by Mexico, France, Brazil, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Germany.
The growth has been sustained organically and thanks to the recent featuring of Open Garden on Google Play store where the application has been picked among the staff choice.
Users who had a successful experience always insist that Open Garden saves them money and time.
The Open Garden team has made 20 updates (once a week) since the launch of the beta version and keeps on working to improve the first connection experience, the reliability and usability of the app.
How the mobile landscape is changing in the most profound ways
Today, ‘mobile carrier’ doesn’t mean ‘cellular only’ anymore.
To serve mobile users demand carriers are starting to use open wireless standards like Wi-Fi. AT&T in US and Free in France started to offload some of their traffic onto their own Wi-Fi networks. Many other technologies are emerging to facilitate the use of open wireless standards, as it appears that there is a crunch in licensed spectrum.
Re-Imagination of Wireless Networks
With Open Garden we imagined a world where each portable device: smartphones, tablets, laptops and any other wireless device interconnect among each other seamlessly to form a P2P mesh network that automatically routes the Internet traffic through the best available off-ramp. The Open Garden application is a full software solution that can be deployed by any mobile network in a record time. It also enables the use of multiple networks at once making Open Garden a relevant solution to support the huge amount of data coming from video streaming applications. Mobile video traffic is supposed to be multiplied by a factor of 10 in the next 5 years according to Cisco.