The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Prashanth Vijay of Flume
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Prashanth Vijay, co-founder and CEO of Flume, a fiber based internet service provider bringing gigabit home broadband to the US.
What type of internet do you have at home? If you live in the US, the chances are it’s not fiber-optic, as only about 8% of homes are connected to fiber lines. The main difference between other types of internet connections and fiber internet is that it doesn’t utilize electric current. The technology uses fiber-optic cables, which can send large quantities of data with low latency. Not only is it fast, it’s not as susceptible to severe weather conditions, which reduces the chance of outages. CEO and co-founder Prashanth Vijay and co-founder Brandon Gibson are changing the landscape of home internet connectivity with their startup Flume - by offering dependable and affordable fiber internet to homes in NYC and other cities. They’re ensuring that everyone has reliable internet service whether you live in a penthouse or public housing!
What’s Flume’s “North Star”?
Our North Star is bringing gigabit broadband options to underserved homes throughout America with fiber home internet. We want to be the fastest ISP to cross 1 million homes with fiber.
What sets Flume apart from competitors?
Other companies who have launched in this space primarily use fixed rooftop to rooftop wireless to get to buildings. I think one of the challenges they're facing is that you need access to good fiber underneath that to be able to set up those kinds of wireless networks. We're trying to pave the way and create fiber supply for ourselves as well as wireless partners in the space. We see the home broadband movement growing now in the US and we want to be the fiber platform for a lot of those projects.
Tell us about a recent milestones Flume crushed.
Flume is now available with fiber to the home service in over 7,000 homes in NYC and will be available in 20,000 homes by end of year. For an ISP that only began operations 10 months ago, that is pretty staggering growth.
What are some of the greatest challenges that Flume is facing?
Our biggest partners tend to be in real estate and cities. With all this work from home now, everybody’s broadband is top of mind. That didn’t used to be the case, so there’s always a real estate partnership challenge. We're like a prop tech company in that way. One recent challenge that keeps me up at night is the fact that our modems and routers are chipset based and we're not immune to the global supply chain issues. We have good plans and dual vendors and dual supply areas, etc, but there’s only so much we can do as a small company.
What makes you a unique founder?
My team and I have over 40 years of combined telecom experience from both startups and incumbents in the industry. We're helping lead the charge, bringing innovative minds in telecom together and innovating on a century-old asset class. We're just oddly really passionate about home broadband and want to see it fixed for as many folks as possible. It's not something you see very often. Many of the newer startups in the space are really passionate, but they're technologists and not really telecom folks, so I think that makes us unique. We have a track record and it’s definitely helped us get public bids. Sometimes you have to have done it a few times and felt the bruises to make the adjustments and build a truly scalable network.
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