My name is Ben Anderson, and I am the CEO & Founder of Bandwidth Pool.
Since Bandwidth Pool hit the ground, a lot of people have been asking “Why?” “How?” “How did you come up with this whole idea?” Because after all, Bandwidth Pool does something no one else does. Bandwidth Pool revolutionizes Internet service buying through a unique, two-tier system that includes user feedback and reverse-style bidding. Bandwidth Pool brings power to consumers for the first time, and it does so in a radically new way. The idea had to come from somewhere.
In 2002, I was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa. One of my classes that year was called “Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation”, and as a class project we were put in groups and asked to come up with a business idea that challenged the status quo of contemporary technology. My group theorized that wireless technologies would disrupt hardwire technologies in Internet delivery (remember, this was 2002!), and we developed a business plan to implement our idea. Our plan was so good that we were encouraged to enter a competition that awarded $5,000 to first prize, and we won! Over the next five years, we grew our business to cover over 26 communities in Iowa, providing internet service to colleges and universities, apartments and student housing, and hotels and retirement communities.
A large part of what we did involved identifying our clients’ bandwidth needs and matching them up with local Internet service providers. The problem we ran into, however, was lack of information – not only was there no consistent directory of providers that we could turn to, but there was no reputational data available on those providers. We had no way of ascertaining not only which providers were out there, but how reliable their connection was, how their prices compared, how their customer service held up, etc. We were navigating uncharted territory, in a sense. It worked for awhile, but the odds were stacked against us.
I came to be in charge of a high-budget contract we acquired for a property in Arlington, TX. While this seemed great at first, it threw into sharp relief the problems we’d been having previously – we had no familiarity whatsoever with the local Texas market, and no sources we could turn to for help. I was able to gather the names of a few local providers through word of mouth, but there was no reliable data available on those providers and I was left to make the decision on a whim. Turns out, I made the wrong decision. We weren’t provided with the speeds we were told we’d receive. The service was not reliable. It went out all the time and we were left scrambling to find alternate sources of internet access. Ultimately, the reliability issues we experienced with this provider ended up costing us the contract and a valuable business relationship.
I was embarrassed, disappointed, and angry. The wrong decision had been made and the responsibility was mine. As luck would have it, I attended an entrepreneurial networking event around the same time. The speaker was discussing how their media design business benefited from a user feedback system. Clients would provide feedback on designers they had worked with, and prospective clients could then come along and use that information in their buying decisions. I remembered thinking to myself, “It would have been nice if I’d had feedback on the internet providers before I made my decision in Texas…” Click. I knew I was onto something. While I was sitting there I scribbled BANDWIDTH POOL on a piece of paper and got to thinking.
The speaker at the event also discussed how their business allowed clients to match needs with budget. For example, a prospective client could go on their website and say, “I need a logo created and I’m willing to pay $XXX”. Designers could then make submissions proportional to the client’s pay range. I didn’t really feel that this type of scenario would translate as well to bandwidth, because there was so little knowledge regarding cost-to-service ratios. I knew we’d end up with clients asking for either too much or too little bandwidth in proportion to their budget. Furthermore, I knew from my previous experiences that providers were more apt to negotiate if they knew they were talking with a legitimate buyer. With these things in mind, I devised a reverse-style bidding process, whereby clients would be able to submit their bandwidth needs and providers would then bid against each other for the business. I was so excited about the whole idea that when I got home that night, I registered www.bandwidthpool.com and immediately set about forming the business.
In those early days of Bandwidth Pool, I had many conversations with executives I had met in my previous involvement with the internet industry. In those conversations I focused on the two facets of Bandwidth Pool that made it unique: 1) the ability to provide and view user-driven ratings and 2) the reverse-style bidding process. No one could think of any company that was doing anything remotely similar. This kept me going. Bandwidth Pool would revolutionize Internet service buying, putting power in the hands of consumers and, conversely, challenging Internet service providers to offer better service at better prices. What’s more, it couldn’t come at a better time. With the increased use of the internet for media and cloud-based services, there is a greater percentage of people needing to make educated decisions about internet service providers. Bandwidth Pool fills that need, and it does so in a powerful new way.
I’m Ben Anderson, and this is Bandwidth Pool. This is a new stage in the internet era. Welcome aboard.
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