Onwave raises €4.1m – plans to create 30 new jobs

1 Jul 2011

The Midlands-based satellite broadband player Onwave, formerly known as Satellite Broadband Ireland, has raised €4.1m in venture capital and plans to expand into the UK and other European markets.

Nucleus Venture Partners raised the funding to fund pan-European expansion. The Halo Business Angel Partnership facilitated the investment, which matched angel investors Nucleus Venture Partners with Onwave.

Onwave founder and CEO Kevin Ryan explained to Siliconrepublic.com that the 30 new jobs will be divided between Onwave’s Mullingar headquarters and a new support operation in Galway. The new positions will be in the areas of R&D, project management, finance, sales, information technology and customer care.

Ryan explained the new funding will be used to expand into other UK markets, beginning with an office in the UK, before moving into other markets. He told Siliconrepublic.com the company will invest in R&D to fuel a move into other areas of broadband delivery, as well as satellite.

“I would like to point out the words of Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton in recent days: ‘Governments don’t create businesses, businesses do.’ I reached a point where I realised that the future of Irish firms like Onwave is to get out there and expand internationally and you can’t wait for these opportunities to find you, you’ve got to find them.”

Onwave is upgrading its broadband speeds to 10Mbps and will introduce new phone and TV services. Onwave will focus on a core target market of 210,843 home and business internet users in Ireland who currently connect to the internet at speeds less than 2Mbps, including 54,718 who are still on narrowband or dial-up connections.

A three-year broadband utility contract, worth more than €5m, was previously signed by Onwave, which gives it pan-European rights to sell Eutelsat’s next-generation Tooway satellite services throughout Europe.

This will provide for the bundling of digital services over a single high-quality connection via the world’s most powerful satellite, KA-SAT, which went into service recently, on 31 May.

Founded in response to Ireland’s rural broadband crisis

Kevin Ryan and Seán Óg Brennan founded Satellite Broadband Ireland – now Onwave – in 2008, in response to the lack of a cost-effective rural broadband service. To date, they have built a national network of residential and business broadband customers right across Ireland.

“We want a world in which people are no longer disadvantaged just because they live outside the main urban centres,” Ryan explained.

“Access to high-quality and competitively priced digital TV, broadband and home phone packages should be universal to everyone and not limited by a location. Our goal is to deliver high-quality services and a competitive landscape for all customers.

“We will guarantee quality of service and speed of connections, backed up by our dedicated customer service team, which is based at our headquarters in Mullingar. We will do what we say, when we say and in so doing, reset the service expectations of customers to a new level.

“We are working towards equal access and sensible charges for all,” Ryan said.

He explained Onwave got involved with the HALO Business Angel Partnership three years ago and had met many potential investors. However, it was the vision of Nucleus Venture Partners, led by Irishmen Alan Phelan and Sean McKeague, that most impressed him and his management team.

“They bring a proven entrepreneurial track record and international execution pedigree to Onwave. The HALO Business Angel Partnership funding process worked extremely well for us in matching the finance and relevant expertise which will help us going forward,” Ryan added.

John Phelan, of the HALO Business Angel Partnership, said Onwave built a business from zero to being on the way to becoming a significant European player.

“This investment gives onwave the financial resources to capitalise on its ambitious plans and the track record to date suggests that it has the wherewithal to deliver. Dublin BIC, manager of the Halo Business Angel Partnership, has a European footprint and is actively networking Onwave with other EU BICs and helping with on-the-ground local partnerships.”

Alan Phelan, founding partner of Nucleus Venture Partners, said he sees enormous potential to scale Onwave quickly across Europe and this is one of the key factors that enticed Nucleus to invest.

“Coming from a telecoms entrepreneurial background, I recognised the potent mix of marketing, proven execution and excellent technology that underscores Onwave’s ability to succeed,” Phelan said.

Photo: Alan Phelan, founding partner of Nucleus Venture Partners; Kevin Ryan, CEO, Onwave; and John Phelan, of the HALO Business Angel Partnership

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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