Islamabad-based internet sharing startup ezWiFi has raised a six-figure US dollar amount in pre-seed funding round to expand its internet service which helps businesses earn money by providing free WiFi service to their customers.
The pre-seed round was led by Iffi Wahla of US-based E42 Ventures, with participation from angel investors like Naeem Zamindar. The startup refused to disclose the amount raised during the round but shared an internal document that confirmed that the amount was at minimum a six-figure number.
Founded in November last year by Sher Ali Khan, ezWiFi offers brick-and-mortar business establishments such as cafes and restaurants to make money by offering their customers free internet through ezWiFi. The hardware, as well as the backend internet subscription charges, are borne by ezWifi, which makes money by running digital ads on the ezWifi interface every time a customer accesses the internet on a laptop, phone, or tablet.
The startup has signed up companies like Unilever which advertise on ezWifi, and are charged on the basis of impressions on the ads. The startup did not disclose how much a business can make through ezWiFi and only said that their projections show it to be a very lucrative avenue of earning.
At present, ezWiFi says it has signed up 115 business outlets including international brands like The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Second Cup to provide internet service to their customers. The startup further has partnerships with Unilever, L’Oreal, and Jazz to provide its services at supermarkets, events, and public areas.
Businesses like cafes and restaurants are usually already providing free internet service at their outlets on their own, but with ezWiFi, they can turn their expenses into revenue. As it grows, ezWiFi plans to install internet at retail outlets beyond cafes and restaurants to other retail businesses, schools, universities, and hospitals, followed by making internet available everywhere through a network of hotspots, if things go smoothly for the startup.
Sher Ali Khan, the founder and CEO of ezWifi, said that despite the revenue sharing model, ezWiFi is a sustainable business. “We don’t run Google or Facebook ads,” said Khan.
“We have our own ad network and advertisers and agencies can directly publish ads through our ad manager which makes us sustainable,” he says. “What makes us compelling is our ability to precisely target the audience intended to view the ad – advertisers can be as broad as targeting every person on ezWifi network, and as narrow as targeting say females between age 30 and 40 sitting at Coffee Bean on a Tuesday,” the CEO adds.
“ezWiFi also offers businesses a mobile and web application where they can view analytics, run promotions, build customer lists, collect feedback and manage multiple locations,” a statement from the startup read.
ezWiFi plans to use the funds towards expansion and building the team.
Iftikhar Wahla, managing partner at E42 Ventures said, “ezWiFi has us excited because it offers an opportunity to connect the masses to high-speed Internet while providing value to businesses.“
Commenting on the investment, Naeem Zamindar, angel investor and managing partner at Neem Exponential said, “I love Sher’s vision and how he has created a business model and technology platform that has the potential to enable a billion users with access to the internet but also enable restaurants, retailers, etc. to digitize their businesses, marketing, and finances over time.“
After scaling in the Pakistani market, ezWiFi plans to expand into other markets in Africa, South Asia, and the Gulf region.