We started Celona with the idea that a combination of 5G radio technology, edge computing and machine learning software will fundamentally change how organizations work and do business. We had the big hairy goal, and we knew we had the skill set and experience to make it happen. After all, our founding team members have built products spanning the entire stack – from chipsets and systems to cloud based software - for companies like Qualcomm, Ruckus Networks, Aruba and Cisco.
These ambitions have been reinforced by our first round of investors who share our vision of creating a global platform that will make cellular wireless accessible and fully consumable by enterprise IT. Investors like Arif Janmohamed, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners; Shirish Sathayem, General Partner at Cervin Ventures; and Matthew Howard, General Partner at Norwest Venture Partners. The connecting factor here is that each investor has a track record of supporting other networking companies like Aruba, Airespace and Mist in their early days. In other words, they’ve backed some of the big disrupters of the past and they are here to support the Celona team into the future.
So what were some of the key factors that lead to a firm handshake with the Celona founders and a commitment to join the Celona journey. We found out.
Matthew Howard - General Partner at Norwest Venture Partners
Reason to invest: CBRS is the biggest thing to happen to enterprise wireless since the invention of the cell phone and Wi-Fi, and Celona will capture that opportunity.
What he says:
“By building a modern tech stack on top of the CBRS innovation, Celona is bringing AI-powered cloud to cellular LTE and 5G wireless in the enterprise.”
Let’s start with a short, but acronym-heavy description of the pending birth of a wireless network alternative for enterprises. The enterprises appetite for mobility and wireless fidelity will soon be satiated with the upcoming release of the CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) band by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This is because the enterprise will soon gain access to a whole new way to access LTE and 5G, enabling enterprises to use the spectrum to set up their own indoor and outdoor private 5G networks.
In the past, Norwest Venture Partners has keenly zeroed in on the opportunity of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth evolving from a consumer to enterprise technology CBRS. This has been demonstrated by very early and revolutionary investments in Mist and Airespace around. Matthew rightly anticipates that Celona will be a big part of the early story as CBRS enabled cellular and Wi-Fi can co-exist to better serve a wider set of enterprise use cases and purposes.
Arif Janmohamed - partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners
Reason to invest: We firmly back the Celona founders plan to define the next chapter in enterprise wireless networking.
What he says:
“It takes an ambitious and innovative founding team to recognize an opportunity to transform a market. And the Celona founders plan to define the next chapter in enterprise wireless networking.”
While it is somewhat of a cliché, it is still very true that people invest in people. Arif first got to know Rajeev Shah (now founder and CEO of Celona) when he was recruiting for a role at one of his portfolio companies. While that didn’t pan out, Arif recognised Rajeev as one of this generation’s most gifted product thinkers in the enterprise infrastructure space. Later, when Rajeev approached him with his ambition to rethink enterprise networking with Celona, he wanted to hear more. Arif soon met ‘wireless legend’ Mehmet Yavuz, Celona’s CTO, and his interest was well and truly sparked and a firm partnership was built.
Shirish Sathaye - General Partner at Cervin Ventures
Reason to invest: Celona is pioneering the potential of 5g in the enterprise
What he says:
“Celona is at the forefront of the next generation wireless revolution. Looking forward, Celona’s AI-powered platform will enable all sorts of new enterprise applications. This incredibly talented team is rethinking the paradigm for how enterprise developers will work with the network.”
The potential of 5G and the applications it will drive are still very much untapped. It’s fast - at least 10 times faster than the fastest 4G networks. It’s efficient – it can support a million connected devices per square kilometer. And with low latency, business-critical apps and devices will be the big beneficiaries. Even better, enterprises can ditch traditional carriers and build their own 5G networks. This is a big deal for dispersed environments such as airports, school campuses and stadiums. In short, Shirish knows that some enterprises will go all-in on 5G, and Celona will be there to support them.
As the very first investor in Aruba Networks, Shirish sees the parallels between the enterprise solution Aruba pioneered for Wi-Fi and Celona’s enterprise solution for the enterprise 5G network. Both act as controllers however their solution paths are different. For their Wi-Fi solution, Aruba required hardware controller along with an interface to communicate with the access points. Celona, however, can be software-only hosted in the cloud, and since the communication protocol for a cellular Radio Access Network (RAN) is already well established, it’s much simpler to implement.