Millions of dollars from some venture capital firms are impacting the channel.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

August 9, 2019

4 Min Read
Fiber Optics
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Venture capital investment in early-stage firms – the ones that have the promise to scale and go public quickly – remains steady throughout the United States, and some of that funding is impacting the channel.

Early-stage deals amounted to $8.9 billion in the second quarter of 2019, according to financial data research company Pitchbook. And the technology sector attracted much of the attention.

That macro activity is seeping – albeit not to the tune of billions of dollars – into the channel. One micro example comes from Connected2Fiber, which in late July closed its most recent round of early-stage financing.

The channel-friendly vendor created, and continues to refine, a SaaS platform called The Connected World. Partners including managed service providers, VARs and traditional agents use The Connected World to locate and price the range of connectivity options, not just fiber, they sell. Connected2Fiber will put the $5.3 million it just raised toward product development and go-to-market strategies, especially for indirect partners.

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Connected2Fiber’s Ben Edmond

“The channel is going to benefit in a number of ways,” Ben Edmond, CEO and founder of Connected2Fiber, told Channel Futures. “We’ll be at Channel Partners Evolution again, actively engaging and showing not just the software platform, but also data, people and support.”

For example, expect Connected2Fiber to keep adding APIs to further automate pricing and service availability.

“This creates a better experience for sellers,” Edmond said.

Second, Edmond said, Connected2Fiber is increasing its global footprint.

“We’re investing in data and tools to empower someone to look across borders and understand the connectivity options, data-center fabric, cloud on-ramps and more,” he said.

The geographical expansion mainly applies to China and other parts of Asia, as well as to Africa. Connected2Fiber has coverage throughout Europe, Latin America, South America and, of course, the United States.

“As our customers express desire and demand, we shift our resources accordingly, and now we have more resources,” Edmond said.

Finally, Connected2Fiber is bolstering The Connected World’s capabilities, specifically with intelligence around location, network and other factors.

“One of the things we’re rolling out is a prospecting tool called Market Explorer,” Edmond said. “You look at the map and curate a list of ideal prospects across all dimensions like number of locations, presence in certain facilities, headquarters in that area, and then you see their company information such as website, phone number and LinkedIn profile. That all creates the actionable list.”

Importantly, The Connected World offers much more than fiber connectivity data. It also locates and prices wireless, LTE backup, coax, dark fiber, broadband and even copper facilities.

“We want to be agnostic even though the name implies fiber,” Edmond said. “We ultimately want to show options and empower sellers to make decisions for the best recommendations.”

That agnosticism and flexibility grow more important as channel partners help clients move from legacy networks to SD-WAN and enable overall digital transformation, Edmond pointed out.

In the meantime, Edmond predicts funding for the SaaS sector will keep growing.

“There’s a convergence of the physical and virtual worlds that’s happening at an unprecedented rate but there’s still a long way to go,” he said. “From our particular focus, over the last decade, horizontal platforms have dominated SaaS investments. Now there’s a pronounced shift to understand particular industries or sectors, and we’re seeing the response to that. There’s an appetite and real market to support the needs out there.”

The $5.3 million comes from the same set of investors – Ascent Venture Partners, Osage Venture Partners, Nauta Capital and NXT Ventures – that pumped $8 million into Connected2Fiber early last year.

Connected2Fiber also sells through network operators, many of whom have channel programs. FiberLight is one of those providers and championed Connected2Fiber’s new funding round.

“In my experience, there has been a gap in the connectivity space for quite some time around location intelligence,” Marc Dyman, chief revenue officer of FiberLight, said in a press release. “Whether selling or buying connectivity, market players have often had to rely on manual and inefficient methods of understanding which networks are connected at which locations and what tenants occupied those locations. Connected2Fiber has solved this problem for FiberLight with location-specific insights and applications, making sales enablement, market analysis and sharing fiber routes within a trusted ecosystem much more seamless.”

Edmond founded Connected2Fiber in 2015.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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