We talked to Sean Myers, co-founder of VETRO Fibermap, about how his team is innovating to deliver a solution to facilitate expanding broadband access across the country, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sean Myers: We are doing well, thank you for asking. With most restaurants and entertainment venues closed, we have found a new appreciation for our walks in the nearby woods and beaches.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded VETRO Fibermap.
Sean Myers: Before we started VETRO Fibermap, my career involved implementing GIS solutions for customers of environmental and engineering consulting companies. In some ways it is simply an extension of what I have always done with one significant difference – we have built, support, and are selling a SaaS product. This has been a new and amazing experience for me.
How does VETRO Fibermap innovate?
Sean Myers: Innovation comes to us in a couple of ways. Our customers – the people building the next generation of broadband – are some of the smartest people I have met and one of the biggest sources of innovation. We are constantly listening to them and sifting out ideas that will support our entire user base.
Secondly, we try to look at the broadband industry through an alternative lens and think about ways that broadband projects could be better deployed and managed. Any time you are disrupting a relatively older industry like we are, you have so much room to imagine better and more efficient ways to do things.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Sean Myers: We were fortunate to have a business that doesn’t require staff to be on-premise to do their work. I think we have managed well over these past several months. I do however miss the face-to-face collaboration. I think it is important for people to gather so they can share and explore ideas.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Sean Myers: Back in the late winter/early spring of 2020 we had to make some hard choices regarding staff. It was difficult for everyone, but we got through it.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, and how do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Sean Myers: Wow, that’s a big question(s). I always find time on weekends to take walks with the dog in nearby woods and along the beach. Taking that time lets me decompress but it is also an opportunity to find a perspective so I can focus on what is important and eliminate the noise.
As for the future, I see myself and the company building more tools and systems to help internet service providers and governments meet the demands for high-speed broadband. Rural areas need better access to high-speed broadband and urban areas need ways to make broadband more affordable to those that need it. There is a lot of work to do and a lot of momentum to make it happen.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sean Myers: We have several competitors that have good products, but I don’t think they have done enough to make significant impacts on the way broadband is planned, designed, built, and managed. Have we made significant impacts? I think we have made some and will continue to make more.
One of our primary goals when building VETRO was to make GIS easier for people to use. I can’t tell you how many GIS products go unused because of the needless complexity in the design of the software. I think we have met the goal of making GIS easier for the broadband industry to use but there is much still to do.
Your final thoughts?
Sean Myers: Building VETRO wasn’t part of some grand plan. It was an idea that developed as we started to take a deeper look into the broadband industry and some of the deficiencies we saw with simple mapping and record management of assets. It wasn’t however as easy as identifying a problem and solving it.
We had to imagine a whole new market for our product. We had to imagine electric cooperatives building broadband networks much like they did electrical networks in the early 20th century. We had to imagine small internet service providers filling in the gaps in the rural parts of the country and taking on incumbents with better and cheaper service in urban markets. Finally, we had to imagine governments comprehending the social value of broadband and assisting with the deployment of these networks.
A lot of this has already come to fruition and I think we are in a great position to help this industry successfully meet the demand for more broadband networks. In the process, we will continue to innovate on our product(s) and grow the business.
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