We're starting 2021 off by launching our next service product: Assist. A new I.T. management service that helps automate all the complexities of technology for small business America. Given you're reading this blog, you may already know who we are. Still, as we push into this new digital direction and expand our potential audience, I thought it essential that in these first blog posts, I take the opportunity to tell our story of how we arrived here and who we are at 32Waves.
On a day-to-day basis, at the time of this post, we are a team of five: Me (Colter), Nick, Eli, Chris, and Seth. Together we amount to a company that has historically provided internet service to our neighbors in rural Grand Junction, CO. In the early days of just Nick and myself, we started 32Waves because we had friends running local businesses that needed a better internet solution - one that gave them the bandwidth they needed to keep up with the demands they saw in their work every day. From software changes, cloud technologies, phone technologies, and hiring, small businesses were held back because they couldn't get affordable internet service.
At the time, I was working out of my garage and Nick out of his. After pounding the proverbial pavement for solutions that these businesses needed, we found there wasn't a single feasible option. Our town was just too small for the big ISPs to care, and this was something we were going to need to build ourselves if we were serious about helping. So, we did what any rural country boys would do when they needed to build a cutting edge broadband delivery system: we went to Home Depot.
Who We Are
Now, this is where I tell you that I have a strong background in tech. I started at 14 building and repairing computers for my neighbors in Parachute, Colorado, where my single mother, me, and my two siblings lived scarcely in our double-wide trailer. When you live on the edge of poverty, your life ambitions are solely enabled by what you can do with only your mind and two hands. I happen to have an obsession with computers and a quick learning ability, so I turned it into a small profit center that helped out my mom and occasionally bought me a few C.D.s and DVDs when I could.
From there, I kept starting new things, taking contracts that I was WAY underqualified for, and relying on my keen sense of grit and my gift of learning fast to keep me ahead of the curve. Throw in a little college rigor after high school, and eventually, I arrived at the person I am today: a founder in multiple ventures, some successful, most utter failures, and the kind of person that obsesses over building neat new things.
On the opposite side of my wandering career is Nick. Nick's always the responsible adult in the room with a reliable job and a unique depression-era view on financial management for a guy no older than 35 when we met. He's conservative, thoughtful, and the kind of person that once he has a task, you can bet he'll figure out how to get it done properly. Nick's spent most of his prior professional career managing large events for huge automotive companies. You wouldn't be wrong if you assume that when a major auto company debuted a sleek new car, Nick probably had a hand in all the events that launched it around the U.S. The time spent in this job built him an unmatched skillset in logistical organization and people management. Many years later, and countless ambitious new projects we've taken on at 32Waves, he's still the most responsible, reliable, and compassionate person I've ever met.
Setting Out to Solve a Problem
Fast forward to us walking into Home Depot. After we decided the best people to build a carrier-grade broadband network were two underqualified dudes looking for something to do, we started looking around for a way to construct a large metal frame. It needed to act as a mounting surface for a few wireless radios we thought could solve our internet delivery problem. Our research had told us that trying to bury wires in the ground along roads around the city was WAY out of our reach, so the next best thing was to build a delivery system that could do so wirelessly over a distance of a few miles.
We'd start in a taller building where Fiber was already available, mount and plug-in new radios on the roof, and shoot the connection signal over to the nearby businesses. After some phone calls, we learned that not anyone was willing to let some nobodies mount a large rack to the roof of their multi-million dollar building. So we had to design around some concessions: the rack couldn't physically modify the building at all. We couldn't drill in or attach to a building, and above all, it had to be easily removed in case we were indeed crazy, and all this failed.
We walked around Home Depot for a couple of hours exploring ideas, and eventually, we settled on using chain link fencing material to build a cubic 12-foot hexagonal rack. The self-supporting structure could then be held in place by a few strategically placed sandbags.
We spent a week cutting poles, fastening them together, and convincing local building owners to give us a shot. It worked. We got our first building agreement and signed a fiber service contract. We then took our garage-built tower frame and deployed our first wireless connection to a local business. All in, we had solved our first client’s internet problem in under a month. We improved their connection by nearly 100x the speed (1.5Mbps to 100Mbps) for a fraction of the cost ($1,000/month to $150/month).
We were in business. Far from profit or even making enough to pay our expenses, but we did it. We built something meaningful, something that seemed so foreign, highly technical, and impossible to do without large amounts of money or the sophistication of a multi-million dollar enterprise. The business owner was very pleased, word spread, and five years later, we serve hundreds of people in our community with a homegrown internet solution that rivals corporate offerings on reliability and speed at a fraction of the cost.
It's proof that even in the modern world dominated by advanced technology and billions of dollars in budgets, two homegrown dudes in a garage can still build the cutting-edge solutions to things their neighbors need.
A Solution for Rural Small Business
As we've grown 32Waves, we have built this story's mantra into our business's fabric. Build things people need and do it with determination, ingenuity, and above all, lots of care. It's in our bones. Over the years, we've built many nuanced solutions: municipal wifi solutions, event venue network platforms, recreational park internet/wifi solutions, customer service software, and much more.
While we’ve grown, a few things remain the same—we try to use that gift to make the world a better place, one solution at a time. Now, our focus is on the underdogs, the ones ignored by corporate America. We want to be the team that helps solve rural small business needs—bringing essential modern technology to every small town business; no bullshit, no complexities, just a simple solution to get us all what we need. That's what we do every day, it's where we live and raise our families, and it's where we'll continue to focus our future with new products and services like our garage born internet service and brand new Assist I.T. services.
If you are a rural small business that needs innovative I.T. to get the job done, we would love to serve you. Thank you for reading our story, and feel free to text us at 970.316.3131 for more information.
- Colter L., Founder and CEO