Hardware / Internet / Technology

goTenna gets millions in venture money to get you off the grid

No service? No problem. What's interesting about goTenna is the dream of decentralized infrastructure.

goTenna in action. (Courtesy image)

Off-the-grid communications company goTenna received $7.5 million in venture capital investment last week, according to VentureBeat.

What goTenna does is allows you to bring a tiny communications tower with you wherever you go, turning your cellphone into a walkie-talkie, one that can communicate to anyone with the device in range. The concept was first announced in July 2014. Unlike handheld radios, though, the goTenna can either shout to all other users in range or communicate directly with specific users. So when you’re out of WiFi and too far from cell reception you can still use your phone to be in contact with others using goTenna.

The idea for goTenna came in October 2012, during Hurricane Sandy, according to the company: “Founders (and siblings) Daniela and Jorge Perdomo realized the clear need for people to be able to communicate without relying on cell service or wifi, all the while leveraging the smartphones everyone already has on them.”

The Perdomos worked out of Boerum Hill hackerspace NYC Resistor and built a prototype of their first goTenna product. Three years and almost $10 million in venture money later, that product is now being sold across the country in REI.

goTenna is exciting not only because its product is an innovation that’s never existed before and can do a cool thing but also because it could contribute to seriously decentralizing infrastructure.
In January we caught up with cofounder and CEO of fellow Brooklyn outdoorsy startup BioLite, Jonathan Cedar, who shared his vision on this topic. BioLite makes clean cookstoves that heat fires to their chemically optimal heat, converting nearly all that wasted smoke into heat energy. The stoves also have a thermodynamic component by which some of the heat they generate is converted into electricity, which can charge phones and lights. Cool for camping. Really cool for people in the developing world for whom the infrastructure of the state has not even come close to helping.
“What we aim to do is take all the things your municipality does for you with electricity and water,” Cedar said. “A lot of places in the world, the government doesn’t provide that. What would it look like to reinvent that infrastructure on a personal level where people can own it?”
goTenna cofounders Daniela and Jorge Perdomo will be hosting a Product Hunt live chat this Thursday at 11 a.m.

Series: Brooklyn

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