Who hasn’t had this happen to them? You are working in a coffee shop and just when you need the internet most, it goes down.
For many of us, this experience creates frustration and then we move on. But when it happened to Denis Agarkov and Ion Beroiz, they decided to do something about it. And not just for themselves but also for others.
The two Los Angeles-based entrepreneurs began a discovery path that led them to decentralized wireless (DeWi). This journey has brought their company, Layer Zero, to the Pollen Mobile network.
Today, Layer Zero has deployed more than 130 Dandelion mobile network antennas in downtown Los Angeles and its Silver Lake neighborhood. They are continuing to build out the infrastructure, engaging with the business community and municipalities on the value of a privacy focused mobile network that is owned and operated by its users.
We interviewed Denis and Ion to learn more about Layer Zero and their DeWi plans for Los Angeles.
How did Layer Zero get started with Pollen?
Our experiences with Helium led us to look for an alternative. We connected with Pollen Mobile, early on in your rollout. We received our first Dandelion in March and installed it at our office building. We drove a few blocks away and connected on FaceTime with an employee in the office. The video quality was great.
Our reaction was: Wow, this works today, right now! And we thought: If we had more of these devices, we could get the network to work everywhere.
What’s your experience working with Pollen Mobile?
We love the team at Pollen, they are nimble and accommodating to deployers. We feel totally aligned with their vision of creating a truly usable DeWi network with sustainable growth. The Pollen team allows us to pitch crazy ideas and test out different use cases and they are obsessed with making the network usable. You can really tell that every two weeks Pollen goes through an iteration or improvement of their systems, that rhythm is exciting to us.
Can you share a customer example of how the Pollen mobile network is being used in Los Angeles?
We have worked with Cafe Dulce, a popular café and bakery here in LA, to deploy Dandelion antennas on the roofs of their shops. They are exploring how to use DeWi to help customers have reliable, high-speed internet while at their sites.
Cafe Dulce also recently hosted a Halloween event in Little Tokyo that attracted more than 1,000 people. The event ran in a temporary venue set up in a large parking lot.
In past years, conducting transactions at the event was a huge pain point due to poor, but still costly, wireless internet service. They would have sales that couldn’t be processed online and need to turn to paper-based transactions, which often led to customers later disputing sales with credit card companies.
This year, we deployed a Dandelion at the event site so Cafe Dulce could have about ten point-of-sale systems process sales online. It worked great and they saved thousands of dollars in wireless internet installation fees by using Pollen.
Do you have any tips for other entrepreneurs looking to get started with the Pollen network?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the team and introduce what you can bring to the table. The community is also welcoming and full of expertise and folks can find tons of information [out there.] We highly recommend joining one of the [community meetings] and learning more about the project.
What’s next for Layer Zero in your plans with the Pollen network?
We hope to light up enough nodes in Los Angeles to start linking coverage and bring more areas online. The newest high powered units offered by Pollen called Moonflowers are showing incredible performance. At first, we hope to build out use cases for more concentrated uses, around coffee shops and small businesses and as the coverage grows, we look forward to seeing people use Pollen on their phones.