Four years ago, Erik Knight had a vision: to make networking simpler and easier.
He had gotten his start years earlier, first running an IT business and later launching a hosted VOiP company, both of which required him to jump in a truck on a moment’s notice and drive to sites all over the Phoenix metro area to fix on-site networking issues.
The “nightmare” of trying to cover a geographical region as vast as Maricopa County wore on him, and he figured there had to be a better way.
“Routers and firewalls have been around since the dawn of the Internet – you know, those little boxes that sit around and gather dust,” Knight says. “The old way of doing things was that every time you had to fix the box, you were running out to a site and physically doing it by hand. But times are changing, and we saw a way to put all of that intelligence into the cloud instead of in a box onsite somewhere.”
The result was SimpleWAN, which Knight and his partners launched in 2014. The company provides an all-in-one, cloud-based networking solution that’s fast, simple to set up, and – most importantly – easy to troubleshoot remotely.
The company’s product offers software-defined wide-area networks (or SD-WAN), managed Wi-Fi, real-time cybersecurity defense, firewall protections, content filtering, diagnostics monitoring services and automated security updating for users across a wide range of industries. It also provides regulatory compliance support for payments data and protected health information. Clients turn to SimpleWAN for an automated, centralized way to manage and secure IT infrastructure across multiple geographic locations, Knight says.
The company’s first connection with Arizona Commerce Authority programming was in 2016, when it applied on a whim to the Venture Madness startup competition. Knight credits the experience with helping the company forge valuable connections with Phoenix investors and business leaders – which in turn helped SimpleWAN close a round of funding during its second Venture Madness last year. And this fall, the company was named among six Arizona Innovation Challenge awardees, receiving capital to further grow its business.
SimpleWAN plans to use the funding to ramp up hiring and marketing efforts – and Knight credits the AIC experience with helping the company refine its pitch “into a more standard, investor-friendly experience,” he says.
And thankfully, he says, the innovations behind SimpleWAN have made his transportation nightmare a thing of the past.
“The old way to deal with these problems has been to get in a car or a plane and go fix them,” he says. “This allows the dream of truly remote ownership to become a reality.”