Pronto Networks Readies With $5M

Two-year old Wi-Fi infrastructure developer Pronto Networks of Pleasanton, Calif., secured $5 million in its initial round of venture financing to fund product development efforts and boost the company’s head count.

Silicon Valley’s Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) led the round. Intel Capital also participated alongside the company’s founders and management team. DFJ director Andreas Stravopoulos has taken a seat on the company’s board, while Intel Capital’s Sriram Viswanthan will have observer rights.

Pronto Networks supplies end-to-end infrastructure for wireless hot spot operators – access points, access gateways, billing, network monitoring and user authentication. It’s found in airports, cafes, hotels, marinas, train stations and theaters.

The company sells directly to network operators like Deep Blue Wireless, a San Francisco-based company that builds hot spots in Bay Area cafes and hotels. Deep Blue Wireless is typical of Pronto Networks’ customers: With less than 50 hot spots, it is a mid-sized independent wireless network operator. Other Pronto Networks customers include Access Anyplace, Celerity Wireless, Fortifire, GlobalTouch, iDockUSA, Infra Tech Network Communications, Webcast US, Wireless Evangelists and Wireless Hotspot. Although its customer base is concentrated in the United States, Pronto Networks’ customers operate networks as far away as Mexico and Portugal.

Internally financed by the company’s founders and angel investors through an initial product launch, Pronto Networks will use its new cash to begin to target larger wireless network operators that manage 500 hot spots to 1,000 hot spots. It will add another 25 people to its 30-man development team in Bangalore, India, and another 15 people to its 25-person corporate team in Pleasanton, Calif. It also plans to build a sales and marketing effort in Asia, where it already has customers in Malaysia and Singapore.

Before the end of the year, the company expects to have 5,000 systems in place, says Pronto Networks Chief Executive Jasbir Singh. Singh is also the chairman of Launchpad Software and the Cybermine Internet Incubator, both in Emeryville, Calif.

Pronto’s success, however, will depend on how quickly users adopt Wi-Fi technology, the number of users with Wi-Fi-enabled devices and whether they’ll be willing to pay for hot spot service.

“Growth depends on technology adoption by users and a proliferation of Wi-Fi users and Wi-Fi laptops,” Singh says.

Both Pronto Networks and Intel are banking on the technology. In October, Intel Capital earmarked $150 million for Wi-Fi investment as Intel Corp. prepares the launch of its first wireless chipset later this year. This is Intel Capital’s tenth wireless deal to close in the last 12 months.

Contact Carolina Braunschweig