Interview with Willem Brinkert, Co-Founder of regioHelp
One shop – one stop for everything in the region!
Can you give us a quick overview of your organization and describe your role?
I am the CEO and general manager of BG Communications and the regioHELP Fiber group. For execution purposes, we have a marketing and acquisition company called regioHelp, including an acquisition team under the roof of BG Communications. And we have a general contractor company for basically executing our own fiber projects – building passive and active infrastructure that is then used to run an open access network with the help of, amongst others, COS Systems.
In each country where we deploy fiber, we have asset companies that hold and deploy these fiber projects, under the same roof. We have an asset company in Austria, as well as in Switzerland and Germany (beginning of 2023)
The idea is basically to deploy fiber networks and run them for 40 years plus construction time in each of the regions where we do it for groups of municipalities. And after these 40 years plus construction time – part of the revenue from running the networks goes into the ownership of the municipalities.
We let them participate in revenue-sharing models as well as in ownership-sharing models.
It’s highly incentivized – the municipalities themselves do the marketing for us by talking to other majors and other regions and that’s how we get supported by them.
How many employees do you have?
In the whole group, we have around 35 heads today and we plan to extend the team to around 150 people by April.
Who is your target customer?
We want to work together with municipalities, so our target customers are majors, not higher politicians. And obviously, our customers are also Service Providers on the networks that we deploy. And ultimately those that need us, the inhabitants of the regions.
What are your goals for the next three months?
- To secure the next equity round that we’re negotiating.
- To finalize the structure in Germany and Switzerland – hiring staff in both countries.
- To prepare everything for construction-start in April in Switzerland.
What are the biggest challenges on the horizon for your organization?
- Liquidity on one side- but that seems to be solved.
- People! We need to find the right people, at the right time and in the right spot.
- One challenge will be managing these heads in the beginning and getting from the start-up phase to a settled one.
Please describe a few of the reasons you decided to buy Service Zones and Business Engine.
Our idea from the beginning was to build an Open Access network with a shop/online marketplace system that highly automatizes everything for ISP as well as from the client side.
We wanted to develop it ourselves as I have an IT/engineering background. But when we chose Nokia as a hardware partner, they recommended COS Systems and said that COS can adapt the product to Regio Help’s needs.
It was important to us to be able to give feedback so that COS could adapt the product to regioHelp’s needs as we didn’t just want to sell only classical services that a normal ISP would sell.
We wanted to be able to use the shop/online marketplace as a regional shop. Selling groceries and authorizing the local pizza delivery service to sell their pizza over the marketplace e.g. increases the general take rates.
One shop – one stop for everything in the region.
We built a platform for our network. With COS, customers can choose any service (telephone, tv, etc. from different service providers) via the Online Marketplace – majors have been dreaming about this kind of digitalization for decades in order to strengthen their region and to keep the focus on regional products.
Our goal is to set up an online marketplace per community where all services can be purchased- increasing take rates.
Why should inhabitants get their internet anywhere else when they can get everything in one spot?!
How long have you been using our products?
Since September 2021. In November 2021 we made the decision to use COS and we have since been developing and adapting the tools to our needs.
At the moment we are negotiating a new contract before starting to work in other countries so we have a general agreement in place.
Are you likely to recommend our products to someone in a similar position as you? If yes, why? If not, why?
I would definitely recommend it to someone in a similar position outside my target area. I don’t want to recommend it to my competitors 😉
Working with COS is proactive and vision-oriented. We started from scratch and have the feeling that we are being listened to when we come up with new ideas.
How would you describe our product if you were explaining it to them?
The majority just doesn’t understand it. Ultimately, COS enables easy plug-and-play playing on a telco fiber infrastructure via bit stream.
Could we be doing anything else to keep you happy?
Keep investing in our good relationship.
We will always be in a developing phase. Never try selling us a ready-to-go product but keep developing it further with us. I want to have the ability to develop it further with suppliers and partners- keep adding ideas.
Why do you do business with us?
We talked to many Service Providers and suppliers who had no ambition at all to change or adapt. COS does! This is the most important component for us. We need to think differently and test and try.