Businesses and nonprofits regularly open and move in Saskatoon. Today, StarPhoenix speaks with Joe Donlevy who with Doug Konkin opened the Wipstream at Innovation Place in July to offer Internet improvements and solutions, primarily for people in rural areas where connectivity and reliability issues are frequent. They serve across Saskatchewan and are making inroads in Alberta and Manitoba. Eventually they plan to take over Wipstream through Canada, and then throughout North America.
Q: What internet service do you provide?
a: We work in rural areas and outside of major city environments where people have problems with the internet – they don’t have a lot of bandwidth and the connections there aren’t enough to meet today’s needs. They are waiting for the fibers or they are waiting for something else. They’ll get it one day, but it takes a long time to get all of this stuff out there. What we’ve done is we’ve developed – I think you could call it an Internet device – that dramatically improves the Internet experience on existing legacy systems. We call it Wipstream and we have a home business package and then a corporate package. Working from home is interesting because it takes whatever you have connected to it, be it Xplorenet, Satellite, SaskTel or something else, and uses it all, but when you need more, it will add a boost to it. It will boost your data bandwidth until such time as you don’t need the extra bandwidth, after which it will only allow you to run on your current connection. It will provide additional bandwidth for your network connection.
For example, when you’re online and probably have a Zoom call with someone but someone else in your house is hopping online and wanting to watch a movie, that’s probably too much no matter what your connection is. We’ll start adding bandwidth to make sure everyone gets the services they want.
Q: Do you provide services in major cities as well?
a: We are already in the cities and we have many facilities in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert etc, because sometimes your internet becomes unstable. So (our product) goes ahead and adds bandwidth or comes to us entirely if your internet connection drops. This is a special concern for our Sentinel Small Business product. For example, have you ever been to a restaurant where they say the internet is off, do you have any cash? So it won’t happen if you have Sentinel.
Q: Is there something else like Wipstream out there?
a: There are some pretty big industrial systems because the big companies are going to have alternative bandwidth connections and the like, but nothing else like what we’re doing.
Q: How did you develop this app?
a: I have been working in a different organization with school boards and such and trying to work with children in terms of getting them involved in education. And during the pandemic, schools I’ve been working with have asked me to come up with a way to connect children with distance learning, especially those who don’t have any access to anything. Schools must ensure that everyone can communicate. And so we did more than 3,000 families during the pandemic, 54 school divisions in Saskatchewan and Alberta. We were able to get the kids and get them to school and we learned a lot from that. And from that knowledge, we came to this. Wipstream is clearly a different app because it’s for people who have something, but we (take) everything we’ve learned in this world, and turn it into this.
Q: What service packages do you offer?
a: Mobile, home and guard
Webstream Mobile It is for people who don’t have anything or just want to put it in their camper while driving across the country or something. This is basically a mobile for $30 per month.
Home Wipstream Totally new. This costs $35 a month. All in all, this will be all that it will cost you.
Web Stream Ranger It goes out there like a home office. For most businesses, it’s between $40 and $50 a month. The small business market is not well taken care of – in particular, small businesses in small towns. The gas station or the restaurant in Debden or in Shonavon – who does anything for them? Well, so are we. We can say that this is our primary market – places where people cannot get anything else.
Q: What do you love most about running Wipstream?
a: I think Wipstream is a real problem solver and (I have) a real desire for people to be productive. If grandma is out on the farm and can’t zoom in with the grandkids, but they have a Wipstream, they can. If you’re a small business and you’ve lost touch, that’s a problem. Wipstream is not only nice to have, it’s not faster than just neighbor. Basically, these companies should own it.
Case in point, I have a business in a small town outside of Saskatoon. They were having a real problem with the internet. And that’s just an old connection. Now they turn to our devices maybe four times a day, and all of a sudden they don’t lose touch and can be very proud of their business.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
friends: Joe Donlevy, Doug Konkin, Weigers Financial and Benefits
Title: 107-116 Research Drive (Concourse Building in the Place of Innovation)
Check: FacebookAnd linked in
Have you recently started or moved to a new business or non-profit organization in Saskatoon? We want to hear your story. Please send an email to email@example.com
New faces, new places: The Saskatoon-born entrepreneur introduces a new line of non-alcoholic cocktails.
New faces, new places: Point N Shoot Rental offers space for budding photographers
New Faces, New Places: CountertopArt has something new to offer in the historic Elwood Flynn space
New Faces, New Places: An experienced chef from India brings a taste of his country to Samway Grill
The news seems to be flying towards us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics, crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With this in mind, Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an afternoon newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you’re up to date with the day’s news. Click here to subscribe.