As an analyst for a Maryland venture capital firm several years ago, Gary S. Murray decided the fund should invest in a wireless Internet provider. There was only one problem: He couldn't find one in the area.
After searching for nearly two years, the partners at Murray's firm, HumanVision Technology Ventures, told him to stop talking about the idea and go make it happen.
Murray decided to test the idea by running a free connection to Georgetown Cafe in the District.
"They loved it," Murray said. "And then, after we got the first one, it was really easy to get the next few. When we hit about 30 locations we had to stop giving it away."
Now the firm, Wise Technologies, has more than 2,000 clients in the Washington area. Wise Technologies, Murray said, differs from its competitors by focusing on small, independent businesses that may be overlooked by large WiFi providers.
Murray's firm does all of the installation work for clients, and it partners with broadband firms to supply the connection. The company charges a setup fee and a percentage of the revenue from customers using the service.
Most clients, Murray said, charge customers about $6.99 a day to log on to their network.
Wise Technologies has focused mostly on restaurants and small businesses in the Washington area, but hopes to expand into other industries and geographic areas.
The company faces stiff competition from well-known WiFi providers such as T-Mobile International and Wayport Inc., but Murray hopes its local footprint will fuel growth in the coming years.