Internet connectivity plays a vital role in the success of every business. However, if a tenant only discovers after signing a ten-year lease that new office space has low connectivity capacity, offers little choice of internet service provider, and has no resiliency in case of accidents, then it’s too late.
Until now, developers, landlords and agents have had no means of articulating just how good the connectivity in their buildings is, and occupiers have been left to make critical business decisions – such as where to base their growing company—in the dark. We spoke to William Newton, President and EMEA MD, at WiredScore to find out how they are tackling this issue.
Let’s start by describing in your words what your company is and what it does?
At WiredScore, we want to open the dialogue around the digital infrastructure of buildings and give people the tools to determine if a building is the right fit for a company. With our Wired Certification, we’re able to provide developers, landlords and tenants alike with a trusted, independent rating that lets them know whether a space has the digital capacity to meet a business’s technology needs.
What do you think makes it distinct to any other companies – what’s its USP?
Our Wired Certification is an industry-first benchmark for commercial property connectivity for landlords and developers. The certification not only helps landlords and developers better understand their digital infrastructure and how well it meets the needs of their current and future tenants, but also helps them market the positive investments they’ve made in digital infrastructure to sell to potential clients.
The standards were developed by an advisory board of experts and vetted by key telecom, real estate and tech stakeholders. We’ve also ensured that our four levels of Wired Certification – Platinum, Gold, Silver and Certified – are global standards, comparable across the different regions that we’re operating in, so that if a company knows that if a Silver Certified building in London meets their needs, they can be confident that a Silver Certified building in New York also would.
This has to take into account differences in how the digital infrastructure in a city is built and managed – for example, in Paris all the fibre cables run through the sewers. I’m not sure that Tamara Brisk, Director of France, realised we’d be sending her down into the sewers when she got the job…
What is your personal background?
I began my career as a Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company, before moving into the public sector to work as a senior policy advisor in both the Cabinet Office and 10 Downing Street. While Tom Redmayne, Director of Business Development UK&I, with whom I set up the UK business, was previously a surveyor at Cushman & Wakefield with a keen interest in tech, after having worked with Juliette Morgan, the former head of property for Tech City. I believe our differing, yet complimentary backgrounds were crucial WiredScore UK to becoming a success.
What is the story of the company from launch until now?
The concept of WiredScore was first developed in New York in 2013 by leaders in real estate, technology and telecommunications – including Google and Cisco, and with endorsement from Mayor Bloomberg – with the goal of improving the city’s connectivity infrastructure.
In 2015, then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, noted the initiative on a trip to New York, after which the Greater London Authority put out a tender for a similar digital rating scheme for London. WiredScore won the tender and since its launch has been met with enthusiasm from occupiers, landlords, developers and office leasing agents alike, with 40 m sq. ft of commercial buildings and developments already committed to the certification programme across the UK.
And this year we’ve already launched in two more European cities, France and Ireland, and are preparing for our German launch in September – basically, we’re growing fast.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your company?
The greatest challenge was getting the idea off the ground initially – it’s not easy to get a concept that no one has ever heard of working!
Ultimately, we couldn’t have done it without the forward thinking developers, agents and landlords that saw the Wired Certification as valuable from the outset – especially as it’s “a standard”, so the business concept needs a lot of people to buy into it for it to work. Our first customers really took a leap of faith in Wired Certification and what it would become.
What’s your biggest milestone/ which are you most proud of?
One of the biggest milestones for the company globally was when the city of Boston signed a memorandum of understanding for WiredScore to certify all new developments to ensure that they are equipped with high-speed Internet access. Boston’s Department of Innovation and Technology and Planning and Development Agency truly understand the importance of connectivity to the future of the city, so it was a great proof of concept that we can work with them on ensuring that all their new developments are broadband ready and future-proofed.
I’m also so proud of our European expansion – we’ve made some really great additions to the WiredScore team across Ireland, France and Germany and are already seeing such a positive response from the industry in each of those regions.
The highlight of that expansion has probably been when WiredScore was awarded the prestigious label of excellence from the French Finance Innovation cluster, the ministerial committee in charge of promoting economic development and competitiveness in France. This was great validation of the value and benefits of Wired Certification.
What is your business model? How have you monetised your product?
We’ve chosen to charge for the Wired Certification itself, so having our team come into the building to determine the rating. However, we also provide additional consultancy, contracting, and marketing support for free.
The reason we chose not to charge for our consultancy is so that we could be completely dispassionate when certifying buildings. We don’t want people to suggest that we would give buildings lower grades so that we can then upsell in consultancy to help them “get to the next level”.
What’s the next step for growth – is the intention to grow the business independently, or look for an exit via acquisition or similar?
Ultimately, our mission is to be the world’s digital connectivity rating scheme – expanding across Europe, North America and Asia. We recently launched in Germany and Canada, but for what’s next you’ll just have to wait and see…