However, Mark felt that although the product was a great success, it was really lacking a quality service provider. So he founded Ground Control in 2002 to be that provider.
Mark’s background in internet services rapidly propelled Ground Control to become a leader in mobile satellite-driven internet services in North America. As Mark states – “the key to growth was always quality customer service, quality hardware and a bit of good marketing. Word of mouth is what really propelled Ground Control.”
Mark Wright, founder of Ground Control, his famous mobile VSAT solution, and MCD case-based system. Ground Control continues to design and build VSAT and portable satellite internet solutions from its base in California today.
Phil Rouse, Founder of Wireless Innovation in the UK
Around this time, in 2004, there were some exciting developments in the UK. Phil Rouse wanted to transform the business he worked for into one solely focused on satellite, radio and WiFi. Given his proposal was based on a Management Buy Out, he also had to pitch Wireless Innovation to potential employees he wished to move across. Phil states – “I was really humbled by their response. There is always an element of risk and these people had families to support, burgeoning careers. But they trusted me. And they were completely onboard for the vision I had for Wireless Innovation from the very beginning.”
Phil already had great relationships with TSAT, an expert SCADA device manufacturer, and Iridium, a satellite network provider specializing in global, low latency M2M connectivity. These enabled a strong sales proposition, and within just six weeks, Phil’s team had brokered a sale with large Italian utility company Telespatio. Even with the experienced team, given how new the company was, this was no small feat.
Phil Rouse, founder of Wireless Innovation and current Ground Control Consultant, the Wireless Innovation team outside the Churcham Business Park office and the TSAT.
Ric Searle, Co-Founder of Rock Seven in the UK
Meanwhile, also in 2004, Ric Searle and Nick Farrell started Rock Seven, developing solutions based on cellular location services which were emerging at the time. Early applications tracked the location of engineers for electricity companies, so they could deploy the nearest, appropriately skilled engineer to attend to faults in the network.
As time progressed, Ric explains – “I stumbled across an opportunity to deliver a tracking system for offshore yacht racing, which led to us finding an Iridium tracking product and developing a race management system and viewer, that became YB Tracking. We eventually decided that we could develop better hardware ourselves… So we did.”
This ultimately led to Rock Seven’s reputation for reliable, accurate global tracking of personnel and/or assets via relatively small devices. More commercial applications, including fisheries, emerged later on. Due to their early experience in offshore yacht racing, maritime is still a large focus for Ground Control today.
Ric Searle, co-founder of Rock Seven and current Chief Technology Officer at Ground Control. Enhanced RockSTAR device, very popular among lone workers today.
As Alastair puts it – “we start by listening… a lot of the time the real problem that needs solving isn’t necessarily the one they brought to us in the first place and we’re very good at figuring out the underlying issue.”
When talking of the anniversary, Alastair states – “It says a lot about a business, that you stay in business for 20 years; the company is obviously good at what it does. But we’re also fresh; we bring the best of both worlds. Money can’t buy twenty years’ experience, but at the same time we’re fully focused on changing ourselves up, all the time, every year, something new, something better. How can we do a better job next year than we did this year? I think that’s what’s great for customers.”
Looking to the future, Alastair credits Horizon Capital with empowering the company to build new things, grow the team, bring in new skills, as well as retaining and protecting existing experience and expertise. Alastair concludes, – “we’ve been able to leverage our history, our existing resources and investment to build new things, and what comes out of that is something which is genuinely great for the market, and great for customers.”