The Ground Floor: Website allows internet providers to bid for business customers

Cedar Rapids-based company goal is to 'empower' consumers

Jeff Raasch
Published: March 26 2013 | 6:00 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 1:14 pm in
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The light bulb came on for Ben Anderson at a networking event for entrepreneurs.

As the speaker described feedback-based services, Anderson wrote “Bandwidth Pool” on a piece of paper. He registered the domain name that night.

Anderson, of Cedar Rapids, launched his latest enterprise on Feb. 27. Bandwidth Pool is a website that allows Internet providers to bid for business customers.

Businesses use a calculator on the site to determine how much bandwidth they need, and the bidding process helps find the best rate.

Anderson said the service is designed to assist businesses that spend more than $500 per month on Internet service.

“When a business registers with Bandwidth Pool, they create a request for bids,” Anderson said. “Similar to eBay, there’s an expiration time. Bandwidth Pool does the same thing.”

Anderson said each business pays a deposit to use the site to find Internet service. The deposit is refunded if the business signs up for service at the end of the bidding process. The site also allows businesses to rate Internet providers they used.

As of late last week, Bandwidth Pool represented 23 Internet providers based in Iowa and other states, all of which pay a fee to be able to bid.

“All the (Internet providers) you have heard of are with Bandwidth Pool today, but then we provide you with these ones that you haven’t heard of,” Anderson said. “Our goal is to benchmark an unknown against a known, and then empower you to decide.”

The way Anderson sees it, Internet providers can do more business if they convert more “window shoppers” into actual customers. His research shows that only a small percentage of people who receive a quote actually sign up for service, he said.

With his service, businesses are more serious about picking an Internet provider.

“We hope that by bringing those qualified, ready-to-buy businesses to the table, that’s what the incentive is for the providers to bid aggressively,” Anderson said.

With his business, Anderson hopes to help businesses avoid a mistake he made a few years ago. With Xwires Communications, another business he started, Anderson was attempting to secure an Internet provider for a student housing complex in Texas.

He did his research, but the provider he picked did not follow through with its guarantees about speed and reliability. It ended up costing Anderson a customer.

“You never like to make a big mistake like that,” Anderson said. “But that’s where I got to thinking, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this.’”

AT A GLANCE

Owner: Ben Anderson

Company: Bandwidth Pool

Address: 222 Third St. SE, Ste. 525

Phone: (319) 238-6136

Website: www.bandwidthpool.com

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