When Yen Pei Tay looked at smartphones, he saw a problem. “You’re constantly searching for Wi-Fi and entering passwords,” he says. So he imagined a technology that would enable seamless navigation across Wi-Fi networks without passwords. This imagination led Yen Pei to create Simplify.
The technology was novel – in fact, Nextwave, Yen Pei’s parent company for Simplify, received a patent in the United States. But, shares Yen Pei, “It wasn’t quite catching on”. So, while he had more than a decade of experience at IBM, Motorola, and Nokia, Yen Pei felt he needed rigorous feedback from a broader network.
At first, Yen Pei enrolled in the MIT Bootcamp’s online courses. Through Entrepreneurship 101 and Entrepreneurship 102, recounts Yen Pei, “I began to rethink Simplify’s B2B business model”. “With a technology that auto-connected mobile devices to Wi-Fi and sent Wi-Fi passwords seamlessly to devices over the mobile network, our primary customers are telecom operators,” explains Yen Pei. “We were caught in limbo as our global partnership with Nokia faltered due to Nokia’s never-ending transformations and its device business sale to Microsoft. So it was very clear to us that we badly needed to find alternatives to end our continuous struggle in the telco market segment.”
That is why Yen Pei took the step of attending the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. “I came to MIT to validate the concept of Wi-Fi sharing, leveraging the same technology the we had built. At the Bootcamp, with feedback from mentors and investors, we got a real reboot as a C2C business.”
However, as helpful as the MIT program was for Yen Pei’s business model, he found the greatest value in something much more personal – the MIT Bootcamp network. “The high-quality engagement and dedicated support rendered from this MIT fraternity is the most valuable thing to add to our entrepreneurial journey,” says Yen Pei. “You realize that you’re no longer alone, instead you’re now part of a global community of entrepreneurs, supporting each other.”
February 13, 2017
Simplify selected by Fast Company’s 50 most innovative companies in 2017