Kenyan startup BRCK announced a $3 million funding round earlier this month, as investors recognized the value of the company’s namesake device that makes Internet connectivity accessible to every corner of the developing world. Participants included former AOL executives Jean and Steve Case, Jim Sorenson, TED, MKS Alternative Investments, Synergy Energy and JP-IK.
BRCK’s flagship product is a rugged box that connects to the cellular network and shares data as a Wi-Fi hotspot. It’s built for areas with limited electrical infrastructure, where wall outlets may be less common than solar panels, car batteries, and other power sources — it accepts energy from all those and more, and has an 8-hour battery reserve of its own.
The hardware is designed as an extendable platform, with expandable on-board memory and Arduino-compatible GPIO ports that can connect to sensors and other hardware. BRCK also provides a cloud service that allows BRCK owners to add software, top off SIM cards, and manage their devices remotely.
BRCK was initially Kickstarted in 2013 as a spin-off of Kenyan technology firm Ushahidi. Since then, the focus has been on using BRCK as a platform for making Internet connectivity available in the places it’s needed most.
CrisisStack is a suite of applications for disaster relief that runs on a combination of a BRCK and a Raspberry Pi, and can function even without a persistent data connection. Kio Tablets are touch-screen Android devices made for the classroom, especially in communities where traditional computer labs are impractical. They’re often distributed in kits that include up to 40 tablets, a BRCK for connectivity, and a lockable water-resistant storage case that can keep the lot charged with a single plug.
In a press release, investors praised BRCK’s “rapid but sustainable growth” as well as its pragmatic approach to overcoming the infrastructure and connectivity challenges that continue to keep billions of people from easily accessing the Internet.
To learn more, check out the video below.
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Author: Ted Burnham