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Transcelestial raises Series A Funding to tackle Global Last Mile Connectivity Challenges

Singapore – July 3, 2020 Transcelestial, the company building the future of Internet Distribution, today announced that it has closed USD 9.6M in Series A funding, co-led by EDBI, a Singapore Government investment arm, and Wavemaker Partners.  

This Series A round includes participation by new investors Airbus Ventures, Cap Vista, the strategic investment arm of the Defence Science and Technology Agency of Singapore, Partech and Tekton Ventures, with participation from existing investors Entrepreneur First and SEEDS Capital, an investment arm of Enterprise Singapore, and 2 previous angels. 

Global Internet Distribution Challenge 

The Internet is delivered to your mobile, tablet or computer broadly through three main steps: 
  • Undersea Cables - Data hosted in other countries (e.g. YouTube videos, Web Conference calls, etc.) is channeled through massive fibre pipes sitting at the bottom of the ocean between continents. These cables carry almost 99% of the world’s data.
  • Inter- & Intra- city fibre - Once these undersea cables come up to a country or continent, telecoms and governments build 100kms of national fibre grids to carry this data to larger cities and smaller towns. Larger cities usually have a mini grid of core fibre further bringing data to municipalities. 
  • Last Mile Connectivity - Finally, ISPs, telecoms, and other providers then take this data and use a mix of fibre and wireless technologies (mmWave, 4G, etc) to deliver it to homes, offices, hospitals, schools, and cell towers. 
Severe bottlenecks in all levels of the above architecture results in massive rollout costs, leading to more than 50% of the world left unconnected entirely OR connected but with extremely poor access to the Internet. The outcome is that large swaths of the global population are hence prevented from accessing life-changing and economy-driving tools and services offered by the Internet. 

“One of the core motivations to start Transcelestial has been inspired by my personal experiences with internet access growing up in Jamshedpur. The first day at my university in Singapore I experienced the content and collaboration that comes with high speed internet - it was revolutionary! At Transcelestial, we want to offer such an opportunity, experience and revelation upon everyone who wishes to push our civilization faster and further,” said Rohit Jha, CEO and Co-Founder of Transcelestial.  

Using the USD 1.8M Seed Round raised in 2018, Transcelestial built a world-class team to develop a proprietary Wireless Laser Communication (a.k.a Wireless Fibre Optics) technology which combines the speed of fibre optics with the flexibility of radio waves in order to overcome some of these bottlenecks.  

Transcelestial has been selectively running closed beta trials of this technology with telcos in Asia to address the first and the toughest Internet Distribution Challenge - Last Mile Connectivity. 

5G, COVID-19 and the Last Mile Connectivity Challenge 

With the sudden advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of Last Mile Connectivity to our homes, offices and cell towers (which in turn bring data to your phones) has become critical. Almost every country has seen a rise in 35-45% in Internet usage pre- vs post- COVID. This creates pressure on existing Last Mile Distribution networks.  

Along with this increase, global push for 5G adoption requires us to move from 4.5million small cells on towers to roughly 40million (as 5G is a shorter distance technology and hence one needs more cell towers to cover the same area) in the next 5 years. By 2025, South East Asia will contribute towards almost 29% of the total global new deployments in 5G adoption.  

This growth demands providers to invest in high CAPEX fibre cable deployments which is nearly impossible in not only low-to-middle income economies but also in various urban and suburban parts of high-income economies.  

“Even prior to the widespread adoption of work-from-home practices, the demand for data has been on a secular uptrend. Transcelestial’s cost-effective, high-speed wireless fibre optics is well positioned to fulfill this global need for connectivity. SEEDS Capital’s follow-on investment into Transcelestial aims to support the further commercialization of its cutting-edge wireless laser communication technology,” said Geoffrey Yeo, General Manager of SEEDS Capital. 

CENTAURI - Replacing Cables on the Ground 

CENTAURI is our mass-produced network device which leverages our proprietary Wireless Laser Communication Technology to create a wireless distribution network between buildings, traditional cell towers, street-level poles and other physical infrastructure. 

It is the size of a shoe-box, weighing less than 3kg and capable of delivering true fibre-like speeds to customers at fraction of the cost of traditional fibre. 

At launch, there are two versions of devices available - 1 Gbps Full Duplex (4G & Enterprise ready) and 10 Gbps Full Duplex (5G-ready). Higher bandwidth capabilities will be unlocked and available for order shortly. 

CENTAURI is aimed at providing a rapidly deployable, affordable, low cost and high speed Last Mile Connectivity solution which speeds up adoption of 4G and 5G globally, specially dense residential areas during COVID-19 period which require urgent bandwidth upgrades.  

“With the Series A capital raise, we are now working actively to get CENTAURI in the hands of customers globally within the next 12 months. In order to deliver on this global promise, we have set up a manufacturing capability which will scale into the world’s largest for production of CENTAURI class Wireless Fibre Optics devices. This will bring our groundbreaking proprietary technology of real time optical alignment and weather compensation to within a commercial price point,” said Dr. Mohammad Danesh, CTO and Co-Founder of Transcelestial.  

“As the front runner in laser communications technology, Transcelestial’s CENTAURI platform will help catalyse the adoption of 5G communications, a key enabler for the next wave of growth in the digital economy, including areas such as smart cities, industry 4.0 and urban mobility”, said Chu Swee Yeok, Chief Executive Officer and President of EDBI.  “EDBI is pleased to be supporting a home grown company that is developing its talent pool and IP portfolio in Singapore to better seize opportunities in next generation communications technology.” 

"Transcelestial has created a patent-pending terrestrial laser communications system that can deliver over 10 gigabits per second even during heavy rains. What’s even more impressive is that the team achieved this in two years with only USD1.8M in seed capital by combining proprietary software with off-the-shelf hardware components. Transcelestial has also received solid commercial interest from corporates all over the region, which is a testament to the strength of the product and the team," said Paul Santos, Managing Partner of early-stage venture capital firm Wavemaker Partners. 

“Even as investors who strive to back truly disruptive and visionary tech entrepreneurs, it is not often that we come across technology that can provide access to the digital online world for billions of people, everywhere. By taking the physical wire out high bandwidth/high speed communications, Transcelestial holds the potential to make ubiquitous uncompromised internet access a reality.” said Nicolas El Baze, General Partner at Partech. 

One more Thing… 

As we continue to fight for the first of that Distribution Challenge, Last Mile Connectivity, the team at Transcelestial believes that the biggest wins can only come from an orbit-based distribution approach to resolve the first two Global Internet Distribution problems.  

Towards that, Transcelestial will be developing a constellation of small satellites in Low Earth Orbit with the aim of delivering an ultra high speed backbone network connectivity, unparalleled in throughput and cost per bit. The key element will be the usage of Transcelestial’s Wireless Laser Communication Technology to deliver end-to-end fibre-equivalent speeds as data backbone.  

“At Airbus Ventures we’ve been particularly impressed to see how Rohit, Danesh, and the Transcelestial team have built crucial connectivity elements that have immediate application in these challenging times, and now have a solid basis to develop these capabilities toward a game-changing leap in connectivity delivered from Low Earth Orbit,” comments Thomas d’Halluin, Airbus Ventures Managing Partner based in Menlo Park California.  Adds Dr. Lewis Pinault, Partner for Asia Pacific based in Tokyo, “as our first investment in Singapore we’re pleased to have such a marquee company as Transcelestial to help us widen our presence in the region, and we look forward to opening our new offices in Singapore in close partnership with the outstanding co-investors Transcelestial has attracted. 

“Space-based laser communications is the future of Internet connectivity happening right at our doorstep. With the backdrop of burgeoning growth in Southeast Asia, we believe that Transcelestial’s Wireless Laser Communication Technology will disrupt and enable unprecedented connectivity within the region and beyond. More than that, we see Transcelestial playing a key role in putting Singapore Spacetech on the map, and seeding the growth of the regional Spacetech ecosystem as well,” said Chng Zhen Hao, CEO of Cap Vista. 

More key features, timelines, partnerships and other details of the space network will be revealed in the near future.  

Stay tuned at our website www.transcelestial.com for more OR follow our twitter channel @trans_celestial 

About Transcelestial 

Transcelestial is building a space laser network to deliver a step-change in internet connectivity globally. This will be the fastest way to bring the rest of the world up on the bandwidth and connectivity curve. Right now, we are using the same technology on the ground as a  "wireless fibre optics" - with a much lower TCO than fibre for telcos and enterprises.  

Transcelestial has won numerous industry and global awards such as SPIFFY San Andreas Award for Most Disruptive Technology by Telecom Council, Forbes 30 Under 30 to our CTO Dr. Mohammad Danesh, The Most Ambitious Start-Up in Photonics Award by The Optical Society (OSA), etc. 

Founded in Dec 2016, the Transcelestial team is located in Singapore and is backed by major investors such as Wavemaker Partners, SEEDS Capital, Entrepreneur First, 500 Startups, AirTree Ventures, SGInnovate, SparkLabs Global Ventures, Michael Seibel (CEO of Y-Combinator), Charles Songhurst (Microsoft’s former Head of Corporate Strategy), Josh Manchester(Champion Hill Labs) and other investors.  

Media Contact: 

Airbus Ventures 

Airbus Ventures is the venture capital arm of Airbus, inheriting its adaptive innovation, system thinking and international mindset. Building on this heritage, Airbus Ventures closely supports its portfolio companies to better understand, team and promote their founders’ businesses. 

For more information, visit https://airbusventures.vc/ 

Cap Vista 

Cap Vista Private Limited is the strategic investment arm of the Defence Science and Technology Agency. Cap Vista’s mission is to identify and make strategic venture investments in local and overseas emerging and early-stage companies that develop cutting-edge technologies. Cap Vista brings value by opening doors to its extensive network of partners, both locally and overseas, as well as other Singapore government agencies. For prospective companies focused on commercial markets, Cap Vista helps to identify the dual-use potential of their cutting-edge technologies. 

For more information, visit https://www.capvista.com.sg/

EDBI 

Investing since 1991, EDBI is a Singapore-based global investor in select high growth technology sectors ranging from Healthcare (HC), Information & Communication Technology (ICT), Emerging Technology (ET), and other strategic industries. As a value creating investor, EDBI assists companies in achieving their ambitious goals by leveraging our broad network, resources and expertise. With our growth capital, EDBI supports companies seeking to grow in Asia and globally through Singapore. 

For more information, visit https://www.edbi.com/

SEEDS Capital  

As the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore, SEEDS Capital catalyses smart investments into innovative Singapore-based startups with strong intellectual content and global market potential. We co-invest with independent investors in innovative startups. We help our startups commercialize and expand globally through leveraging on the expertise and strategic networks of our co-investment partners in areas such as technology translation, commercialization and market expansion. Through co-investments, SEEDS Capital aims to catalyze investments into nascent and strategic sectors. These include Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering, Health & Biomedical Sciences, Urban Solutions & Sustainability, and Services & Digital Economy.  

For more information, visit https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/

Entrepreneur First 

Entrepreneur First (EF) is a talent investor, founded in London in 2011 by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck to support the world’s most ambitious individuals build globally important companies.  

EF’s bespoke programme, the first of its kind in the world, invests time and money in outstanding individuals, helping them to find a co-founder, develop an idea and create a high-growth technology company from scratch. To date EF has helped over 2000 individuals build more than 300 companies, with a total valuation of $2 billion. EF’s companies have been funded by many of the leading venture investors in Europe, Asia and Silicon Valley. 

EF itself is backed by some of the world’s best investors, including the founders of LinkedIn, DeepMind and PayPal and runs cohorts in Toronto, London, Singapore, Berlin, Paris and Bangalore. Major exits to date include Avocarrot, Represent, Bloomsbury.ai, and Magic Pony Technology, which sold to twitter for a reported $150m just 18 months after the founders met on EF. 

For more information, visit https://www.joinef.com/

Partech 

With a current portfolio of almost 180 companies spread across 30 countries in Europe, the US, Africa, and Asia, Partech has been one of the leading international investors helping visionary founders for almost 40 years. The Partech team – made up of both former entrepreneurs and executives from 15 different countries – brings capital, experience, strategic support, and networks to entrepreneurs at every stage of development: seed, venture, and growth. With over €1.5B under management, Partech invests from €200K to €50M in B2B and B2C technologies reshaping industries. Companies backed by Partech have completed more than 21 IPOs and more than 50 strategic M&A transactions valued over $100M. See Partech's current portfolio.

For more information, visit https://partechpartners.com/ 

Tekton Ventures 

For more information, visit https://tektonventures.com/

Wavemaker Partners 

Wavemaker Partners is Southeast Asia’s go-to seed-stage VC for enterprise and deep tech with 100+ investments (85% of total portfolio) in the space. Its portfolio includes startups in software, AI and cybersecurity as well as precision agriculture, cleantech, additive manufacturing and laser communications. Recent exits include Moka’s and Coins.ph’s acquisitions by Gojek, Red Dot Payment by PayU/Naspers and Wavecell by 8x8. 

For more information, visit http://wavemaker.vc/

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