Sunday, April 5, 2015

Our Newest WiFi Product: The Wirie pro!

I have been wanting to write a blog about our newest Wirie product for quite some time, but – as with all new releases – you never really know what will happen (Will it be a success? Will there be any issues? Will we be able to sell enough to make it all worthwhile? Will everybody be happy and satisfied?), and I was a bit anxious to “jump the gun”. Now, three months and many sales later, I am confident to share how it all happened, and how The Wiriepro was born. For all of you who have always wondered what Mark and I, but especially Mark, do all day, read on!

In January 2014, Mark was a bit bored with our boating lifestyle and needed an intellectual challenge, while we were in the Marquesas. He had been having great ideas in the past about building an improved long range internet system that would combine WiFi and 2G/3G/4G, but our remote locations, poor WiFi sources, challenging lives and the lack of suitable materials to use, had put him off. When I returned from Belgium that February, he had me bring a few 3G routers, outlined his ideas, and it all started from there…

For months, he looked into possible ways to create a router that would suit our needs, he did research whenever he could (quite difficult with the unreliable internet conditions in French Polynesia) and became excited about the project, but a bit frustrated about being in the middle of nowhere at the same time. Then, something totally unexpected and scary happened, for which we were forced to return to the United States for over three months. The good thing about this event, was that Mark could focus on the new product in comfort and with all of the needed resources at hand. We could order parts to try and test, we could do research in between doctor visits, we could communicate with manufacturers and we could even make phone calls! A large portion of his time went to the design and development of the software that would eventually combine WiFi and 3/4G into a single product that was easy to use.  Those summer months in the US were very productive and the new product took shape, albeit not physically yet.

Once we were back on Irie in Tahiti, mid-August 2014, the main focus remained on the business. We brought a prototype router with us, chose anchorages based on internet availability and we stayed as long as the different stages of the development and planning required. We found a manufacturer who would build our custom designed router and sourced companies for all the other parts. We took care of existing customers and kept working on the new products for a future customer base. We extended and updated the website, decided on names for the new Wiries, wrote manuals and quick start guides, and launched the first of our new line of products, The WirieAP+, which offers WiFi only and is a significant upgrade over our previous product, The Wirie AP.

When the new xG router was finished, we received a unit in French Polynesia and the software and hardware testing continued in earnest. Mark improved and adjusted, we wrote press releases, revised manuals, and did odds and ends that were needed to launch the other two products. In the meantime, our partner in the US helped by planning and designing all the manufacturing aspects of the new products. Life on board was hectic, exciting, frustrating, nervous and stressful at the same time! But, with our new product, we could now even receive emails in the most remote and protected bays, where we sat out storms. Since we installed our Wiriepro, we have never been without internet at anchor on Irie. And even underway, we pick up WiFi signals and 2G/3G/4G from much further away.
We were hoping to be done with all the preparations by Christmas, but who can blame us for not making that fictitious deadline?

On January 5th, 2015, we felt “ready to do business” and officially launched The WiriexG (2G/3G/4G service only) and our revolutionary all-in-one Wiriepro from Huahine, French Polynesia. Of course, the press release states Newbury, Massachusetts, USA, where the company is located! :-) Since then, we have had very positive feedback and we have sold and shipped units all over the world. A few magazines have requested units to test and review. To see the newest article about WiFi on boats, featuring our Wiriepro, check out the May issue of Cruising World! Happy reading and surfing the web!

For more information about all our Wirie products, check out www.thewirie.com


One of the routers I brought from Europe for Mark to test - we did not go with a stock one


Precariously placed and attached prototype router - for months, we had to be careful sitting down on the settee!

An external DIY circuit board from SV Pitufa helps Mark to access the serial console of the prototype router

Working from morning (calling Wirie customers)...

... to late afternoon with the sun in his eyes ...

... and sometimes at night, while I do other tasks (like putting away groceries).
 
Building a router case from cardboard - using the drawings - to define where all the ports need to be placed on the final router

The router case needs to be built and placed up to Mark's specs to fit perfectly in the waterproof enclosure

Even underway, when the seas are calm enough (here from Taha'a to Huahine), Mark is working on the software development of The Wirie pro

The final Wirie pro, the way it is sold, bought, and brought back from the US (here by Marie on MV Domino) - the first Wirie pro in the South Pacific!! From inventor/producer (see SV Irie in the background) to consumer. :-) And, customer support at your doorstep!

5 comments:

Mark Roope said...

AS you know all us sailors like the internet and being able to keep in touch for messages, weather and life in general.
Thank you for spending the time is producing a product to help and as liveaboards ourselves we wish you all the very best.

afamilyafloat.com said...

Thanks for sharing! We have a few months before we leave, but this sounds great!

Liesbet said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Mark. It all started with us wanting to build something decent and affordable for ourselves in St. Martin and it grew to a little business providing long range WiFi equipment for other cruisers! Funny how that goes... :-)

Doms said...

Hi Mark
Very interesting story!
I was looking for such a product as I have a house in Tahaa with poor 2g and next year I will have a boat also
So I will need a wirie pro in french polynesia!
But with custom and shipping how can I manage?
Thanks for your answer
Kind regards

Liesbet said...

Hi Doms,

Liesbet here. The only way I can reply to you is via this comment, since we do not have your email address. Can you please direct your question in an email to support@thewirie.com so Mark can send you a private answer if requested? We ship The Wirie pro all over the world, but I do know it is pretty pricey to ship it to French Polynesia. Most cruisers have a friend from the US or Europe bring it when they visit or when they go "home" themselves for a short trip. Shipping within the US is the cheapest option.