FONtrepreneur: Program Failure

FONtrepreneur: Program Failure

In september Fon, the free Wi-Fi initiative backed by Google, Sequoia Capital, and Index Ventures, launched a B2B program in an effort to get more coverage in densely populated areas. It promised 50% of all revenues to FONtrepreneurs willing to buy a marketing starter kit to promote and sell FON. This kit included 3 La Foneras, a Fontenna and flyers which people could use to persuade local cafés and bars to offer free Wi-Fi.

Fon has always been promoted as a community effort with hundreds of thousands of happy and cooperative members. So this should have worked. But the program has been terminated before it was launched. Here is why:

Fon originally invited 860 people from 5 countries: USA, Canada, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
Of those, 39 people replied and showed interest.
Of those, 13 people agreed to go through the legal loop holes that the laywers required.
Of those, 5 used the promo code
Of those, 2 immediately put the La Foneras for sale on eBay


It is hard to estimate how successful Fon REALLY is. They have previously claimed 200.000 hotspots worldwide and Fon’s founder has a full-time job talking about the imminent success of Fon at every major conference in the world. But how many of those hotspots are connected, active and available for other people is anyones guess. Judging from Martin Varsavsky‘s ever present smile all is fine and dandy in FonLand.

Here is an interview with Joanna Rees, the US representative for Fon including a few critical questions at the end of the interview.

I have written a post about Fon and my doubts about their business-plan earlier. More about Fon at BusinessWeek and Techcrunch.

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