Tag Archive for: Telecom

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Round Up – Industry Experts share their 2019 Telecom Predictions

From the emergence of fixed wireless and hybrid networks, to the predictive realities of 5G, telecom experts share their 2019 industry forecasts.

Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article do not represent nor do they imply endorsement of my personal views or my employer’s views and opinions. They are unique and independent to the individual contributors listed as the statement’s source.


From the roll out of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) integrations, to the highly anticipated future of 5G, in 2018 we saw the telecommunications industry generate some pretty innovative trends and thought-provoking headlines. With the new year just around the corner, I thought I’d turn to a variety of diverse industry experts to learn about their 2019 telecom predictions. Here is what they had to say:

There will be a lot of providers deploying 5G, but monetization will prove a challenge

Nathan Rader, Director of NFV Strategy, Canonical

There will be a race to see who can market 5G the quickest and who will have it as standard first. We’re already seeing tests from multiple providers across the world in isolated areas, and the speed and size of rollouts will only increase as providers look to gain the upper hand.

However, this race could be a costly one. Consumer need for 5G isn’t as great as it was for previous generations. 4G can handle most consumer use cases (such as streaming, gaming, browsing etc.) fairly comfortably with reasonable speed.

5G’s main benefit is providing increased capacity, not speed and latency, making it more of a technical development. Being the first 5G standard network will be a marketing coup, but may not come with the consumer kudos and demand it once did.

Further widespread adoption of Fixed Wireless

Phillip Deneef, Chief Strategy Officer, GeoLinks

We’ve seen fixed wireless technology evolve and improve drastically over the last decade, concurrently beginning to debunk “wireless anxiety”. During the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) CAF II Auction in 2018, we saw federal acceptance and adoption through the distribution of significant funding to WISPs, such as GeoLinks. This culminates to my prediction that in 2019 I believe we will see a drastic spike in both businesses and community anchors being connected via fixed wireless. While I do think fiber will still remain top of mind for many key stakeholders, I foresee anchors, rural health care facilities as a specific example, better understanding that EoFW is the most cost effective and time efficient way to get these critical care facilities the speeds they need. Taking guidance from both the FCC and overall industry adoption, on a state level I predict that those governing RFP fund distributions will also be more open to fixed wireless solutions. This will directly result in the United States making substantial strides in closing the digital divide.

Competition in Hosted VoIP market will heat up

Marc Enzor, VoIP Consultant & President, Geeks 2 You

Hosted VoIP phone systems are the hottest thing right now in telecom. Even the SMB and Medium size businesses are starting to become aware of what it is, and to gravitate towards it. In years past, we would spend most of our sales pitch educating customers as to what it is, how it works, and why they should use it. In recent months, customers already are aware and ready to purchase immediately. The sales cycle went from multiple meetings to single meetings now. It has become one of the hottest products we sell.

Going into 2019, it’ll only become even more “standard knowledge”, which means the competition in the hosted VoIP market will heat up. I predict several of the biggest names will start to buy the competition out and a true industry leader will emerge. This will have to happen as the top companies now will start to rely on their current growth models and will need to find ways to replace the lost growth as competition gets bigger.

Only edge computing / edge networking and AI will show true growth

Alan J Weissberger, ScD EE, IEEE Communications Society, techblog.comsoc.org

Only two areas in the telecom/networking space deserve the attention they are getting: 1] edge computing/edge networking and 2] Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Edge computing/edge networking is needed to off load the processing that takes place in cloud resident data center computers and also to reduce latency for critical real time control applications (especially for IoT).

AI and deep learning will be embedded into software-defined architectures in telco networks and the cloud to do analytics, predict failures, and move a lot of the human manual processes into automated operations. The long-term goal is to move from automated elements to closed loop automation and finally to autonomous control of networks.  I believe AI will be critically important to progress emerging telecom services and enabling new ones.  Examples include: 5G, Industrial IoT, autonomous vehicles, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, etc.  It will be also very useful for more mundane things, like keeping up with WAN and Internet bandwidth demands due to increased video streaming by cord cutters and pay TV customers (like this author) that increasingly stream sporting events (e.g. MLB TV, NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, boxing, etc).

All the other new technologies are hyped to the infinity power and headed for a train wreck.  That’s especially true of 5G, but also includes “Software Defined” networks (SDN and SD-WAN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and LPWANs for the Internet of Things (IoT).  All those suffer from the lack of inter-operability which is due to either the lack of standards, too many specs/standards (LPWANs) or proprietary implementations (e.g. SDN from AT&T, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc are not interoperable with each other. They each use different specs, with many being proprietary while others are based on open source software).  None of them will make much money for any company in the coming year.  Perhaps a few SD-WAN start-ups will be acquired and investors in those companies will profit, but that’s about it.

Enterprises cut the cord with LTE

Hansang Bae, CTO, Riverbed

For enterprises, 2019 isn’t a forecast of all doom and gloom. The year will also bring freedom from the persistent “last-mile” telecommunications problem. With the advancements in LTE, the technology will finally reach a point where the physical cables that connect end-users to their Internet Service Providers will no longer be a necessity — or a handcuff to a particular ISP.

The “last-mile” problem has long been the most critical and most costly component of an ISP’s network, as well a speed bottleneck. But now, on the heels of widespread adoption, LTE will allow enterprises to forego the last mile of physical cable for a reliable and robust connection.

Purpose-built Security Software will emerge

Don Boxley, Co-Founder and CEO, DH2i

Making smart products, IoT devices, is the new product differentiator — today, even ovens have IP addresses. Companies that have been investing in IoT initiatives understand that the IoT gateway layer is the key that unlocks a high return on those IoT investments. IoT gateways manage device connectivity, protocol translation, updating, management, predictive and streaming data analytics, and data flow between devices and the cloud. Improving the security of that high data flow with a Zero Trust security model will drive enterprises to replace VPNs with micro-perimeters. Micro-perimeters remove an IoT device’s network presence eliminating any potential attack surfaces created by using a VPN.

Likewise, many organizations are pursuing a hybrid strategy involving integrated on-premises systems and off-premises cloud/hosted resources. But traditional VPN software solutions are obsolete for the new IT reality of hybrid and multi-cloud. They weren’t designed for them. They’re complex to configure, and they give users a “slice of the network,” creating a lateral network attack surface. A new class of purpose-built security software will emerge to eliminate these issues and disrupt the cloud VPN market. This new security software will enable organizations to build lightweight dynamic micro-perimeters to secure application- and workload-centric connections between on-premises and cloud/hosted environments, with virtually no attack surface.

Hybrid Networks become more common

Louis Fox, CEO & President, CENIC

In terms of widespread internet connectivity, the low-hanging fruit has long been picked. To achieve a complete mesh across the state, and thereby to include all of our communities and lift all boats, private-sector technology companies will need to work more collaboratively with government and nonprofit community organizations to approach an underserved geographic region with a comprehensive strategy that stitches together fiber, fixed wireless, unlicensed spectrum, TV whitespace, and more. We can no longer deploy in a series of one-offs if we are ever to serve some of the hardest to reach places.

More Internet Networks deploying IPv6

John Curran, President and CEO, ARIN

The Internet has grown remarkably over the past few years and as a result we now have over four billion people online. The Internet will continue to grow at a remarkable pace to meet the requirements of broadband, mobile, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) growth, and this will only increase pressure on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deploy the next version of the Internet Protocol (IP version 6, or IPv6) — just as many broadband and mobile providers have already done today. The good news is that the IPv6 transition happens in the “lower layers” of the Internet, so this behind-the-scenes upgrade to the Internet will continue to happen without any noticeable change for Internet users.

Public and Private Clouds will be much more accommodating of each other

Jai Menon, Chief Scientist and IBM Fellow, Cloudistics

[In 2019] only about 5 viable general-purpose public cloud vendors will survive. This is because successful public cloud vendors will need to spend a lot of money, and few can afford to spend as much as the Top 2 — AWS and Microsoft Azure. [Furthermore] Public and private clouds will be much more accommodating of each other. More and more of the services provided by a public cloud vendor, such as their AI services, will become accessible to apps running elsewhere, including on private clouds. At the same time, there will be more and more examples of private cloud capabilities extended to the public cloud — such as VMware Cloud on AWS. Finally, federated orchestration and management of workloads across private and public clouds, all from a single, easy to use, portal will be commonplace.

Political turbulence and possible decrease in network investment

John Windhausen, Executive Director, Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition

2019 could be a turbulent year in the telecom/broadband space. If the FCC approves the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger, and if the court allows the AT&T-Time Warner merger, that could encourage even more consolidation in the marketplace. Of course, more consolidation among big players also opens up more opportunities for smaller, more nimble players to increase their market share. But there are increasing signals of an economic slow-down in 2019, which could mean belt-tightening and reduced investment by all players. The tariffs on Chinese-made equipment could mean increased prices for telecom gear, which could also lead to a pause in network investment. These trends may give a boost to the idea of a grand broadband infrastructure spending bill that both the President and Hill Democrats are trying to get in front of (assuming the government shutdown does not ruin the chances of bipartisan agreement forever.) Such legislation would only have a 30% chance of enactment but could be exciting to watch, as there are so many industry players that could benefit from government funding, especially in rural markets. I expect net neutrality to continue to percolate because the court is likely to remand the case to give the FCC another chance to justify its decision. Congress could and should step in, but there is no sign of compromise on the issue and likely will remain gridlocked. For anchor institutions, work will continue to get the E-rate and Rural Health Care programs running smoothly, but I do not anticipate major structural changes.

Do you agree or disagree with any of the above predictions? If so, feel free to visit the original article here, and leave a comment.

Coffee with Craig & Kevin Podcast Featuring GeoLinks’ Skyler Ditchfield

Coffee with Craig & Kevin Episode No. 36: Avant, GeoLinks, #CPExpo Pre-Show Edition

The Channel Partners Conference & Expo is upon us, and to celebrate, Craig and Kevin welcome their old colleague, Rick Reed, now heading up sales for Avant in the master agent’s South Central region.

Also on the show is Skyler Ditchfield, CEO of GeoLinks, a first-time Channel Partners exhibitor, who talks about his company’s huge growth what they have planned for #CPExpo.

All that, plus the guys break down a few of the highlights of the upcoming conference and share some deep thoughts — metaphors that tie rap music into the Channel Partners show. Yes, rap. He didn’t just say what I think he did, did he?

Subscribe to us on iTunes or via SoundCloud.

Follow Craig and Kevin on the brand-new Coffee with Craig & Kevin Twitter page!

Camarillo broadband provider GeoLinks acquires Vectus


Camarillo broadband provider GeoLinks announced that it had acquired Huntington Beach-based internet service provider Vectus in a cash and stock deal March 20.

The deal brings Vectus’ fixed wireless network and Southern California customer base to GeoLinks, as well as augmenting its team with key staff members, the company said in a news release.

“With founding roots in Southern California, GeoLinks has been familiar with Vectus’s robust wireless network for quite some time,” GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield said in a news release. “When the opportunity to officially acquire Vectus came to the table, all parties knew immediately that merging networks would be seamless from an operations standpoint, and prove immensely beneficial to existing and future clientele.”

Company migration is expected to begin immediately, Ditchfield added, helping GeoLinks build out its ClearFiber network. Customers should not expect to experience disruptions in service during the transition, the statement said.

GeoLinks debuted at No. 6 on the Pacific Coast Business Times 50 Fastest-Growing Companies list in 2017, and ranked No. 640 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies. The company reported revenue of $8.8 million in 2016.

The two companies had “synergistic beliefs,” said David Saylor, president and chief technology officer at Vectus, making it a natural fit.

“By combining assets, all current and future customers will now have access to an even more resilient and redundant wireless network,” he said. “Skyler and GeoLinks are highly respected leaders and innovators in the world of telecom, and I speak on behalf of the entire Vectus team when I say that we’re extremely pleased to be combining forces and joining their efforts.”

The companies did not disclose specific financial terms of the deal.

• Contact Marissa Nall at [email protected]

GeoLinks Announces Vectus Acquisition and ClearFiber™ Network Expansion

California’s fastest growing telecom, GeoLinks, announces acquisition of wireless Internet provider Vectus.

GeoLinks is thrilled to officially announce its acquisition of Southern California fixed wireless broadband provider, Vectus. The acquisition includes an outright procurement of the ISP’s robust fixed wireless network, key staff, and existing customer base ultimately expanding GeoLinks’ existing ClearFiber™ network and coverage map.

Founded by seasoned industry professionals in 2006, Vectus has become known as one of California’s leading providers of Ethernet over fixed wireless Internet services. Presently, the Vectus network offers dense coverage throughout Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

“With founding roots in Southern California, GeoLinks has been familiar with Vectus’s robust wireless network for quite some time,” said GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “When the opportunity to officially acquire Vectus came to the table, all parties knew immediately that merging networks would be seamless from an operations standpoint, and prove immensely beneficial to existing and future clientele. With contracts finalized, company migration will commence immediately, enabling GeoLinks to further expand its coverage map while simultaneously increasing our overall network capacity, redundancy, and ability to deliver higher bandwidth.”

President and CTO of Vectus, David Saylor, agreed with Ditchfield that the acquisition was a natural and strategic fit for both entities. “Post-acquisition, I have full confidence that all existing Vectus customers will continue to receive the same exceptional service they’ve become accustomed to. At our cores, GeoLinks and Vectus have synergistic beliefs—always put the customer first. By combining assets, all current and future customers will now have access to an even more resilient and redundant wireless network. Skyler and GeoLinks are highly respected leaders and innovators in the world of telecom, and I speak on behalf of the entire Vectus team when I say that we’re extremely pleased to be combining forces and joining their efforts.”

Both Vectus and GeoLinks’ existing clients will encounter no disruptions of service during the network transition. GeoLinks looks forward to announcing further details on increased network offerings in the upcoming months.


About GeoLinks

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions. Named the Fastest Growing WISP in America, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Layer 2 Transport, Hosted Voice, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

GeoLinks’ accelerated success is largely due to its flagship product, ClearFiber™, which offers dedicated business-class Internet with unlimited bandwidth, true network redundancy, and guaranteed speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network is backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support. With an average installation period of 4 to 7 days, GeoLinks is proud to offer the most resilient and scalable fixed wireless network on the market.

Recognized as a thought-leader in closing the digital divide, GeoLinks proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.In 2018 GeoLinks was awarded the Corporate Partnership Award by the Corporation For Education Network Initiatives In California (CENIC) for serving the research and education community in California.

GeoLinks Recognized Globally as a Great Workplace

Innovative telecom company, GeoLinks, receives official great workplace certification from Great Place to Work®, the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. 

“Our founding mission is to offer the best company culture around—one that combines respect, collaboration and a ‘best idea wins mantra,’” said GeoLinks’ Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “We recognize that curating a productive and positive company culture starts from the top. We are thrilled that our employee survey results came back so positive. It reaffirms that our daily efforts and commitment to culture is meaningful both to our team members’ livelihood and to our bottom line as a company. Myself, and the entire leadership team, are 100% committed to further developing state-of-the-art advancements in the IT marketplace so the GeoLinks’ culture may one day be available to everyone.”

“We applaud GeoLinks for seeking certification and releasing its employees’ feedback,” said Kim Peters, Executive Vice President of Great Place to Work’s Certification Program. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace – critical metrics that anyone considering working for or doing business with GeoLinks should take into account as an indicator of high performance.”

“According to our study, 91 percent of GeoLinks employees say it is a great workplace,” says Sarah Lewis-Kulin, Vice President of Great Place to Work Certification & List Production.

GeoLinks employees completed 58 surveys, resulting in a 90 percent confidence level and a margin of error of ± 2.41.


About GeoLinks 

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions. Ranked No. 5 by category on Inc. Magazine’s 2017 Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Layer 2 Transport, Hosted Voice, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

GeoLinks’ accelerated success is largely due to its flagship product, ClearFiber™, which offers customers fixed wireless on the most resilient and scalable network ever built. From land procurement, construction, permitting, and more, GeoLinks does everything in-house, expediting installation periods nationwide. Boasting ultra-low latency, up to 99.999% uptime, sub 10ms jitter, and a 4-hour max response time, GeoLinks prides itself on delivering the industry’s best Service Level Agreement backed by 24/7 in-house customer support.

Recognized as a thought-leader in closing the digital divide, GeoLinks proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. In the United States, Great Place to Work® produces the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” list and a series of Great Place to Work® Best Workplaces lists including lists for Millennials, Women, Diversity, Small and Medium Companies and over a half dozen different industry lists.

Follow Great Place to Work online at http://www.greatplacetowork.com and on Twitter at @GPTW_US.

Silicon Valley in Ventura County

Camarillo– based GeoLinks finds success in providing internet to underserved

LOUD AND CLEAR—Skyler Ditchfield, CEO of GeoLinks, has grown his Camarillo-based internet provider into a multimillion-dollar business. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspaper

LOUD AND CLEAR—Skyler Ditchfield, CEO of GeoLinks, has grown his Camarillo-based internet provider into a multimillion-dollar business. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce. BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspaper

When Skyler Ditchfield was a child and his school banned sweets from the campus, he’d bring in candy to sell to his classmates.Even as a kid, the 36-year-old Camarillo resident had a knack for giving people what they wanted when the powers-that-be wouldn’t provide it.

Now he does the same thing for places that internet providers like AT&T have deemed too rural or remote for high-speed internet.

Ditchfield’s company, GeoLinks, began by providing fixed wireless internet connections to rural schools, hospitals, Native American reservations and other institutions using radio waves instead of cables and wires.

Ditchfield said that because large internet providers won’t run wiring to rural areas, thousands of people are being left behind in today’s fast-paced and interconnected world.

“We’ve brought internet into schools in communities that don’t have internet,” Ditchfield said. “These kids are usually in poor areas, being as rural as they are, and it’s giving them a real opportunity to utilize the internet at school, utilize state testing, have access to more educational materials and getting them included in what’s going on.”

As GeoLinks has grown, the company began moving into suburban and urban markets, competing directly with large corporations to supply internet to businesses and, to a lesser extent, homes across the state.

Now GeoLinks is expanding nationally. It’s the next logical step for Ditchfield, who uses his skills in business and technology to make GeoLinks run.

He spent most of his life working in telecommunications, including stints repairing computers in Ventura County and managing networks at the Silicon Valley offices of MCI Worldcom, where he helped clients like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Seven years ago, Ditchfield founded GeoLinks with his cousin Ryan Hauf, who serves as chief technology officer.

As a hobby, Hauf set up a small wireless network to provide free internet access to about 40 people in Ojai. Ditchfield’s entrepreneurial mind saw the potential to make a profit.

“I said, ‘Do you want to make a business out of this and not make it a charity?’” Ditchfield said. “And he said yeah, so a month later, we were off and running and had three or four thousand dollars a month in billing.”

That’s peanuts compared to the $14.9 million the company says it earned last year. Ditchfield expects that amount to climb higher; GeoLinks has its eyes set on government contracts that are north of $170 million.

The company that began in Ditchfield’s weight room now has 49 employees and is looking for more to help fill the 38,000-square-foot building on Camarillo Ranch Road that Geo- Links moved into in July.

The office, once home to mobile game developer Zindagi Games, looks like a Silicon Valley headquarters. It features plenty of open space for the company to expand, as well as a gym, game room, full kitchen and indoor basketball court.

“We spend so much of our lives these days at work. You want to enjoy it, right?” said Lexie Olson, GeoLink’s director of marketing and communications. “For example, when I’m having a tough day, I like to take my lunch break in the gym. It promotes overall health, happiness and wellness, and we see increased productivity because of that.”

Olson, who was hired in June, said that while the amenities helped, the company’s success and family-like atmosphere convinced her to move from Los Angeles.

“I was attracted to the fact that there was a really cool, innovative startup in Ventura County that offered a really cool company culture,” she said.

Ditchfield said a healthy office culture contributes to a business’ success, but the customs of a successful business don’t come from an on-site gym or a stocked refrigerator in the kitchen.

“You don’t have to have this (facility and amenities) to build culture,” he said. “You have to have the right people and the right attitude and the right energy and leadership style. That’s where it all starts.”

It seems Ditchfield has found the right people; GeoLinks began to see the fruits of their labor in the past year. The company was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the United States in 2017, and this year Ditchfield was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce.

With this success, Ditchfield doesn’t want his employees to rest on their laurels. He said the company succeeds or fails together, so it’s important that everyone keeps working hard.

“We’re still a startup. We’ve still got to hustle and grind,” he said. “We shouldn’t be checking out at 4:45. If you’ve still got a project that needs to get done, stay and get it done because every dollar out of this company’s pocket is really a dollar out of each one of our pockets.”

Best Businessmen of 2017: Featuring Skyler Ditchfield

Original Article

Who is the best businessman of 2017? Here’s a round-up of well known business leaders, as well as some you’ve never heard of, to mark 2017 as a year to remember among an elite circle of entrepreneurs and visionaries who are out there doing things right (and different)!

Originally Written by Leon Vogel – Independent Writer – Dec 29

Jeff Bezos

The 53-year-old founder and CEO of Amazon became the world’s richest man this year. His fortune increased by about $34 Billion in 2017 to take his net worth close to $100 Billion; which can be largely attributed to wise investment choices he’s made over the years: getting into ecommerce when an average retailer made $3000 in sales each year, AWS which now runs the likes of Netflix and Airbnb, his real estate insvestments in Washington and Texas which make him the 25th largest land owner in the US according to Land Report, his investments in Uber and Google, products like Kindle and Echo … the list is long.

His recent acquisition of whole Foods sent ripples across the retail sector and the company announced a $4.5 Billion content budget for Amazon prime video- the only company that spends more is Netflix. Apart from Amazon, of which he owns 16%; he also owns Blue Origins, a space exploration company and The Washington Post. Bezos is a visionary not only because he launched one of the most successful companies of this century but also because even after more than 20 years in business Amazon still functions like a startup- almost every month it gets into a new category in which it has no expertise.

The willingness to try triumphs over the fear of failure. In an age when authenticity is in short supply, Bezos has stuck to his vision of putting the customer first. The journey from a garage operation in 1994 to a wall street darling has been a spectacle to watch. According to professor Scott Galloway of NYU Stern, Amazon Echo will revolutionalize branding. With voice search technology present in millions of homes, Amazon aims to be your only retailer; and with billions of dollars in cash, it seems inevitable.

Submitted by — Abhishek Kumar

Danni Lin (B.S., M..S.)

Lin is the CEO of GREAT WINE Inc.. GREAT WINE, Inc., is a company which produces wine to start a new conversation about wine — what is your wine character or “vinotype?” Dani was a former Data Scientist at Microsoft.

Under Lin’s leadership, GREAT WINE now collaborates with Tim Hanni, MW (the first American who became Master of Wine), and myVinotype — a smart wine recommendation platform for wine-related businesses and connoisseurs to learn more about clients’ wine personalities. Launched in 2011, myVinotype first started as a website widget and a consumer survey. By 2016, the platform has launched an iOS app, and has become available in eight languages worldwide. All these features are supported by data analytics in order to be more client-oriented.

Like many, Danni Lin (B.S., M.S.) had experiences of going into a supermarket, and got lost in massive product lists and ads. She thought how knowledgeable she was in wine affected her likes and dislikes — until she had a conversation with Tim Hanni, MW. Hanni is one of the first Americans to become Master of Wine, and introduced Lin to the scientific concept of “vinotype,” i.e. wine preferences and sensory abilities of people.

Lin then transformed from a wine novice to a wine educator who encouraged consumers to speak their mind — what they really enjoy drinking and experiencing. Lin quitted her stable job at Microsoft. But with a strong financial background, analytical expertise, knowledge of advanced technology, and professional knowledge of wine, Lin is taking her business to the next level of growth and expansion worldwide through her extensive international experiences and connections.

It is Lin’s hope to introduce the traditions and innovations of Californian winemaking to more clients around the world. Here is a piece of advice from Danni: “Be ready to change for the market.” She said, “I think success lies in the willingness to change, both as a person or as a business. The market will tell you what it needs, and the key to success is to be ready to change — after all, taste does change over time! For example, when GREAT WINE is founded in 2015 in both the USA and China, it was one of the few companies in the industry that successfully caught the changing tides of the Chinese market. Chinese young professionals now prefer affordable wines with traceable origins, and stop chasing after high price tags. By introducing the possibility of comparing tea flavors of pu-erh and jasmine to wines, GREAT WINE carries the mission of introducing the traditions and innovations behind Californian labels to the global market.” GREAT WINE, Inc. is recognized as Best Wine Tasting Experience by Qminder. The company’s CEO, Danni Lin, is honored in 425 Business Magazine 30 under 30.

— submitted by Michella Chiu

Steve Casto

Casto is the founder of Omaha Financial Planners: In 2017, Steve Casto of Omaha Financial Planners created theSMART retirement system. SMART stands for the Strategic Machine Allowing Retirement Tranquility.Why is SMART so important today? It helps retirees maximize the value of their retirement income they receive from the money they’ve saved.Think of saving money for the future like climbing a mountain. Imagine being that poor misguided mountain climber who doesn’t pack the right stuff and doesn’t possess the skills to both climb to the top of the mountain and more importantly get back down safely.

Planning for retirement is a lot like that mountain climb. Before you retire you saved your money and that is called the accumulation phase. During retirement you climb down the mountain by taking money out of your retirement account and that’s called the distribution phase. It sounds simple enough but it’s not and that’s because the math changes dramatically at the top of the mountain.When it comes to managing your money during retirement, SmartMoney Magazine said the following: “The distribution phase of retirement, the time when you withdraw funds from savings, makesthe accumulation part look like child’s play.”

— Submitted by Bob Smith

Craig Wolfe

Wolfe is president of CelebriDucks. “I decided to start a whole new division of my company to make rubber ducks in America again. It was one of the most difficult things I ever attempted….like a brand new company. The rubber duck was invented in America and then the whole industry went overseas. I tried to get factories to do it right here and it was a disaster….but I persisted…..I even had to send the whole operation from Ohio to New York to try and make it work….Bottom line…finally, and it’s quite a story,…made it work! You can even watch them making rubber ducks at our factory in the Bronx that HGTV’s Home Factory shot there in the Made in America section on our website. How I survived all this is a miracle…But I did not stop there….I had the crazy idea to make rubber ducks that were also PVC free that would be the safest rubber ducks in the world for babies to teethe on…..oh wow….was that an ordeal….it had never been done with food and medical grade materials…..end result….it worked and not even China can do what we are doing in the USA! In the Made in America section on our website, you can see all the babies loving them!”

Phillip Cohen

Phil is the CEO and Founder of Cohen Architectural Woodworking in St. James, MO (not far from St. Louis). Phil is an amazing individual and worthy of a best businessmen of 2017 recognition.

What makes Phil special? Phil comes from hard beginnings. He was a drug addict and suffered from depression. His father committed suicide. Failing at many things Phil found himself on a small farm. He began making birdhouses and toy trucks out of wood as a means of rehabilitation. People liked them and started buying them. He got a business license and eventually started his own firm.

He transferred his skills into commercial work. Cohen Architectural Woodworking was born. Phil then started supplying many national companies such as Walmart with millwork and custom wood cabinetry. Today the company has a newly expanded facility that includes 54,000 square feet and some 80 employees. Cohen has clients in all 50 states.

Phil is also special with the hiring practices of the company. He believes in giving people a second chance, no matter their background, if they are willing to do the work. Cohen hires a lot of ex-felons and others who would not receive job offers from most corporations. Many of these ex-felons have turned into excellent employees. Some are now in management and executives with the firm.

Phil believes he got a second chance at life and is willing to help others turn their lives around. He maintains an open door policy and is always accessible to help any team member.

In addition to hiring practices, Cohen is involved in many charitable and social causes. From working with local schools, to establishing optional classes at no charge for employees and their spouses on a variety of topics, to offering an employee a $1,000 bonus when they buy their first home, Phil goes above and beyond to help the communities he serves.

For his contributions Phil was recently named the 2017 Business Person of the Year for the State of Missouri by the Small Business Administration. He also works hard to provide a safe workplace and recently won two safety awards for 100,000 work hours without an accident from a national trade association. In addition the company has won multiple awards for woodworking design.

— Submitted by Steve Turner

Skyler Ditchfield

Ditchfield is co-founder and CEO of Geolinks.com. Skyler Ditchfield currently serves as the CEO of GeoLinks, the fastest growing fixed wireless ISP in the country, and Inc. Magazine’s 2017 Inc. 5000 NO. 5 Fastest Growing Telecommunications Company in America. Under his leadership, Ditchfield has led the company to record more than 100% growth for six years straight, and is on track for a seventh. In 2017, Ditchfield spearheaded GeoLinks’ efforts in obtaining its status as a California Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) public utility, allowing the company to expand into the national marketplace. Furthermore, Ditchfield successfully completed the company’s first ever acquisition allowing GeoLinks to expand its service offerings. While not yet publicly announced, Ditchfield will close out 2017 with another massive acquisition under his belt, officially making GeoLinks the market leader in its’ space.

Aside from making what began as a two-person operation in 2011, into what is now a 65 employee (and growing) 8-figure company, Ditchfield is passionate about cultivating the best company culture around — one that combines respect, collaboration and a “best idea wins mantra.”

— Submitted by Lexie Olson

Sheldon Smith

Smith is the Founder and Executive Director of the Dovetail Project. He has developed an organization that works to give young African-American fathers — ages 17 to 24 — the skills and support they need to be better fathers for their children and better men in the Chicago community.

Smith designed the program based on his own experiences, which included being incarcerated as a teenager, furthering his education, finding employment, and becoming a father at age 20. Now at the age of 28, Smith has been named 2016 Top 10 CNN Hero and most recently a Steve Harvey Hero, Civic Leader for The Obama Foundation and named 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30.

The Dovetail Project’s 12-week curriculum includes workshops focused on teaching vital parenting skills and life skills. Over the course of the program, students receive training to finish their education and seek employment. Workshop facilitators also educate students on felony street laws — introducing life-saving methods to help them avoid conflict and incarceration.

To date, 337 young men in Chicago have graduated from the program since its founding in 2009.

— Submitted by LaQuita Washington

Rob Kosberg

Rob is the founder of Best Seller Publishing, the definitive leader in authority marketing and business growth strategies using a best selling book. Rob is recognized for his expertise in helping coaches, consultants, and entrepreneurs to Publish. Promote. Profit. (TM) with their own Best Selling books.

His Company has consistently yielded tremendous results for our clients, usually with immediate new opportunities for speaking engagements, free publicity and leads and sales.

Best Seller Publishing works with clients to:

• Write and Publish the ideal book that positions them as a thought leader in their field. We help to dial in the right audience, create the hook, title and table of contents before working with our award winning ghostwriting team.
• Then we create the cover, design the interior and exterior, format for digital and soft cover version and get ready for the promotion phase.
• Our next step is to promote our authors new book via press releases, paid advertising and massive social media exposure to create our next best selling author — GUARANTEED.
• We don’t stop there though. We now begin to book our new best selling author on TV, radio, blogs, podcasts and speaking engagements. All this is DONE FOR YOU service and it is all guaranteed.

BSP has published best selling books for former U.S. Ambassadors, Fortune 500 C — Suite executives, financial advisors, attorneys, dentists, doctors, chiropractors, hollywood stuntmen, environmental scientists, coaches, consultants, professional speakers and a dozen other industries.

— Submitted by Bianca Ramirez

Alex Doubet

Doubet (pronounced Doo-Bay), founder of Door, a tech-enabled flat fee brokerage that is disrupting the real estate industry.

Door charges homeowners a flat rate of $5,000, compared to the traditional 6 percent commission fee, for its brokerage services. Last year, home sellers saved an average of $15,000 under Door’s model.

Alex explained to The Dallas Morning News that the “idea came to him after his mother sold her two-story converted duplex… for $857,000 in the conventional commission way. She didn’t get so much as a thank-you note, much less a bottle of wine, from the two Realtors who pocketed a combined $51,400. “It was a bigger commission than the average household income in Dallas. It was nuts,” says Doubet, who has already been involved in several successful early ventures and a couple of real estate flips. “It was a presumptuous transaction. And that ticked me off.

Door’s commission on a $400,000 house would be $10,000 if it represents both the seller and buyer vs. $24,000 in traditional Realtor commissions. The more expensive the home, the greater the savings. The tipping point is a $168,000 sales price.”

Alex would be happy to discuss the flat fee brokerage model — and how Door is expanding into new markets, including Austin and Houston.

We have enjoyed amazing growth. We sold more homes last quarter than we did in the entirety of 2016. Our customer satisfaction is industry-leading with an NPS near 80. These are proof points that the market is beyond ready for a better way in real estate. The recognition that the rules are now different for sellers, and that buyers expect an altogether different experience really play in Door’s favor.

This was never about being a discount brokerage. This is about aligning the customer experience with the value delivered. Our innovation is in both process and technology. There just is not a way to improve customer experience with flat fees unless you look at it differently. We look at the world through the Seller’s and Buyer’s eyes, not as a traditional Realtor.

As a result, many of the industry’s leaders hate Alex for preaching the advantages of flat fee brokerage. Here’s the account from the San Francisco Business Times on his recent appearance at The Inman Connect real estate technology conference:

“Doubet’s comments drew harsh words from an audience member who questioned the legality of publicly discussing commissions.”

Alex began his career at US Road Sports (USRS), an endurance event company that owned over two dozen events with over 120,000 participants across the country. USRS was sold to Life Time Fitness in the beginning of 2014. At USRS, Alex was the Director of Finance.

Subsequent to USRS, he was the Chief Operating Officer and Junior Partner of Advantix Marketing, a search engine marketing and optimization agency and a member of the 2015 Inc. 5000 list.

— Submitted by Tim Livingston

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

GeoLinks Re-Building Burned CA Tower Sites

California-based GeoLinks is working to replace towers burned in the wildfires. That’s key, as the latest news indicates the return of powerful winds is making the Thomas fire dangerous again.

GeoLinks is based in Camarillo, which is in Ventura County. The company has hundreds of telecom towers in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties. GeoLinks personnel battle flames as they work to rebuild burned down sites and restore service, according to Marketing Director Lexie Olson. “Driving through Ventura was pretty surreal, lots of smoke and multiple fires visible from the street,” she wrote in a blog post, sharing the personal account of a GeoLink infrastructure technician.

“Driving up to the actual tower was disheartening at first, just because of how much was burned; one of the posts holding up the gate was completely destroyed, leaving the gate lying on the ground. It was there we first noticed a fence post smoking…but we continued on,” according to the account.

The crew got the destroyed site back up in a couple of hours but as they began their trek down the mountain, they noticed the fence post they saw smoking on their way up the mountain grew “to multiple en-flamed posts, threatening the surrounding area. We immediately turned around, went back to the tower site where we had stored a fire extinguisher, and returned to put out the fires. It was a real-life example of how quickly these fires can spread,” according to the infrastructure technician.

The GeoLinks team, some of whom lost their homes, repaired 12 destroyed sites throughout Ventura and Ojai as of December 14, accounting for more than 500 square miles of coverage area. They continue this work today.

Thomas Fire Updates

The Thomas Fire is a massive wildfire burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. The fire began north of Santa Paula, near Steckel Park and Thomas Aquinas College, on December 4, 2017. It has burned approximately 252,500 acres thus far, making it already the fourth-largest wildfire in modern California history, destroying at least 930 structures, damaging more than 200 others; and forcing upwards of 100,000 residents to evacuate.

Ray Ford / Noozhawk photo


(Ryan Cullom / Ventura County Fire Department photo)

GeoLinks has hundreds of telecom towers located throughout the Ventura, Santa Barbara and LA counties that provide service to thousands of both urban and rural families. Within just hours of the fires’ inception, the GeoLinks’ team sprang into action, literally battling flames as they worked relentlessly to rebuild burnt down sites and restore service.

“Driving through Ventura was pretty surreal, lots of smoke and multiple fires visible from the street. Driving up to the actual tower was disheartening at first, just because of how much was burned; one of the posts holding up the gate was completely destroyed leaving the gate lying on the ground. It was there where we first noticed a fence post smoking…but we continued on.

The view on the drive up was hindered by smoke, we couldn’t see the ocean, or even the Crown Plaza. That’s when everything really hit me… to know we were celebrating and having fun on Saturday at GeoLinks’ holiday party just a couple miles away, and now we were dealing with the horrible fallout of this natural disaster. It was a wild juxtaposition of mindsets to comprehend just over the span of a few days…

From the top of the mountain, the view was incredible, in a very somber way. Smoke spread in every direction, winds whipping sand and ash all around us. Although, we knew what we were doing was important, so we got to work and had the completely destroyed site back up and running in just a couple hours. We then started our trek back down the mountain when we noticed that same smoking fence had grown to multiple enflamed posts threatening the surrounding area. We immediately turned around, went back to the tower site where we had stored a fire extinguisher, and returned to put out the fires. It was a real-life example of how quickly these fires can spread…” — Personal Account Shared from GeoLinks’ Infrastructure Technician.

To date, the GeoLinks team has already repaired 12 destroyed sites throughout Ventura and Ojai accounting for more than 500 square miles of coverage area. However, the Thomas Fire continues to wreak havoc at only 35% containment requiring the GeoLinks’ team to continue to work around the clock to maintain service.

Outside of the field, many GeoLinks employees have been personally affected by the fire as well, some even losing their homes. Ultimately, this ongoing natural disaster has affected both the company and surrounding communities in every way possible.

Check back soon for further updates, but in the meantime please visit the below link if you wish to support and give back to those directly affected by the Thomas Fire. Created by GeoLinks’ employees Lexie Olson and Lindsey Ditchfield, 100% of proceeds of these “Ventura County Strong” shirts will be donated to Ventura County residents directly affected by the Thomas Fire.