Veteran Birmingham Entrepreneur Becomes Helium Patron; Rolls Out Internet-of-Things Network
BIRMINGHAM, AL, April 27, 2020 — Following his successful exit from the online ticketing company he founded in 2001, TicketBiscuit, startup veteran, Jeff Gale, has taken on a new role and a new technology project in Birmingham. Gale will serve to help shape a new connected future and roll out a new network infrastructure for the growing “Internet of Things,” or IoT community in his area. Several prominent names in the Birmingham startup community have volunteered to host the hardware powering the network, called Helium, including Fleetio, Fast Slow Motion, MoxieIoT, Conserv, Hardware Park, and the new Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator launching this fall.
“A forecast from IDC projects the number of IoT devices to surpass 40 billion by 2025–that’s five devices for every man, woman, and child on earth,” said Gale.
IoT devices are typically small electronic devices that need an Internet connection, such as pet tracking devices, or environmental sensors that measure temperature or humidity. Often, it’s not possible or practical to connect IoT devices to a WiFi network, and cellular connections can be cost-prohibitive. That’s where Helium comes in.
The hardware powering the new network is built by Helium. It enables anyone to own and operate a network with Helium Hotspots that are LoRaWAN-compatible, and provides coverage for hundreds of square miles. Gale is one of Helium’s “Patrons,” individuals or leaders who help to drive, recruit and grow Helium, as well as invest in a large number of Hotspots, often providing complete coverage for their home cities. Helium launched its Patron program late last year in Austin, seeking local leaders to emerge and deploy coverage at scale with the help of their local networks and the Helium community.
The network Gale is rolling out in Birmingham will allow such roaming, low-power devices to connect to the Internet in a cost-effective manner, paving the way not only for the devices themselves, but also for new technology startups in the IoT space.
“Birmingham’s startup scene has been on fire for the last few years, and I’m hopeful that creating a ‘network within a network,’ through Helium, will create a whole new playing field for local entrepreneurs, right alongside biotech, fintech, and other sectors where our startups are innovating.”
The network infrastructure the community will be working off, the Helium Network, is powered by cryptocurrency, an aspect Gale finds especially attractive. “The more I educate myself on blockchain technology, the more I am convinced it will revolutionize nearly every aspect of our lives,” predicts Gale. “At the very least, the combination of IoT and blockchain presents an exciting new platform for starting companies.” Startups building a platform on which to build more startups: that’s the kind of dynamic that can help Birmingham level up from “promising market” to “national leader.”
“My analysis showed that we need about 45 Hotspots to cover the entire Birmingham metro area, so that’s how many I bought,” Gale added. Those Hotspots are scheduled for delivery in May, and will be rolled out throughout the summer.
About Jeff Gale
Jeff Gale founded TicketBiscuit, a leading provider of ticket sales and event marketing software, after graduating from Columbia University and returning to his hometown of Birmingham, AL. Since successfully exiting TicketBiscuit in 2017, Jeff has become a prominent angel investor and startup mentor in the Southeast.
Co-founded by Shawn Fanning and Amir Haleem in 2013, Helium is building the world’s firstpeer-to-peer wireless network to simplify connecting devices to the internet by rewarding anyone to become a network operator. CEO Amir Haleem comes from an extensive background in triple-A video games. Helium is backed by GV (formerly Google Ventures), Khosla Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Multicoin Capital, FirstMark, Marc Benioff, Shawn Fanning and other top VCs. The network is live in more than 745 cities throughout North America. More information can be found at helium.com. More information about Helium’s Patron program can be found here.