Former Gogo CEO launches yacht communications firm

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Michael Small

Michael Small

The former chief executive of Gogo has launched a startup to provide internet service to the boating industry. ChicagoBusiness.com reports that former Gogo CEO Michael Small has raised $5.2 million for a company called K4 Mobility.

The company plans to provide broadband service to vessels over 80 feet. The concept is similar to Small’s former company, Gogo, which uses satellites and a ground-based cellular network to provide internet service to commercial airplanes.

“Maritime is actually a larger market for internet service than aviation,” Small told the website.

Small has launched K4 Mobility with Anand Chari, Gogo’s former chief technology officer, and Rishi Potdar, a former Gogo finance executive.

Small said that yacht owners can pay several thousand dollars per month for broadband services, but says the industry is very fragmented. “It’s not as seamless as it is with your phone,” he says of the transition between satellite and land-based cellular.

K4 will arrange and coordinate service, using an online platform, which is being built by contractors. It plans to sell the service through yacht dealers and service providers in the boating industry.

The ongoing increase in satellite capacity, says Small, should bring down costs. Small says the company will sign up its first customers this summer. He plans to expand from the yachting segment to cruise ships and other commercial vessels. 

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