Numerous Networks


Numerous Networks is playing bigger, creating a new category in an emerging $11bn market

Numerous Networks is a Wi-Fi and connectivity specialist. Established in 2019 by Ben Toner, the business combines consultancy with product innovation and design.

It’s the company’s latest innovation, nOversight, that has the Wi-Fi world excited. This could transform the way we choose our venues and how companies and venues ensure they offer platinum-standard Wi-Fi connectivity for their users.

Engaging with Innovation UK EDGE led Ben to shift his thinking, with massive results, including some early offers of funding and approaches for acquisition.

Digital connectivity is increasingly important
When you visit a hotel, airport, conference centre, office building or sports arena, you expect to have a constant Wi-Fi signal. Ben Toner, Founder and CEO of Numerous Networks, explains why this is so important.

“As an IT or Wi-Fi professional, one of your main jobs is to make sure that users are never interrupted. If the boss of a global bank is giving the AGM statement via Teams or zoom, you just can’t afford for anything to go wrong.”

The way to ensure good connectivity is to regularly check it.

“Food hygiene is a prime example of how this works. You don’t wait until somebody finds something wrong with the food. Instead you check, certify and display your rating.”

Checking typically involves trained IT professionals working ‘out of hours’ when venues have fewer people in them, potentially giving distorted readings.

“Until now you’ve had to purchase expensive equipment, then train staff to use it. It works, but often doesn’t give a true insight into the real end-user device experience.”

But this isn’t the biggest challenge. Apple devices, a hugely important segment of the market, do not offer this sort of information, making it almost impossible for IT professionals to accurately test their connectivity.

Ben’s breakthrough, and the launch of his software product nOversight, came when he developed a way of capturing the connectivity data from iPhones and iPads to this kind of scrutiny.

A change in thinking opened up enormous potential
In the spring of 2020, at the start of the covid-19 pandemic, sales of nOversight licences were slow but steady. Ben approached Innovate UK EDGE for support with grant applications.

It was during Ben’s first monthly meeting with his Innovation and Growth Specialist, Eric Wood, that everything shifted. Ben explains:

“Right at the start, Eric introduced me to the Play Bigger book and the category design concept. I read it and it changed everything.”

Category design involves creating a whole new category for your product, usually something new that people don’t know they want yet. For example, Airbnb = the home accommodation category, Apple’s iPad = tablets and Netflix = movie streaming.

“In those initial meetings, I realised that while nOversight solves the problem for examining what an iPhone does, the way I’m going about it is applicable in the whole market, for any phone or device.”

I hadn’t even realised before speaking to Eric that my product was sitting inside the Gartner ‘Digital Experience Monitoring’ category, which has a potential value of $1 billion.

I went away and adapted my product.”

Increasing commercial reach
As part of this adaptation, and at the suggestion of Eric, Ben started to look at how data is presented.

“Eric asked me how I’m going to ensure the findings are easily understood. How will people receive it and how can I transfer that to sales?”

The solution came helping his young son choose a component for his computer, when Ben realised the value of a simple consumer-friendly rating system.

“I introduced a kind of silver, gold, platinum score into my product. I delayed the next release to incorporate this scoring system into a badge.”

How nOversight is proving a game-changer
Today’s iteration of nOversight provides a simple, easy to use, easy to understand, low cost means of checking the Wi-Fi connectivity in your venue, alerting you to issues before they become problems. Ben explains:

“With nOversight, anyone can check connectivity with just a standard iPhone or iPad as they move around the venue. No training or knowledge is needed.”

Ben has big plans for his category design-inspired product, including a certification scheme with nOversight health checks providing a Wi-Fi connectivity rating.

“I created a vision for the business with a badge. In the future you could walk into a hotel and see the badge displayed on the wall, almost like your connectivity hygiene certificate. It could be included on things like Trip Advisor and become an important factor in how people select where they stay.”

What difference has working with Innovate UK EDGE made?
Ben isn’t new to product development. He’s worked in telecoms since 1999, spending 10 years in leading edge innovation – the majority of it as an intrapreneur within a large company, successfully developing and launching a new product. So, what difference did Innovate UK EDGE make?

“My business and my approach to my keystone product have significantly benefitted from this engagement.

It’s very easy, as somebody innovating, to get consumed by the details of the thing you’re creating.

With Innovate [UK EDGE], having people who understand innovators and the journey they’re on, being able to easily spot the traps and pitfalls innovators get themselves into, is critical. Absolutely critical.”

What’s next for Ben?
“nOversight so far has really just scratched the surface of what’s possible. I have a new breakthrough to announce very soon – that it works directly on an iPad without the need for a PC or Mac. I’m expecting a bit of a storm, this is a very big innovation story.”

The launch of this latest product iteration isn’t Ben’s only news. He’s also been approached with offers of investment and a strategic acquisition of his technology; the biggest players see nOversight as a hugely beneficial addition to their portfolio. However, with his longer-term growth goals still in place, Ben is set on putting more of his ideas into motion and growing the value first.

And not forgetting the global recognition Ben’s received from the largest professional Wi-Fi community. nOversight is a finalist for The Wi-Fi Awards 2022 Innovation of the Year. We’re keeping our fingers crossed he wins and receives the recognition we feel his innovation so rightly deserves.

Any last words from Ben?
“I’m absolutely thrilled by the service I got, in order to help me build a better foundation for my business.

This would not have happened without the support of Eric and his team. nOversight is now perfectly positioned to grow in sales as well as thrive in an M&A situation.”