34. Veniam

Constructing the global superhighway of data

Founders: João Barros (CEO), Robin Chase, Roy Russell, Susana Sargento
Launched: 2012
Funding: $29.6 million
Valuation: $85.4 million (PitchBook)
Disrupting: Wi-Fi
Rival: Maxima Telecom

George Kavallines

This Silicon Valley start-up — whose founders include two of the people that helped to start Zipcar — aims to build city-scale networks of connected vehicles that can expand wireless coverage. That means cars and buses, for instance, can become live networks that allow people to be online without being dependent on a cellular network. Veniam co-founder and CEO João Barros says the company can also take the data it collects to keep track of buses and other municipal vehicles and better manage traffic flows and alternate routes.

Read More FULL LIST: 2017 DISRUPTOR 50

The company's technology can best be seen in Porto, Portugal, right now, where its hardware has been installed onto the public bus system. The company claims that 200,000 bus riders have access to Veniam's free mobile Wi-Fi there every day. In November it signed an agreement with StarHub, a communications provider in Singapore, to turn thousands of vehicles into mobile Wi-Fi hot spots, and in January it signed a similar agreement with a company in Mexico.

So far, the company, which recently opened offices in New York City as well, has raised close to $30 million from True Ventures, Cisco Investments, Union Square Ventures and Cane Investments, and from the investment arms of Verizon, Cisco, Orange, Yamaha Motors and Liberty Global.

Latest Special Reports

  • CNBC’s Women & Wealth explores ways that women can increase their income, save for the future and make the most out of current opportunities.

  • Unlock the keys to building a successful long-term financial plan: manage your money, grow your money, and protect it.

  • In a world of big box retail and e-commerce, successful business owners are taking new paths to Main Street success.