Using Wi-Fi as a Marketing Tool

Company Information




Internet Software & Services


New York, NY

Wifigen helps brick-and-mortar retailers use their public Wi-Fi to market to customers.

Its platform transforms a business’s "guest" Wi-Fi account into a marketing tool that helps them convert casual visitors into loyal customers. In addition, businesses can use Wifigen to collect valuable consumer data.

Today, it’s easy for online retailers to obtain information about their customers. For example, when you make an online purchase online, you often submit your e-mail address.

But at brick-and-mortar stores, business owners often struggle to obtain this information. Wifigen provides a solution by enabling these businesses to collect consumer data with the same effectiveness as online retailers.

Wifigen’s target market is small businesses where customers typically connect to free Wi-Fi. These include coffee shops, malls, hotels, and gyms. In the U.S., there are nearly 6 million small businesses. This is a huge opportunity.

Zenreach is a similar platform. It enables brick-and-mortar retailers to deliver targeted ads through public Wi-Fi. It's received $95 million in funding from notable investors including Bain Capital Ventures and Peter Thiel, an early investor in Facebook.

Wifigen separates itself from Zenreach and other competitors by enabling businesses to market to customers in real-time. Here’s how it works:

Let’s say a customer visits a local coffee shop, and connects to the business’ free Wi-Fi. This can be done either by entering their phone number, e-mail address, or social media login.

Once signed in, the customer can receive real-time advertisements from the coffee shop, as well as opportunities for discounts. For example, the customer may receive a text message with a coupon offering half off their next cup of coffee.

While customers receive offers and ads in real-time, businesses use Wifigen’s cloud-managed dashboard to capture and analyze customer data. This data includes foot traffic, weekly/monthly sales, and any consumer trends. The dashboard also helps businesses with multiple locations assess all their data in one place.

Businesses pay Wifigen a monthly subscription of $39.99. Additional features, such as enabling customers to place digital orders with their phones, are available for $14.99 per month.

Since launching, Wifigen has helped small businesses market to more than 3 million customers. The company has 45 paying customers, and more than 5,000 businesses interested in its platform. The company needs to scale its business in order to meet this demand.

Notably, one of Wifigen’s customers is Pakistan’s largest public Wi-Fi network. This network connects more than 1 million people each month.

Moving forward, the company is developing additional features for its platform. These include:

Foot count: Because they can’t count every person who enters their store, businesses have trouble determining the amount of customer traffic. Using Wi-Fi, Wifigen will soon enable businesses to intelligently calculate the total number of people who walk into a store.

Smart orders: This feature will enable customers to place orders through a business’ free Wi-Fi. The goal is to reduce queue times for coffee shops and restaurants.

Wifigen projects to have 500 customers within the next 18 months. To achieve this goal, the company will focus on building strategic partnerships with companies that provide digital marketing to brick-and-mortar retailers.

The company will initially target New York City, which has an estimated 8,600 coffee shops and 24,000 restaurants.

Team Background

Bilal Athar - Co-Founder & CEO

Bilal is a Forbes “30 Under 30” entrepreneur.

Prior to starting Wifigen, he was CEO of Ikhtira Systems, an IT company based in Pakistan focused on computer networking. He held this position for a little over a year.

Before that, he was an instructor at Galaxy Computer Education, a leading education institute in Abu Dhabi. While there, he taught students how to operate Microsoft-related programs.

He began his career as an IT officer with Beaconhouse School Systems in Pakistan, focusing on IT Help Desk support.

Bilal studied Business and Economics at The City School.

John Patrick - Executive Chairman

John has an extensive career in the technology industry.

He began by working 35 years at IBM (NYSE: IBM), where he rose to become the company’s Vice President of Internet Technology.

From there he served on the Board of Directors for multiple companies. These included Opera Software; Meckler Media, a production company; and the Western Connecticut Health Network.

While serving on these boards, John launched Attitude LLC, an online blog featuring content in the areas of healthcare and technology.

Most recently, he acted as a board member for Keeeb, a computer software company.

He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University, a Master’s in Management Science from the University of South Florida, and a Doctorate from the University of Phoenix.

Umar Malik - Co-Founder & CTO

Before starting Wifigen, Umar founded Tech Solutions, an IT company based in Pakistan.

Prior to that, he was Head of Production at SUN TV, a Canadian television station.

He spent two years as a post-production supervisor for Royal TV, a media network in Pakistan, and spent two years prior to that as a technical sales manager for AllahDin Group of Companies, a collection of businesses in the agriculture industry.

Umar earned a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Bahauddin Zakariya University.

Zoya Hussain - Chief Operating Officer

Zoya started her career as an intern with the beverage company PepsiCo.

From there, she was an HR analyst for Rocket Internet, an incubator for internet- and technology-focused companies.

Most recently, she spent five years with LG Electronics, serving as an HR manager and a corporate marketing manager.

Zoya earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business and an MBA from Lahore School of Economics.

Dan Ohlson - Director of Planning

In addition to his role with Wifigen, Dan is Global Channel Director for Equinix, an internet services company.

He spent three years as a national partner manager for VMware, a computer software company. And he spent four years as a sales manager for Dell (NYSE: DELL).

Dan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Saint Anselm College, and an MBA from the University of New Hampshire.