Bringing The Next 4 Billion Online: EFSG1 Alum Transcelestial Raises SGD$2.5M Seed Round

By Nasos Papadopoulos, EF Head of Content
Posted: 21 September, 2018

Transcelestial Co-Founders Rohit Jha and Mohammad Danesh

Entrepreneur First is delighted to announce that EFSG1 Alum Transcelestialhas raised a S$2.5M seed round to continue their mission to build the world’s first Space Laser Network that will deliver commercial high speed internet anywhere on Earth.

The round was led by Wavemaker Partners in partnership with SEEDS Capital (the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore), and joined by Airtree Ventures, 500 Startups, Michael Seibel (CEO of Y-Combinator), Jonathan Schiff (Venture Partner, WI Harper Group), Charlie Songhurst (Microsoft’s former Head of Corporate Strategy), Josh Manchester (Champion Hill Labs), and other prominent angels.

In the next decade 4 billion people and 50 billion devices will come online, with the amount of data created and consumed expected to grow more than ten times. But current global infrastructure isn’t sufficient to manage our internet needs as a planet, with 95% of internet connectivity served by undersea cables developed in the 1990s and 2000s.

The cost of this infrastructure starts from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in capital expenditure and tens of million dollars in annual maintenance. On top of this, existing wireless technologies have reached high levels of congestion, limiting the amount of connectivity they can support.

That’s where Transcelestial comes in — they’re developing the fastest, long-distance, point-to-point wireless communication network possible. This will be delivered as a space data network for terrestrial and satellite applications, which will use lasers to transfer data at up to 1000x faster than what’s currently available.

At EF we have the privilege of getting know some of the world’s most exciting founders before they start their companies — and Co-Founders Rohit Jha (CEO) and Mohammad Danesh (CTO) have made rapid progress since starting Transcelestial.

They’re currently testing an on-ground version of their prototype wireless laser communication technology with telecom and enterprise partners, both within Singapore and overseas, including a successful joint project with SK Telecom in South Korea, where their wireless fibre optics technology was used to upgrade the internet connectivity of a major public library near Seoul improving bandwidth by 20 times.


The Transcelestial Team with the SK Telecom Team in Seoul for deployment

Speaking to us, CEO Rohit Jha said “We started Transcelestial because we saw an exciting future for humanity in the next 100 years but no action plan to build the underlying infrastructure needed to support that. Transcelestial’s radical new approach is needed to overcome these issues and ensure global connectivity in the next couple of decades.”

On a personal level, Rohit’s motivation is driven by impact. Speaking to us on our podcast, Scaling Ambition, he discussed his decision to start a company, “When I’m older I want to look back and see a life that’s been fruitful, where I’ve used the talents I have to contribute back to the society. That’s what gets me up in the morning.”

Fortunately in Mohammad Danesh, his Co-Founder, Rohit found someone who’s ambition truly matched his own and this, combined with the complementary skillsets they share made them a very attractive investment proposition for some of the world’s leading investors.

Transcelestial Co-Founders Rohit Jha (second from right) and Mohammad Danesh (far left) with Singaporean Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat (second from left)

Paul Santos, Managing Partner of Wavemaker Partners, Southeast Asia’s leading early-stage VC said “We’re pleased to have had the opportunity to lead Transcelestial’s round as it aims to bring connectivity to emerging markets, deliver high-speed internet to cities, and eventually, bring their technology to space.”

While Transcelestial is just at the beginning of its journey, they’re wasting no time in solving the challenges in front of them. They’ve already been using their seed capital to turn their small office in Chinatown into a laser communication lab, employing some of the top engineers and scientists in the region from multi-disciplinary fields.

The scale of the opportunity that faces Transcelestial, combined with the skills and ambition of the co-founding team mean we’re very excited to see what’s next in store for Rohit and Mohammad in the near future.