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Best Entrepreneurs to Watch 2023

Andrea Calcagno, a dynamic leader, is leading his team from the front to achieve Cloud4Wi’s strategic and operational goals

Andrea Calcagno, a dynamic leader, is leading his team from the front to achieve Cloud4Wi’s strategic and operational goals

Andrea Calcagno, co-founder & CEO of Cloud4Wi, has over 20 years of experience in the tech industry. He is a mentor and advisor for several startups, and has been recognized for his entrepreneurial and leadership skills by various organizations and publications. Under his leadership, Cloud4Wi has become a global leader, serving clients in various sectors including retail, hospitality, and transportation. He started his career at Telecom Italia Labs in Turin, where he performed advanced research and development activities on mobile access networks, receiving international patents on mobile broadband architectures.

Cloud4Wi provides a cloud-based platform to deliver secure and seamless Wi-Fi access and innovative location-aware experiences for enterprises across the globe.

The most recent analysis from Markets&Markets estimates that the global Wi-Fi market will generate revenues totaling $12.3 billion in 2022 and $31.3 billion in 2027, rising at a CAGR of 20.4% throughout that period. The increased usage of IoT devices and business ambitions to undergo digital transformation are credited with driving the growth of the Wi-Fi market. Businesses all over the world are excitedly deploying technologically sophisticated applications throughout their industries to engage customers in creative and enticing ways, increasing the requirement for Wi-Fi connectivity of a sufficient quality. However, in order to fully meet an organization’s demands, these new apps must be implemented in an agile environment that promotes quick and responsive development while maintaining optimal network performance and cost-effectiveness. That’s where Cloud4Wi comes in.

Mr. Calcagno spoke exclusively to CIO Bulletin on how his company is making a difference.

Interview Highlights

Q. What was the motivation behind starting Cloud4Wi?

I decided to start Cloud4Wi with the co-founder and CTO Davide Quadrini in 2004 when we realized that there was an opportunity to bring to life a cloud solution to enhance the Wi-Fi access experience simplifying the services management while driving business outcomes for enterprises.

Cloud4Wi is backed by Opus Capital, United Ventures, and other Family Offices, and raised a total amount of $ 18.5M.

With over 150 million mobile users connected across 70,000 locations in more than 150 countries, Cloud4Wi is the trusted partner of leading global enterprises –including Adidas, Albertsons, Aldi, Burger King, Campari Group, Carmila (Carrefour Group), Guess, Gruppo FS Italiane, Prada Group, Puma, Raia Drogasil and Valentino. 

Q. Can you explain about your services in brief?

Cloud4Wi helps enterprises unlock the power of physical locations by offering seamless Wi-Fi services and location-aware experiences that work for the organization, guests, and employees, whether at public locations, headquarters, branch offices, warehouses, factories, or travel hubs.

Using Cloud4Wi, enterprises can tailor every aspect of their Wi-Fi to best suit their business and user needs. They can choose among multiple onboarding options—based on Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint, WPA2-Enterprise, WBA OpenRoaming, and the captive portal—and can easily customize the sign-up portals, from look and feel to language.

Thanks to Cloud4Wi’s powerful integration tools, enterprises can quickly incorporate Wi-Fi into their existing operations workflows and easily manage each step of the user experience. With Cloud4Wi’s compliance framework, enterprises can also have the flexibility to meet their individual data protection requirements and be compliant with local regulations in all areas.

Enterprises can finally take advantage of the Wi-Fi onboarding to deliver innovative experiences in their locations based on Wi-Fi user demographics and behaviors—with or without the mobile app.

Q. How do you optimize and update your solutions regularly? How do you gather insights from clients or their consumers?

We leverage multiple channels for collecting feedback from clients and their customers, such as surveys and interviews.

Starting from there, we analyze the collected feedback and other relevant data to identify trends, patterns, and areas that need improvement, while prioritizing clients’ needs and preferences properly.

Q. What are the latest technologies leveraged by you to provide exceptionally secure Wi-Fi access?

Cloud4Wi is investing a lot in Passpoint and WBA OpenRoaming technologies that promise to streamline and simplify the Wi-Fi onboarding experience.

Passpoint, also known as Hotspot 2.0, is a wireless technology standard developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Its main goal is to improve the security and the user experience when connecting to Wi-Fi networks. It enables seamless and automatic connections to Wi-Fi networks without the need for users to search for available networks, manually connect, or enter login credentials.

Passpoint also supports the use of advanced security protocols like WPA2-Enterprise or WPA3-Enterprise, which provide a higher level of security compared to typical open Wi-Fi networks or those using a shared password.

WBA OpenRoaming is an open industry standard –based on Passpoint– promoted by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), which automates secure device onboarding and roaming between different Wi-Fi networks.

“Innovation, in my opinion, is the secret to success. As a result, I support innovation at Cloud4Wi and urge our staff to be open to change and think creatively.”

Q. How do you streamline your services without compromising with data security?

Cloud4Wi allows enterprises to work under a lean IT approach. This way they can easily design and manage their Wi-Fi services –especially across distributed locations– while reducing IT burden and the total cost of ownership by 30%.

First, enterprises don’t need any coding skills. Their custom Wi-Fi experience will be up and running in just a few clicks.

Enterprises can easily design and manage their Wi-Fi services across all their locations and countries in one single, cloud-based dashboard and by using templates –so they don’t have to set-up/update each single location manually.

Enterprises can also save their Wi-Fi investment. Cloud4Wi is seamlessly interoperable with most Wi-Fi manufacturers, so they don’t need to replace their existing Wi-Fi network. They just need to add Cloud4Wi on top of it and get the most out of it.

Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful leader?

I firmly believe that having strong moral principles like integrity and honesty lay a solid basis for leadership, which a leader develops day by day. With a strong dedication to the team and stakeholders, a leader must be prepared to deal with challenging situations during the daily execution.

As a leader, I really think that I bring a distinctive style to the table. I work with my team to increase their self-assurance by setting an outstanding example and showing them how to complete things rather to simply asking them to. At the end of the day, a great leader is someone that continually works to establish the vision and direction of the company with a mid-term view and hand off the day’s execution to the management team. A leader must also make sure that she/he is the go-to person for the team anytime they require support.

Q. About adaptability, how do you stay relevant to the people’s interests and needs in this high volatile market?

I can keep relevant with the latest market trends, consumer trends, and emerging technologies that impact my business in order to stay relevant to people’s interests and requirements in a highly turbulent environment. I regularly carry out market research to comprehend the requirements and preferences of my target market. I support a customer-centric mindset as a leader. I prioritize my clients in whatever I do. Pay attention to their input and modify their marketing tactics, products, and services to suit their changing requirements and preferences.

Innovation, in my opinion, is the secret to success. As a result, I support innovation at Cloud4Wi and urge our staff to be open to change and think creatively. To keep ahead of the competition and cater to the changing demands of our clients, we experiment with new concepts and methods. I foster an agile culture at my organization as well. When conditions change, we are ready to quickly pivot and modify my business tactics.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. I and my colleagues make learning investments and work hard to upgrade our skills. This involves going to conferences, taking part in training courses, and keeping up with the most recent advancements in the business.

Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

One of the most memorable moments in my career is the lunch that I had with Sergio Mattarella –who is the current President of the Italian Republic–in San Francisco in October 2019. This was a great time to share my point of view with him and how my country Italy should support and assist Italian entrepreneurs.

About | Andrea Calcagno

Andrea Calcagno is a Co-Founder and the CEO of Cloud4Wi.

Mr. Calcagno holds a master’s degree (summa cum laude) in telecommunications engineering from the University of Pisa.

“One of my favorite entrepreneurs is Ben Horowitz. One of my favorite quotes of his is, ‘Often, any decision, even the wrong decision, is better than no decision’.”

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