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SIE 2016 Winner, Paul McGinley, is Unlocking the Internet

In March, we announced the winner of our 2016 New Ventures competition: Paul McGinley! Paul is a graduate from the University of Strathclyde and is now the Founder of Pyramid Wifi. We sat down with Paul to find out more about him, his business and what his big plans are for that £10,000 prize!

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Tell us about yourself

I think many people expect me to have a technical or computer science degree because of what I’m developing but I actually graduated with a degree in Enterprise and Marketing from the Hunter Centre at the University of Strathclyde. Despite choosing to study business, I’ve always been a tech geek at heart. I was always the kid playing with latest gadget and now I have the opportunity to build my own which is a really nice feeling.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

My company is eliminating online restrictions with a focus on geo-blocking. Geo-blocking stops you from accessing online content you’ve paid for in the UK, such as the television licence and Sky, when travelling overseas. It also affects what you can access in the UK. Legal workarounds such as VPN are cumbersome, lack support for many devices (including games consoles) and slow down connection speeds often leading to the dreaded ‘buffer wheel’ which, at least in my personal experience, causes a sharp rise in blood pressure!

Due to these limitations, piracy is often viewed as more convenient than legitimately accessing content. Fortunately, we’ve developed a simple and legal solution that solves this problem in seconds.

What is your invention?

Pyramid is a very small WiFi box which can comfortably fit in your pocket. It provides global access to over 300 streaming services from 30 countries and automatically switches locations. You can enjoy iPlayer and other UK services from anywhere, just like you were at home, or really easily unlock international content.

Pyramid Wifi

Pyramid has three main breakthroughs compared with the current technology.

  1. It’s simple to use as you connect to it just like a regular WiFi network.
  2. It works with zero speed loss meaning there’s no suffering with buffering.
  3. It’s compatible with literally any WiFi device so you can enjoy unlocked entertainment on any screen.

Overall, it’s just a simple and fast way to access any content, on any device, anywhere.

Tell us about your SIE experience and

The first thing I’d say about SIE is that they made me get out there, challenge my inner introvert and engage with other entrepreneurs. That has been so valuable and I was really surprised by the quality of startups being built by students and recent graduates. We may not live in Silicon Valley, but there is no shortage of innovation in Scotland.

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So tell us, how are you going to spend the £10,000 New Ventures prize?

Pyramid is a little unusual for a tech company as we’ve avoided raising early stage investment opting instead to bootstrap our way to market. This made winning New Ventures a really pivotal moment for us as we now have the cash we need to fund the initial production run of the product.

When filling in my application for SIE I really didn’t imagine that I’d get the opportunity to connect with so many great startups, gain valuable advice from expert advisors or win a profile boosting prize that helps us get to market but that’s been my experience.

Pyramid Wifi will be announcing more details about their UK launch very soon. You can sign up to be one of the first people to unlock the internet on their website or you can follow them on Twitter – @pyramidwifi.

Do you want to apply to the next New Ventures competition? Sign up to our student e-newsletter to be kept up to date with all the important deadlines!