Rob Oyler head shot
Rob Oyler

Location: Kansas City, MO

Founded:  2012

Employees: 19

Course:  FastTrac TechVenture - Graduated 2012

Affiliate: UMKC Small Business Technology Development Center

Build the concept. WANRack provides K-12 schools with high-bandwidth, fiber-based communication networks that offer unlimited future expansion at a fixed price. Services include secure, private fiber and special construction solutions that let schools take charge of their bandwidth capacities and budgets. WANRack wide area networks also qualify for Federal Communications Commission E-Rate funding, which makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for American schools and libraries.

Plan the strategy. Demand for bandwidth in schools has skyrocketed as data and the Internet play an increasingly important role in connecting students and teachers to life-long learning and information. With a focus on being the premier provider in the education space, WANRack meets that demand by building private, fiber-optic wide area networks (WANs) that:

  • Offer superior, bandwidth with capacity for virtually unlimited expansion at no extra cost.
  • Eliminate security and reliability concerns that plague users of public networks, which pack thousands of customers into the same bandwidth.
  • Are affordable alternatives to telephone and cable company service.
  • Qualify for federal funds through the E-Rate program.

Grow the revenue. Prior to forming WANRack, the company’s executive management team gained years of experience in the fiber-optics industry, and recognized the opportunity to offer an alternative to incumbent providers. During 2012, WANRack’s first year of operation, it built networks for two school districts. Since then, it has built private networks for schools across eight states and increased revenue by 760 percent, topping the $1 million mark. During 2015, the company published a white paper, “E-Rate Changes Put Private Fiber WANs Within Reach for K-12 Schools.” The paper attracts school districts to the benefits of private networks, and provides a simplified, neutral summary of complicated, updated E-Rate rules. 

Expand the market. WANRack plans to double its revenue during 2016. Oyler says achieving that growth depends on staying connected with the latest technologies K-12 schools are embracing, including hardware and software. It also must remain aware of the needs of students and educators so it can become school districts’ go-to resource for up-to-date information about technology and the E-Rate program.

Insight/Hindsight. “Not only did FastTrac provide me with valuable insight about starting and operating a business, but I also met my first investor through a relationship with one of the FastTrac panelists. I recommend the course to anyone who aspires to leading a technology or service-based business.“