The inside story of how a trio of young entrepreneurs convinced billionaire Dan Gilbert to back high-speed Internet service in Detroit — and beyond.
Co-founders (left to right) Marc Hudson, Randy Foster, and Edi Demaj, are bringing high-speed Internet to metro Detroit through a new company called Rocket Fiber.
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A few years back, nearly every city in America — big or small — was competing to become a test market for Google Fiber, the search engine giant’s foray into high-speed Internet service that was billed as 100 times faster than conventional residential speeds. In the end, Kansas City, Mo., took home the prize.
But three young entrepreneurs who worked at Quicken Loans and Bedrock Real Estate Services in Detroit didn’t want to wait around to see if Google would add another city. In early 2013, they reasoned if one enterprising company could make a leap of faith, they could, too. They had the skill set and a ready market, but they lacked resources, a business plan, and an office address.
For Randy Foster, Edi Demaj, and Marc Hudson, their combined talents were primed for a startup enterprise. Foster is an expert in network design and management, software engineering, and system administration. Demaj came up through the real estate sector, but had contributed to several tech launches with others, while Hudson’s background is in software design and engineering.
“While developing this crazy idea, Quicken Loans realized there was a major benefit that could be gained out of (bringing it to market),” Foster says. “If you have a crazy idea, you don’t know what value you’re going to gain out of it unless you pursue it.”
The result of their effort will go online later this year in the form of Rocket Fiber — now part of the Quicken Loans family of companies, or, more specifically, a part of Rock Ventures. The service will first be offered in downtown Detroit for what Rocket Fiber says is the same price, or in some cases even a lower price, than what businesses and residential consumers now pay for Internet service.