What it’s like to start a new fixed wireless distie in 2021

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What it’s like to start a new fixed wireless distie in 2021

In March of 2021, a year notable for component shortages, pandemic lockdowns and ever-increasing distie M&A activity, Leighton Reid made the decision to start up a brand new fixed wireless distie, Zero One Distribution.

Reid was formerly an account manager at Streakwave Wireless Distribution and currently works with Bluechip Infotech as fixed wireless solutions manager as well as directing Zero One.

Currently, Zero One is just Reid and one business partner, who is helping to finance the venture. But, Reid told CRN in an interview, they have a clear plan and have already brought a few new vendors into the country.

The latest to join the portfolio is Israel-based wireless hardware vendor Radwin, who join fellow Israeli company Siklu (mmWave products), Italian vendor Siae Microelettronica (microwave products), and British security vendor Sophos.

Reid said that while he realised it may be a tricky time to start a new distributor, it was the right time for him.

“The concept of potentially going out on my own and starting something really began back in late 2019, and then once COVID hit, it was like, ‘Okay, put the brakes on, don't do anything yet’. And then as time goes on, you get to the point where [you think] 'is there really a perfect time to start?”

He added that while he is not rushing into anything, he certainly has a plan in place for where the company is headed next.

“The overheads aren't massive, so it's not a situation where I really have to be churning out huge numbers to stay afloat. In saying that, yes, it's not ideal. I had massive plans to really dive into the security market and I had big plans to meet up with a bunch of people this whole month. That hasn't happened.

“And then you've also got the silicon shortage on top of that, which is pretty bad. For some vendors, I've heard whispers of up to 40, 50 weeks for some componentry. It's seriously a long time. But, you know, I don't think I'm in a different position to anyone else. I mean, the silicon shortage is across the board, so I'll just deal with it as everyone else does.”

What Zero One lacks in scale, Reid aims to make up with both the products the company offers and active support of partners.

“I think I have the knowledge and the understanding that's beyond maybe some of these traditional distributors who are just purely moving the product. They're just relying on the data sheets and the information and then selling a product, whereas I do a little bit more hand-holding in that regard. 

“I'll help with network design, with the actual product selection and implementation, potentially going through and making sure that certain aspects of the Bill of Materials aren't just thrown in there for throwing-in-there’s sake. A little bit more of a personal touch, rather than a large entity that's just churning through product.”

As Reid is bringing in new vendors to the Australian market, partners’ and organisations’ difficulty in procuring kit from the incumbents has actually opened a few doors, he said.

“Some of these guys have been dealing with a specific vendor for a long period of time and have no intent to necessarily move on. But, if they're getting told there's no stock available and then I come around and say there is stock, then it does give us an opportunity to sit down and have that conversation and see if it makes sense. 

“I don't think it's necessarily the case that everyone's just gonna drop the vendor they've been working with just because they don't have stock, but It definitely has opened up some conversations.”

In the long-term, as the company moves into security Reid said that will also bring natural expansion into other areas like smart cities and IoT.

“I don't want to only focus on fixed wireless, I think it's something that I know quite well so I'm gonna start with my strengths and then move out. I also have a lot of experience working with CCTV and working with security vendors and working with wi-fi enterprise environments, so it's not that I don't know it or don't see it, it's just for the moment fixed wireless is where it is.”

Although Reid and the company are Sydney-based, he said that he is working on projects all across the country and in the Pacific.

In total, Zero One is actively working with around 20 partners, a number that Reid is confident will grow as the new financial year begins to ramp up.

“At this stage, I’ll just keep small, doing what I do – working with the key partners that I work with and just trying to bring value to them by being someone that they can just pick up the phone and call anytime. 

“We’re just a small little distributor starting up. Hopefully, once we can get some of these other vendors on board, it'll start to fill out and grow.”

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