June 1, 2020 Interviews

The successful story of Fluidmesh Networks: the tech company founded by four Italian engineers and acquired by Cisco

Cisco System is going to acquire Fluidmesh Networks, the leading company in IP backbone and wireless connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and applications.

Fluidmesh was founded by four Italian engineers, Andrea Orioli, Umberto Malesci, Cosimo Malesci e Torquato Bertani, out of college in 2005, almost by mistake.

At that time, Umberto and Cosimo were two fresh graduates at MIT, whilst Andrea and Torquato just graduated from Politecnico di Milano. They decided to participate to the MIT 50k Business Plan Competition, by further elaborating Umberto’s master thesis on wireless technologies.

As Umberto Malesci said, “the original idea was to leverage wireless technology for public safety and video surveillance, particularly in municipalities, police departments and large outdoor areas”. In fact, by talking to industry players, they realised that, after September 11th, there was a big need of public safety technologies.

The fact that they got kicked out from the 50k MIT Business Plan Competition at the first round didn’t stop them. Thus, during that summer, they built the first prototype of the first Fluidmesh product for mission critical applications.

Consequently, they decided to bootstrap the business, to set up a sales team in the USA, and a R&D team in Italy. Even if they were Boston-based and they were targeting the US market, they realised that Italy was a much better place for their R&D team, in terms of talents and costs.

According to Umberto, “the Italian R&D team is still today one of Fluidmesh’s main competitive advantage, together with the leading technology of the Fluidmesh products”.

In 2011, two Chicago-based private equity funds entered into the equity capital of Fluidmesh Networks, with the aim to support the business growth. The company was then merged with a system integrator backed by the private equity funds, which after few years was sold to Hitachi, together with a newly developed SaaS software for police department applications.

Afterwards, Fludimesh engaged the University of Pisa to do an advanced research work for high speed mobility. “Fluidity”, a wireless system for train to ground, was then created.

The partnership with Cisco started few years later, in 2016. Fluidmesh Networks was selected as a Solution Plus partner for the Cisco’s wireless solution for rail networking.

Fluidmesh’s connectivity on the move solution is now also used in a number of adjacent industries, such as mining, ports, smart cities, oil & gas, smart factories, and entertainment.

Today Fluidmesh is a leading company in wireless connectivity for industrial IOT applications, with 60 employees and offices in the USA, Italy, France, Peru, Chile, Australia and Taiwan. The company employs more than 20 engineers in Italy.

Few days ago the announcement of the acquisition by Cisco Systems. Fluidmesh will join Cisco’s IOT business, strengthening Cisco’s leadership position in Industrial IOT environments requiring high-availability and fast-roaming connectivity.

What a great successful story!