Featured Startup Pitch: Stoke-improving the mobile data experience

By Editor March 15, 2011

Stoke logo 

Company: Stoke
Website: www.stoke.com
Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.
Year Founded: 2004
Founder: Vikash Varma
Investors: Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital, NTT Docomo
Employees: 80

Company Description (in 140 characters or less): “Using Stoke’s breakthrough mobile broadband infrastructure technology, operators can transform their offerings for the new generation of connected device user.”

Vikash Varma, StokeBy Vikash Varma, Co-Founder, President & CEO

Product Overview

The introduction of the iPhone and similar ‘superphones’ has changed the mobile broadband world dramatically. Mobile network operators are competing more fiercely with Internet properties and each other for consumer attention, but meanwhile the avalanche of data is overwhelming their infrastructure and destroying profitability. Operators can’t go on simply buying more and more traditional, high cost core network equipment to fulfill this need. There is an urgent requirement for innovation in the mobile broadband network.

In response to this market need, Stoke has custom-designed its SSX platform and application suite. The offering addresses the explosive growth in mobile data usage in multiple ways, based on a unique architectural approach that delivers exponential improvements in efficiency, flexibility and cost. It is expressly built for 4G/LTE and future mobile networks, but today is also deployed to improve the performance and ROI of 3G networks. For this reason, Stoke describes its offering as a ‘transformation platform’

At the core of Stoke’s product offering is the Stoke Session Exchange (SSX). The SSX is a compact, modular, purpose-built IP session management node that includes a range of line rate packet processing functions. The capacity of the SSX in both throughput and subscriber sessions offers the lowest cost per subscriber and cost per bit in the industry.

Stoke’s solutions are focused in two principal areas: mobile data offload and Stoke Security Gateway solution for LTE (Long Term Evolution).

Offload solutions from Stoke 3G networks offers operators a way out of the spiraling data service delivery costs associated with rising traffic volumes. It breaks out, or offloads, traffic destined for the Internet, that does not need to traverse the operator’s RAN or core network, depending on the solution. The design objective is to reduce as much load as possible on the backhaul network and on existing network elements without interfering with voice traffic or operator hosted data services traffic.

Stoke Security Gateway solution for LTE meets the user and control plane security requirements set by standards body 3GPP and improves the scalability of the Evolved Packet Core (EPC). Promising speeds beyond many fixed line service offerings, LTE / EPC represents a significant departure for mobile operator networks. For example, IP is the common end-to-end communications protocol, mobile network operators will have new security challenges, but should also have access to a wider range of suppliers from which to select the best solutions. The Stoke SSX-3000 Mobile Broadband Gateway with its programmable control plane and line rate packet processing capabilities was designed with the dimensions of scale required for LTE networks. Stoke is already helping NTT Docomo with its eNodeB deployments and backhaul strategy using Stoke’s eNodeBs Aggregation application.

Founders’ Story

Today’s most commonly used mobile applications are so different from ten years ago that the original structures created for this function are no longer applicable when planning for long-term service delivery. This creates a highly conducive environment for a fresh approach, where ingenuity, non-linear strategic planning and a refusal to let the problem dictate the strategy create opportunities to seize significant business advantages. We call this approach Business-Crossover Thinking.

Stoke helps mobile network operators break free from the self-imposed limitations of legacy-thinking and planning. Instead, through Business-Crossover Thinking, Stoke finds new ways to solve the new problems now emerging as a result of the unprecedented adoption of mobile broadband and the always-connected lifestyle.

Stoke’s objective is to combine its transformation platform with innovative thinking, breaking through the barriers of legacy thinking and equipment designed for a voice-only era that prevent operators from maximizing the business value of their service offerings and their networks.

The Stoke team includes engineering and leadership experience from virtually every meaningful networking company in recent history. Its investors have backed some of the world’s most successful companies. Stoke has been guided throughout its genesis by core investors Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia, with participation by other key players including NTT Docomo and Focus Ventures, through five funding rounds culminating in the final, Series E, in January 2011.

Stoke is unique in the mobile broadband industry in that it is one of very few telecom infrastructure startups in its space. The industry is highly specialized and doesn’t attract many entrepreneurs. The sales environment is challenging and long term, the customers are demanding, and the engineering requirements are constantly changing. The advantage is that the rewards are even bigger than the challenges.

Stoke is headquartered in Santa Clara, California with an engineering facility in Bangalore and sales offices in Japan and the UK. Stoke is aggressively expanding its workforce – looking to double headcount in 2011.

Business Model

Stoke solutions address the most pressing problems for LTE and 3G networks: high density secure session management, and mobile data offload to name just two. Stoke sells directly to mobile network operators and fulfills through channel partners. The smartphone industry continues to develop a stronghold over our computing lives and companies that alleviate some of the burden on carriers are increasingly in demand. Recent industry estimates suggest that the number of connected devices worldwide will reach 50 billion by 2015.

The company operates under the principles that: it should be possible for users to access mobile data over the best wireless connection available there and then;
operators should be able to satisfy the explosive demand for mobile broadband data without crippling infrastructure costs or disastrous service failures; innovative mobile offload solutions enable mobile operators to regain control of their network, and compete by generating user loyalty and profitability in the telecommunications value chain.

Stoke’s best-known customer is Japan’s NTT Docomo, where the SSX is deployed as the eNodeB aggregation gateway in the carrier’s newly-introduced LTE network. The company is also engaged in multiple commercial trials with operators in Europe, the US and Asia, and recently shipped its 200th system.

Current Needs

Stoke plans on using its Series E funding to double the number of employees in 2011. Stoke closed 2010 with revenues four times greater than those of 2009 and we expect triple digit growth in the following year.

Stoke – www.stoke.com