We spawned a beast in 2017 with a vision to make a real difference in frontier and emerging markets. Ammbr began with a seemingly simple goal — affordable Internet access. On closer inspection it turned out to be a multi-facetted problem that required a range of products assembled into a full solution. It took hardware innovations, software hybrids and a whole lot of user- and design-driven thinking.

Then we looked at the functional uses for Internet that could have a positive impact in our target markets. We had to select for maximum impact, and the choice was simple — Finance.


One of the greatest disruptions in human history was the mechanisation of agriculture. Human and animal labour that had been the only way to produce crops, was suddenly performed much more efficiently by machines, driven by fuel rather than food. This revolutionised the industry and put society on a totally different course, with people using their newly freed up time for other endeavours.

Mechanisation has since extended deep into our work, and more recent examples use computers. Everything from the spreadsheet and word processors, to e-mail and databases have their roots in previous manual jobs. …


My business partner Raj and I have done a lot of different things in twenty years. We have launched and participated in business ventures in technology, manufacturing, mining, commodities, wholesale and distribution. We have even dipped our fingers into retail, although each time it’s been akin to petting piranhas. In short, we are covered in scar tissue, but it has been mostly fun and rewarding.

A few years ago, we came to a crossroad. Many of our activities have been in emerging markets. Raj and I both come from emerging market countries — India and South Africa. Our experiences have…


I was a newcomer to tech entrepreneurship in 1998, and within a few years I was one of the thousands of survivors of the massive Internet Bubble that saw mass devastation of the sector globally. I was left broke, but the education I received was probably worth the fee.

One of the lessons learned was to identify and own a new market category in which competitors are weak or irrelevant. Numerous examples exist of companies that picked a category, stuck to it, and now dominate it. …


Samal Island is located in the southern Philippines, off the largest island in the archipelago, Mindanao, and is about the size of Singapore. Samal lies across Davao Bay from the largest city in Mindanao, Davao City, and is largely dependent on tourism. However, like much of the Philippines outside Manilla, Internet connectivity is patchy to non-existent. This means that critical medical and other services are hard to reach for the roughly 120,000 inhabitants. Power is also not linked to the Mindanao grid (the power cables were damaged by ship anchors, and were never repaired), and depends on diesel generators on…


Two years ago my colleagues and I made a big pivot in our business plan. We decided to ignore the clamour for financial technology (Fintech) that dominates the Blockchain space, and instead focus our efforts on telecommunications; specifically broadband connectivity.

While one is embroiled in creating products and a business, it is a normal failing to presume everybody knows what you know. Reality is, of course, that most people do not, and are often surprisingly uninterested in the technology. They simply want to know what is best and affordable, and that it must work.

However, occasionally it behooves us to…


The cryptocurrency and Blockchain space is a beauty to behold as it takes its passengers on a wild and unpredictable rollercoaster ride. But is it unpredictable? It seems everybody has an opinion, and that ranges from skeptics and naysayers one comes across in odd places like checkout lines and airports, to so-called domain experts that run massive funds, and even banks. Nobody is proving to be any sort of Nostradamus.

As builders of one of the few Blockchain based solutions in telecommunications, Ammbr has taken perhaps a more unusual view.

What is very interesting from recent events, is the way…


On July 7, 2018, we watched as a hack of our ERC20 token smart contract unfolded. What followed over the next few days cast light on how close the hacking activity lies to the booming industry of security reviews and vetting of smart contracts in the Ethereum space. This mirrors what I have long suspected takes place in the anti-virus space, and possibly other cybersecurity arenas.

Let me first give some background. Our company builds a number of products that use Blockchain technology, but we are not an Ethereum shop. That is to say, we are not focussed on using…


Abstract: A proposal for an implementation of blockchain, inspired by Satoshi Nakamoto, that may be useful during a post-apocalyptic period when electricity is unavailable.

If we make the assumption that an event has occurred (massive and recurrent EMP type events) that makes the generation and general availability of electricity impossible, then what is to be done to maintain an immutable, permissionless ledger of transactions. (We will not delve into post-apocalyptic requirements or applications, as this is deemed to be outside the scope of this paper)

Transactional data

Consider a village or marketplace, where stall or shop owners and transacting with…


“The truth is multi-faceted, a lie is polymorphic” ~ Mr. Churchill I believe

When my team and I bought into the idea of changing the status quo for the bottom half of the human pyramid, we were faced with a fairly binary choice.

  1. Follow conventional wisdom, listen to VC’s and coporate advisors: Focus on one thing
  2. Address a massively complex problem that calls for multiple solutions: Do many things

Being non-conformists we have opted for no. 2.

This immediately disqualified us from conventional VC capital, and we have had to go about this in alternative and creative ways — the…

Derick Smith

Technologist and dabbler in cosmology to aquaculture.

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