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Startup Celona Launches ‘Fanatics’ Channel Program: Exclusive

The enterprise 5G startup is rolling out a formal partner program for wireless connectivity resellers, MSPs, and systems integrators, the company’s primary route to market, after bringing on its first channel chief.

Celona, an upstart in the wireless connectivity space, has launched a new solution provider partner program on the heels of bringing on its first channel chief and closing its oversubscribed $60 million Series C funding round this spring.

The Fanatics channel program gives resellers, MSPs and systems integrators a formal way to interact with and register private 5G and LTE deals with Celona, the company told CRN exclusively. Celona’s primary route to market is through the channel.

“Celona is adding a lot of firepower and a lot of talent,” said Ed Walton, CEO of Celona partner StepCG, who has been working with the company for the last year.

MSP StepCG has built out a robust cellular practice and partners with the likes of Cradlepoint and Celona. The firm has been deploying private cellular networks for its enterprise and education customers for two years and integrating that technology with traditional wired and wireless infrastructure.

Players like Celona are going beyond the bounds of traditional connectivity and businesses are taking notice. Having a strong channel program will help Celona extend private cellular to more enterprises, Walton said.

[Related: Upstart Celona Unveils Enterprise 5G Platform To Unite Wi-Fi, Cellular Connectivity ]

The Cupertino, Calif.-based market newcomer has been actively pursuing the channel as its primary route to market since its inception in 2019. Celona launched its first 5G LAN platform in November 2020.

In March, Celona closed a $60 million Series C financing round led by DigitalBridge Ventures, the venture capital initiative of DigitalBridge Group Inc. Robert Mustarde, senior vice president of worldwide sales for Celona who joined the company in January, said that the company is in a great position with an “overflowing” bank account to accelerate its go to market strategy.

“We’re doing all the right things to ensure that we have an exceedingly long runway, not least of which is closing new customer wins and signing two very large global partners, including NTT,” he said.

The new Fanatics program will give partners a deal registration framework, as well as field engagement and enablement and training resources, said Ron Gill, Americas channel chief for Celona (pictured above). The program will help Celona build trust with its partners.

“Partners feel that some of those large, name brand companies that are out there maybe are competing against them, in many cases, for the same business. So, when you when you’re new and you’re fresh, and you have a reputation for building structures where customers win and partners win, that message resonates,” Gill said.

The opportunity around 5G, while still new, is surprisingly a big area of investment for many solution providers already, Gill said.

“This technology represents where everything is going as it relates to digital transformation. And when you’re bringing a new slice of wireless spectrum to customers to solve use cases and deliver outcomes that they’ve struggled to deliver, it’s a great place for partners to invest in,” he said. “One of the big surprises I’ve had since I’ve been here is how many of partners are building out 5G practices.”

StepCG’s Walton pointed to Celona’s deep bench and the company’s CEO Rajeev Shah, who spent more than a decade leading product management for Aruba Networks as one of the company’s first employees. The company in March brought on Gill as its first channel chief, a tech veteran with more than 20 years of experience building channel programs.

“Obviously, with a lot of the team coming from Aruba, they really understand the enterprise networking world,” he said. “It’s good to see [Gill] come on board. We’ve known [Gill] in the industry and we think it’s going to be a great relationship.”

With more than 25 of sales experience in the networking space, Gill most recently served as senior director of customer experience, global go to market for Cisco. Prior to that, he was Aerohive Networks’ vice president of Americas Sales for nearly three years until the company was acquired by Extreme Networks. He served as vice president of Americas Enterprise Sales for Ruckus Wireless before that.

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