Tom Maguire of Brightspeed

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Tom Maguire (co-founder and CEO) of Brightspeed, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Brightspeed – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

The three founders, Chris Creager, Bob Mudge and I, come from decades of telecom experience. When we retired, we realized there was a unique opportunity to create a different kind of telecom company, a company that is hyper-focused on giving the best customer experience and provides superfast connectivity to rural and suburban communities with limited or no choices for high-speed internet access.

Brightspeed launched in October 2022 when we finalized the acquisition of incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) assets in 20 states from Lumen. We are investing $2 billion in a multi-year build of a fiber broadband network across that footprint that will reach more than three million homes and businesses, with approximately 800,000 of those right here in North Carolina. The pandemic shined a light on the digital divide. Now, we are trying to bridge it.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

The opportunity to be the best network provider in the country is within our grasp, but the pace to get there will never be fast enough. We have encountered supply chain, vendor, and permitting challenges along the way that have slowed us down in some areas.

Building a network of this size and scope from scratch is a very complex and challenging task and can only be done with the integration of hundreds of vendors and suppliers, plus coordination with countless local municipalities. It’s exceptionally hard work, but it’s worth the time and effort to bring these kinds of internet speeds to people who don’t have it today.

What does the future hold for Brightspeed?

Since day one, we have been hyper-focused on our strategic priorities. Whether you are a new employee, joined us through the acquisition, or were among the first few to help stand up the company, every one of us knows we are focused on delivering an excellent customer experience, building/selling our state-of-the-art fiber network, enabling/investing in our people, and delivering on operational and financial key performance indicators.

Continuing to focus on these strategic priorities will contribute to Brightspeed’s future success and enable us to deliver on our planned multi-year build of a state-of-the-art fiber broadband network. We are building a future where millions of Americans have access to high-speed connectivity that they historically lacked.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Charlotte?

We chose North Carolina as our corporate home because of the state’s dynamic economy, innovative/business-friendly environment, and diverse talent pipeline. Additionally, the state has a robust higher education landscape critical to startups like Brightspeed looking for talent to drive business growth.

Charlotte is a city that fosters a welcoming business culture with opportunities for growth. The energy of this city mirrors that of our company – vibrant, diverse, and inclusive. What we found here is a location that embodies our company culture and values. Our headquarters in South End provides our employees a space that enhances their experience through its amenities and inspires them to deliver on our company promise to give customers faster, more reliable internet service. These are all things that startups value – inspiring spaces, diverse talent, and a welcoming community.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

You may have the idea and the funding, but you need to surround yourself with the people that can make that idea a successful reality. Brightspeed is where it is because we each had our area of expertise but also knew where we needed help. We hired the people that had expertise in the areas we didn’t.


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series