Arieso: Shirin Dehghan

The telecommunications company saving the industry millions

What would you do if an email appeared in your inbox trumpeting, “Your company could save £200m”? Probably hit delete and check with IT that the spam filter was working properly.

Not mobile giant O2. The email’s recipient took a closer look at the content and in doing so took its first step to becoming the inaugural client of telecommunications firm Arieso.

Having been headhunted from her mobile communications consultancy, company founder Shirin Dehghan was working at Vodafone when she twigged that telecommunications operators needed to look beyond the traditional, manual methods of optimising networks if they were to make money in the industry.

Her solution was software that could intelligently design and optimise networks, thereby getting the most from the infrastructure already in place.

Thanks to her research and development role at Vodafone, Dehghan knew exactly how much money the idea could save – millions. “I knew that if we could save some of those numbers, it would be of interest to the mobile operating industry,” she understates. She left Vodafone and got to work.

The result was Arieso, formed in 2002 with other industry figures who shared her vision. Private investment helped the team develop the software and, by 2004, potential customers were already curious. Securing the necessary further investment presented a challenge, but Arieso managed to raise venture capital funding. No small feat, as Dehghan explains: “We were one of only three companies in the UK that got first-round investment. At the time, VCs were very risk-averse. It wasn’t an easy time to raise money by any stretch of the imagination.”

Soon afterwards, one of Arieso’s non-executives wrote the email that hooked O2 and the company was invited to pitch its solution. Dehghan went backed by a strong team of heavy-hitters, including a founding director of Vodafone (still Arieso’s chairman) and the support of major industry players.

Coming across as small but credible, Arieso predicted huge savings – around 30% of capital expenditure. O2 was intrigued and on further examination it discovered that what had appeared to be just marketing fluff stood up under close scrutiny.

With O2 in the bag Arieso secured other prestigious customers, including Vodafone, and has doubled its revenue year-on-year since foundation. A US office was opened in mid-2006 and the number of employees is set to expand to 40 in the near-future.

Arieso is now looking to go global with new products; Deghhan admits that “future work is very aggressive”. She predicts that networks of the future will have to adapt to many different environments and says the static network that caters for the mobile community will not be sufficient. New software will automatically reconfigure the networks to cover, for example, unexpected congestion, hence preventing networks becoming jammed. As she puts it: “This isn’t something that’s going to be a nicety – it will be a necessity.”


Company: Arieso

Launched: 2002

Founder: Shirin Dehghan

Turnover: Undisclosed

Employees: 40


(will not be published)