The only good thing about Meraki is that their immoral (and potentially illegal acts) led to the open mesh firmware of B.A.T.M.A.N. and RO.B.IN.
A company that started in an open source MIT project, that initially encouraged hacking their firmware, transformed to retroactively changing their EULA on hardware already bought, making it illegal to run any custom firmware and then they aggressively increased their service fees.
From "happy hacking" to "screw you" - the story of Meraki
"We will be selecting from companies who:
Have raised Seed or Series A funding from a VC or established Angel Investors"
This is a cost to them so they want to increase the likelihood that the startup will do something useful that will feed back into future revenue. There are not a lot of indicators that have reasonable validity and are easy to assess, so they've picked something where others have done some heavy lifting.
So if you're interested in this kind of stuff but willing to try out something other than Meraki, try Ubiquiti (http://www.ubnt.com/). They're our current favorite wireless equipment vendor. Very reliable hardware, really really good prices -- enterprise class wireless for close to off-the-shelf consumer prices. I liked them a little better when their hardware could easily be reflashed to Robin/open-mesh, but Open Mesh has since gone and moved to their own hardware offerings, and Ubiquiti got hit pretty hard by the FCC for making it too easy for hackers to circumvent radio power settings, so they tweaked their ROM chip without updating their model numbers and everybody got screwed by that for a while.
The Ubiquiti management console seems pretty decent so far. We just did an installation for a client where we were seeing 10dB - 20db of difference between his Cisco wireless router and the Ubiquiti unit in the same room. We did have some trouble with Ubiquiti's Java-based management software that ate up almost an hour of troubleshooting time, so there is that. There are ways to do "cloud management" with Ubiquiti's hardware (I liked CloudTrax better...), but it's not real great right now.
If you want to get a wireless point-to-point backhaul going up to around 8 miles, you can do that for about $3,000 of Ubiquiti gear -- really cheap for that kind of thing.
Engenius is another popular brand. We initially liked them a lot, their support for flashing their units to other control software was really good, and Engenius still has a deal with CloudTrax, which is our preferred cloud management software. Unfortunately, their radios just stink. We've had a ton of hardware failures, and we've eaten the cost on some of those. I'm not sure if that's the hot/cold differentials we get here or what, but they just don't seem to last long. In fact ... come to think of it, I think every single one of our Engenius units have been replaced out of necessity. Yuck.
We started out with the off-the-shelf Linksys / Cisco / other routers option, and honestly those really aren't worth the trouble unless you just want basic coverage with fancier management options. Now that Cisco has finished eating Linksys, if you're looking for an up-to-date replacement for that trusty old WRT54GL, try Buffalo's wireless routers. We set up a client with an N300 unit not too long ago. The hardware seems really similar to the WRT54G series (according to my hardware guy), but the built-in Buffalo software was already basically dd-wrt so we didn't feel the need to re-flash.
The only real downside to Ubiqiti is the essential lack of tech support, if you're not able to grok it on your own, then you're kind of SOL (though they do have a great support forum).
The other big challenge to Ubiqiti has been the rampant counterfeiting issues with their equipment, and of course the rumored 'mob hit' on one of their competitors, lol.
Also the title makes it sound like there's a giveaway with 15k worth of routers or something but it's actually 15k per participating startup.
It's all thanks to Toastman's version of the Tomato firmware. I wrote up a nice article about my experience with the whole deal!
The 802.11 MAC has limits, to be sure.
so its not really for "startups", its more of a trick to get companies with capital to have a sales conversation with meraki.
Its a clever sales trick, but it also pisses me off. VC/Angel funding is not the definition of a "legitimate" tech startups. (to borrow from recent oft quoted phrases from recent political discourse)