IoT Tech Expo: what’s in it for startups?
What opportunities and challenges are IoT startups facing? The Digital Catapult went along to this year’s IoT Tech Expo Europe to find out how small businesses in this sector are taking advantage.
The statistics and predictions around IoT are incredibly promising. Gartner expects 20.8bn devices to be connected by 2020 and Cisco predict the IoT market to be worth $14.4trn by 2022. It’s no wonder that tech startups are looking towards the Internet of Things for new opportunities.
Funding your way into IoT
Bearing this in mind, what were the main questions and take away points for startups at this year’s IoT Tech Expo Europe? Here are highlights from one of the many informative panel discussions.
Q) Which areas of technology appeal to investors?
“Angel investors are interested in smart cities and healthcare. These areas will affect daily lives, cover large areas of technology and have lots of potential to scale.” – Jenny Tooth, CEO, UK Business Angels
“Artificial Intelligence is really big right now; investors can see AI providing real world solutions to people.” – Angel Garcia, Founding Partner, Startupbootcamp
Q) What should startups consider before pitching?
“Startups need to ensure their idea delivers real value. That’s why there is lots of potential in healthcare – it saves lives!” – Max Kelly, Managing Director, Techstars
“Start small and be laser focused. Be diligent with your time; sometimes saying ‘no’ is better than saying ‘yes’.” – Fergie Miller, IoT Lead, EIT Digital
Q) What challenges are IoT startups facing?
“IoT companies rely on hardware, software and firmware. Getting all parts ready and working costs time and money, so it’s harder for businesses in IoT to meet deadlines.” – Max Kelly
“There are a lack of case studies and exit stories for startups to learn from. These are essential in driving enthusiasm for IoT.” – Jenny Tooth
To drive such enthusiasm, IoT Tech Expo gave startups a platform to share their success stories. Alessandro Guazzi, Co-Founder of Sentimoto, revealed how they found a gap in the wearables market for vulnerable, elderly people. Sentimoto did their research; after three months of testing, they created an easy to use smartphone app to monitor users’ health and wellbeing. Originally supported by Innovate UK, Sentimoto are now working with Google to create algorithms to detect users’ social isolation and frailty.
We also learnt about Ebee, who make charging stations for electric vehicles. They found various ways to monetise their service, including selling advertising space and making revenue from traffic data services. When asked what he would do differently next time, Co-Founder Dr. Henning Heppner said he would, “limit Ebee’s market to just one region rather than start with three…otherwise it’s easy to lose focus”. His words certainly tie in with Fergie Miller’s idea of “being laser focused”.
The IoT Tech Expo also gave startups the chance to showcase their products, services and platforms. A few months ago we published a blog post featuring Primo Toys and their product Cubetto; a smart wooden robot designed to help pre-school children learn basic coding skills. We were therefore delighted to catch up with them and find out more about their Crowdcube campaign.
RFMOD and SAM Labs , two SMEs currently in the IoTUK showcase, were also in attendance. RFMOD’s BeanIoT, a wearable device that collects users’ environmental data, attracted lots of attention. SAM Labs demoed their Bluetooth enabled wireless blocks which we used to take a selfie!
This year’s IoT Tech Expo Europe made it clear that there is real value in the Internet of Things for startups. We’re already looking forward to seeing what next year’s expo has to offer!