Business Startup Accelerator for Internet of Things

Business Startup Accelerator for Internet of Things

TechRIoTFollowing yesterday’s news about support for start-ups doing crowd funding, today we have news of an accelerator for start-ups in the Internet of Things space. Only a couple are specifically industrial, but there are interesting ideas.

These technology accelerators were big in Silicon Valley, of course, but then there’s Beta Works in New York City. This one I have written about before settled in Colorado. The business accelerator is TechrIoT (pronounced “Tech Riot” ). Colorado’s first Internet of Things (IoT) entrepreneurial collaborative, announced the 11 finalists for its inaugural IoT‐focused business accelerator called TechrIoT XLR8 (pronounced “Tech Riot Accelerate” ).

The 11 companies were selected from more than 100 applicants by TechrIoT’s advisory board comprised of technology industry veterans, entrepreneurial visionaries and Colorado business leaders.

Internet of Things Era

“The IoT era will reshape the way technology is integrated into our daily lives,” explained Suzy Gutierrez, Co‐Founder, TechrIoT. “The inaugural XLR8 cohort of 11 companies is front and center in that revolution and will have the TechrIoT advisory network behind them as they take the next steps in their business development.”

Five Colorado companies will be part of XLR8’s inaugural contingency: GoFire LLC , LockState, Place Global, QB Labs, and U Grok It . “As a leading IoT smart lock provider to the vacation rental and Airbnb markets, LockState is excited to be partnering with Arrow, Denver South EDP, and Innovation Pavilion as part of this TechrIoT program to pioneer and promote new disruptive IoT applications” said Nolan Mondrow, CEO of LockState.

Companies participating outside of Colorado include: Envivo Systems (Calgary, Alberta,Canada) Knocki (Houston, TX), MyOrbii (Houston, TX), Ombitron (Kansas City, MO), Smart Office Energy Solutions (Chapel Hill, NC), Tailio (San Diego, CA).

Check out all of them, but pay especial attention to Ombitron. It is the one specific industrial startup.  It provides Business Intelligence for the Industrial Internet of Things enabling business intelligence for the real world in real time. The Ombitron Intelligence Engine Platform enables operational efficiency applications that were heretofore cost and complexity prohibitive. Knocki also has an interesting concept.

Internationally recognized IoT pioneer, Matthew Bailey adds, “TechRiot XLR8 is a bleeding edge

IoT innovation framework that helps IoT businesses to optimise their proposition for success and activate their leadership to the fullest potential. XLR8 levers best in class strengths from the Colorado tech eco‐systems which combined with its visionary IoT innovation framework makes it a world‐class initiative.”

XLR8 applicant organizations submitted business plans that were reviewed by a team of judges who rated their inventive business solutions through an online scoring rubric. Executive advisors then selected the finalist XLR8 companies based on a set of criteria addressing market validation, hardware design and groundbreaking IoT innovation.

Jennifer Maskrey, Co‐Founder at QB Labs, “We are thrilled to be a part of this IoT accelerator and look forward to polishing our company’s vision and products over the next few months”.

XLR8 companies will collaborate in a fast‐paced, business accelerator‐type environment without the usual fees, investor equity expectations or relocation restrictions. “As a start‐up, being included in such a prestigious program with validation and assistance from businesses and experts will be invaluable to our success.” Alan Johnson, CEO Place Global.

Each company will receive supply chain financing from Arrow Electronics and introductions to anchor customers and channel partners. The IoT accelerator will culminate with two investor pitch opportunities, one in Denver and one in Silicon Valley in late Summer 2016.

TechrIoT is a community of Internet of Things (IoT) entrepreneurs, executives, manufacturers, investors, engineers, suppliers and academics that aims to accelerate the adoption and growth of the IoT economy in Colorado‐‐establishing Colorado as a global hub for innovation in one of the fastest growing segments of the technology industry.

Launched in June 2015 by Innovation Pavilion, Arrow Electronics and the Denver South Economic Development Partnership, the TechrIoT community includes more than 1,500 members from the Denver Metro area and across the U.S. TechrIoT is based in the Innovation Pavilion in Centennial, CO.

Support for Crowdfunded Product Development

Support for Crowdfunded Product Development

KrowdsterLet’s take a look at a product development process today. My pool of things to write about has shrunk recently. I’m stretching out a little.

I will be at the ARC Forum next week. If any of you are going, look me up. Or stop me in the hallway to chat.

Have you ever participated in one of the crowd-sourcing investment projects? I invested in a Kickstarter project one time. Got the product eventually. Don’t use it now. But that’s OK. Have you ever thought about funding a new project through Kickstarter or something? These companies are proliferating.

A notice recently came through about a service for people crowdfunding. Krowdster is a big data powered web app for crowdfunding campaign optimization and promotion. It recently announced the addition of two new features to make it easier for crowdfunders to find targeted influencers and trending content in their industries.

In the past, crowdfunders may have hired expensive marketing or PR firms to do the job for them, but thanks to technology and big data, there are now tools that do the heavy lifting for you and make information accessible that has previously been impossible to access.

Influencer Search is a keyword search to discover influencers, journalists and bloggers in any niche, who have a following and who can help to get exposure for your crowdfunding campaign.

Trending Content is an easy way to discover blogs and news sites with trending content in any crowdfunding niche. Input search terms relevant to your campaign and discover content that is going viral on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google. This information can be used to build targeted media lists of the blogs and news sites that are writing about similar topics.

Both of the new tools work for all donations or rewards crowdfunding campaigns as well as the newly approved equity crowdfunding types “Regulation A+” and “Title III” of the JOBS Act.

Optimize & promote crowdfunding product development

Other features:

  • Find Backers and Super Backers on Kickstarter and Indiegogo
  • Build a highly targeted and engaged following on Twitter
  • Get a professional Press Release written and distributed
  • Reach influencers, journalists, and bloggers in your niche
  • Discover viral content in your niche
  • Optimize your campaign page setup
New Media Equation

Industrial Products – Do You Buy Good Enough Or Best?

One of my new favorite tech news sites is The Information. It’s a subscription email newsletter/Website founded by Jessica Lessin. (Interestingly my other favorite is Pando, also founded by a woman–Sarah Lacy.)

Jessica’s husband, Sam, wrote a post with a provocative thought this week, The Good Enough Stuff Revolution.

He asks, “Are Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club razors better than Gillette? What about Honest Co. soap versus Dial soap? I have no idea, and I don’t have any interest in figuring it out. They are good enough and generally easier to buy, and so they win.

“There is, in my mind, a major revolution underway in most consumer hard and soft goods which I call the Good Enough Stuff revolution. As a result, most traditional brands sold through traditional retail avenues are going to struggle to find a foothold in this new world.”

This leads to the provocative idea, “The thing to understand is that Good Enough products aren’t purely commodities racing to the bottom. They are a class of products where the end-to-end experience of selection, purchasing and customer service is more important than the product itself.”

Good enough Industrial Products?

What do you buy? Of course there are many classes of industrial products. Large assets, smaller assets, control components, MRO.

Which of these do you buy because of the end-to-end customer experience rather than diligently searching out best-in-class or merely price?

There are lots of PLCs available, for instance. You could get a smaller one and buy on price. You could go to AutomationDirect and buy direct over the Web (not unlike Amazon). You could buy where there is a strong distributor relationship. You could go with the “new kid on the block”–Bedrock Automation–and go for the added feature of built-in security.

Have you changed buying habits over the past 10 years or so? Do you think you could change buying habits? Where would you draw the line on size of equipment??

More important, perhaps, would be the question–should I be considering how I purchase and re-evaluate the entire process.

Thoughts welcome.

Media Landscape For Engineers

Media Landscape For Engineers

My new boss was chatting with me in his office. He turned to a shelf with notebooks and pulled one off the shelf. Opening it to a tab, he removed a section and told me to copy it and start my own notebook.

The contents were articles clipped and copied from trade press, B2B, magazines. He had given me a new position as program manager in product development. These were articles on project management and program management. This was my introduction to the trade press.

I subscribed and read a variety of publications over the course of the next 20 years collecting useful articles. Some of the magazines were quick reads. Articles were by people whose titles were “marketing manager” with the contents reflecting that point of view. Some were written by engineers or other practitioners with useful information.

When I became a trade press editor at Control Engineering in 1998, the media landscape was unchanged. It consisted of magazines delivered by the US Postal Service on a more or less regular basis.

Wow, but do we have so many ways of getting information these days. There remains the inevitable tension within the trade press of writing what advertisers want to see in print versus focusing on useful information for readers. Information availability moved rapidly from print to Web to email to Twitter to LInkedIn and Facebook.

Advantages and deficiencies

Web–I always had trouble “bookmarking” Websites to return to and read. Or to develop a regular system to go to my Websites to read what was new. It was usually impossible to see what was new, anyway. On the other hand, the Web is a great place to store large amounts of information whether for media companies or for technology suppliers. What I have always desired is a push notification telling me not only that something changed, but also directing me to what changed.

Pop-up ads and enticements, pop-overs, cluttered pages, proliferation of ads all serve to destroy my motivation to go to media Websites to read articles. The race to create as much ad revenue as possible has reached the point for me that I hate to visit to try to read an article.

You also have to beware the “listicle” article. Many devices are designed to get you to click–top 10, view three ways, here are 6 things you didn’t know about. Sometimes they even make you click each one individually. Know why? The publisher needs to improve page views and therefore ad impressions. I have mostly quit getting suckered in.

What I will do is go to an “advertiser” site for a good technical or business white paper or other such information. Today you are more likely to get the kind of information there that I used to copy into my notebook. Oh, and today, my notebook is Evernote.

Twitter–Initially a great conversation tool, now there is so much noise that I seldom look at the stream. The tools I used to sort through the flood often were killed by Twitter. This killed much of my enthusiasm. I still Tweet. Some people actually find them.

Email–Believe it or not, emails remain the best way of notifying people with reasons to visit a Website or otherwise send information. Maybe someday there will be a ubiquitous chat app (Messenger or Snapchat or Slack?) that would take the place of email–but wouldn’t it just be another form of email? In the meantime, it’s not email but the misuse of email that is annoying.

General media–I’m seeing many more articles in Forbes, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other such general media publications that once would be seen only in trade press. Coverage of the Internet of Things, for instance, may be stronger there, as well as coverage of safety and security.

The Future

For the curious, check out the recent Notifications Summit put on by a couple of technology luminaries John Borthwick of Betaworks and Steve Gillmor who is a long-time reporter and analyst of technology. Many hours of video were recorded. They were great presentations and conversations about the developing technologies and uses of notifications.

Start with John Borthwick.

Or go to TechCrunch and search for Steve Gillmor.

New Media Equation

Smart Marketing For Engineers

Marketing for EngineersRebecca Geier was the first marketing person I met at National Instruments in my first year after leaving manufacturing for media. She has remained a friend whom I respect.

A few years ago she left NI and founded TREW Marketing–an agency specializing in helping clients develop and execute marketing projects to an engineering customer.

She has written a book Smart Marketing for Engineers: An Inbound Guide to Reaching Technical Audiences which launches in mid-December on Amazon. She explains the book in a recent blog post.

She sent an early copy of the book to read and review. This is a comprehensive guide to the latest thinking of inbound marketing. It will help you understand the marketing landscape and also understand the unique ways to engage engineers.

Marketing To Technically Minded Audiences

Geier states on her blog, “I have seen firsthand that marketing to technically minded audiences does in fact work, but it has to be as smart as the people it targets. For small engineering and scientific businesses with limited resources or business and sales leaders wearing multiple hats, it’s difficult to even know where to start. And you’re skeptical that the new inbound approach to marketing will even work with your technical audiences.”

Here are three keys to understand the challenge.

“I wrote this book for you. Three points led me to decide to write this book:

  1. Engineers are smart, so our marketing needs to be equally smart, and trustworthy
  2. Buyers are in control…they decide when, where and what they will search on and do it mostly on Google
  3. Marketers now have the challenge and opportunity to get found when our target engineering audiences are searching”

If you are a company CEO or marketing director, do yourself a favor and not only buy the book, but digest its message.