Internet of Things market is rapidly growing: according to PwC forecasts, the amount of IoT products will reach 20-50 billion worldwide by 2020.
November 14, Roman Kravchenko, Founder of IoT Hub accelerator laboratory, told AI Conference Kyiv about Ukraine’s modern market of IoT startups. The article reveals how the IoT market has been formed and what projects are developing in the country now.
“We wrote software for display advertising and knew nothing about IoT”
In 2012, our team wrote a display advertising management software, but we faced problems with sales in two years.
Back then, I started looking for my place in the world and went to the USA. I understood there that the infrastructure controlled via the Internet was the Internet of Things category. Ukraine still did not have such a notion.
In the USA, I heard a range of negative feedback about our software and business. I found out that we entered the so-called Red Ocean, explored the Blue Ocean Strategy, and returned to Ukraine without any clear plans.
“To grow business, I had to become an entrepreneur and investor”
Having experience in software development and the team, I decided to find hardware experts and move beyond display production.
At that time, Ukraine did not have any business incubators and accelerators: there was no format allowing to enhance the probability of exit, known as interest sale.
As the result, I managed to become not only a programmer, but also an entrepreneur and investor, in three years. My team invested more than one million dollars in our projects. This experiment failed to bring any exit, but we obtained a great deal of adventures.
Internet of Things is a complex aspect. The infrastructure is all well, but production scaling is a difficult issue.
“A team of enthusiasts is a key to the development of new products”
We realized the necessity to establish a hybrid model in Ukraine: a kind of partnership where one should both invest in a project and participate in it.
We saw that a community was required: a group of people to perform some useful things in a consistent manner. It is a DIY format: you have an idea and just begin to create something. Over a month, one can build a team of people on a volunteer basis who will be ready to create things at no charge.
This is the key to the emergence of new products. The USA selects out of thousands of startups. Ukraine has nobody to select, thus, it should grow specialists. And we went into this activity.
“The Internet of Things does not invent items, but only combines them”
At some point, I arrived at a conclusion that, besides my team and partner, we also needed investors believing in the future potential of this technology.
We have an interesting format for fund raising: crowd sourcing, crowd funding, and co-investing. To make a project evolve, you should just launch it on Kickstarter. This resource is not a cheap one, but it creates a brand, loyalty, and global community. Therefore, we moved beyond Ukraine: only programmers and engineers generally stayed in the country.
Hub treats the technology as the Internet of Everything. For example, we have a project called Pix where a common display is combined with a backpack: so, the app allows to broadcast emotions on the back. Such a simple thing required a year to develop a positive user experience software. The project raised 150,000 dollars on Kickstarter.
Besides, we are engaged in the Senstone project: a voice recorder that renders voice into text. In our case, a backend for recognizing voice with noises, text, and other interferences distinguishes our project from such mainstream products as Siri. It’s worth noting that the voice recorder and backpack market already exists, but we do not reinvent the wheel. We just combine items.
“Ukraine is rapidly developing renewable energy projects”
Smart energy is also evolving on the Ukrainian market. One of the most prominent projects is SolarGaps, a blend of louver and solar panels. When the founder offered this idea, it turned out that there were not so many similar concepts. The idea seems quite simple, but its implementation requires assembling and developing of software and voice control. Ukraine and China are already producing it.
Moreover, we have focused on a concept supposing energy being generated and consumed in a single place. The Sirocco project is engaged in this issue: the team is designing wind panels for cities. They are installed on roofs. As of today, we have three or four experimental units.
“It is a cohesive team that makes a project succeed”
What we have concluded is that single-handed development process is useless. Successful projects need a community of likeminded people who will always support each other.
Currently, such an environment does exist and is developing in Ukraine. That’s why teams always need various specialists, from developers to marketers.
You'll know more than your colleagues and business rivals.