From steam engines to WorldWideWeb to the Internet of Everything

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Yesterday I hosted another Startup Stage. Here is a link to the event page (sorry it’s in Polish). Close to 300 people showed up for the event.

This time it was all about the connected hardware revolution. Internet of Things (or just IoT for short) is a hot trend. Founders and investors are taking advantage of the new hardware and connectivity possibilities. With some early successes like Nest — the smart thermostat, we just might be crossing the chasm to what could be the next great tech revolution after the Internet.

Internet of things could be understood as many things. I don’t think there is one great definition for it. From what we are experiencing right now, one could outline few areas of growth:

  • wearables, like fitness trackers, smart wristbands, watches and everything else what we can fit or attach to our body and clothing
  • sensors, informing us of movement, temperature, sound, proximity
  • connectivity, radios and protocols which allow all those smart things/devices to communicate with the cloud

Looking at platforms like Kickstarter we can observe many attempts at giving old things a new life by making them smart through sensors and connectivity.

One of such examples is Woolet — a smart wallet that you will never loose.

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Woolet was successfully crowdfunded through Kickstarter, rasing $332,694 from 2,627 backers. What is really interesting about Woolet is that it’s a product made entirely in Krakow, Poland. What is even more interesting is that it’s note the only IoT product that has it’s roots in the city of Krakow.

A company that you might also recognise is Estimote, the first company which launched a beacon platform. Their home town is also Krakow.

Estimote is on a quest to build a platform for real world apps. Jakub Krzych, co-founder and CEO of Estimote belives that in the near future there will be a shift from writing apps for platforms like iOS or Android to writing context aware apps for real world places like airports, parks or museums. Krzych hopes that Estimote will be this new real world platform through the proliferation of their beacon network.

With the Internet of eveything approach we are entering a new complex world of software, hardware, industrial desing, manufacturing. Many people I talk to about IoT say hardware is hard. I dont’t think that many people actually know how hard and complex it really is. The last tech revolution was all about software. Now with an addition of hardware we are entering a whole new ball game.

Bart Zimny, cofounder of Clime and an IoT design shop called Vorm, summerised it on one of his slides.

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Compared to hardware, building software products is fairly easy. By adding a hardware component to the product, you suddenly have many more problems to worry about. There is a whole new set of skills and know-how founders will need to think about when launching their IoT startups.

If you are starting an IoT startup you should think really hard where to start it. Does your city have the necessary resources for you to build the prototype of your connected hardware prototype? This is where Krakow comes in. I belive (as once Marc Andreessen said) that every city can have it’s own specialisation. A focus on something that will build it’s competetive advantage over other tech hubs (or “Silicon Valleys”). After yersterdays event I am starting to believe that Krakow might have found it’s niche, and it is called Internet of Things.

Krakow because of it’s tech universities has access to talented engineers. Be it electrical engineering or mechanical engineering — we have it all. There are also very modern production facilities like Fideltronik. There are also design schools “producing” great industrial designers. When you ask me, this all sounds like a great foundation for a vibrant hardware hub.

Written by

I’m a Partner at Innovation Nest, a seed VC fund focused on B2B Software. Helping SaaS founders with growth strategies and tactics.

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