Carefully selecting startups to provide strategically targeted investment opportunities for our corporate partners is one of our core offerings at Plug and Play, and our first Internet of Things Selection Day was a remarkable success. The Internet of Things (“IoT”) is changing the way that we look at household devices, improving our lives by connecting the things that we use every single day to one another by leveraging the connectivity of the internet. This revolutionary technological trend has created an unprecedented amount of buzz in the startup world, and Plug and Play has decided to open up an IoT accelerator in recognition of the opportunity to connect promising entrepreneurs to investors and corporations.
Yesterday afternoon, 30 hopeful startups gathered at Plug and Play headquarters in Sunnyvale to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of venture capitalists and corporate executives. Each company was given five minutes to present, and at the end of the last presentation the judges gathered to deliberate and decide which of the companies would be accepted into the accelerator. Of the 30 entrepreneurs that pitched startup ideas, 15 will be selected to be brought on to Plug and Play by the end of the day. The corporate partners represented by the judges included Bosch, State Farm, Ericsson, Cisco, Flextronics, and BMW in addition to venture capitalists from Johnson and Johnson, our internal Executives-in-Residence (“EIR’s”), Ice Breaker Ventures, and KPCB.
Internet of Things is a very broad term that refers to a vast array of ‘smart’ internet-connected devices. Examples of use-cases include: smart plugs for conserving electricity consumption or security systems that ping consumers when an alarm is triggered. Other examples are Wearable devices, such as smart watches, which can improve overall health by providing the user with important metrics while encouraging fitness. Many of the household objects that all of us use on a daily basis are being integrated into the digital world, and this trend has provided entrepreneurs with an opportunity to innovate towards significant improvements to our everyday lives.
The creative solutions presented throughout the day fostered a great deal of excitement from the investors and corporations in attendance. Mark Platshon of BMW i-ventures described the event as “really high quality,” expressing interest in a number of the automotive related ideas. For car manufacturers, the advent of the Internet of Things promises to create a network of cars constantly in communication with one another. Startups like Smartcar, a cloud-based app for the Tesla Model S presented by founder Sahas Katta, aim to capitalize on this promise by improving the manner in which our cars adapt to our behavior on a day to day basis. According to Katta, Smartcar is an “intelligent remote control for connected cars” that improves the user’s experience by “learning a person’s driving habits and automatically pre-conditioning their vehicle.” His app actively anticipates the owner of a given car’s next commute to make sure it is fully charged and perfectly conditioned to that person’s preferences before they set foot in the vehicle.
Jeff Yu, Managing Director of Plug and Play anchor partner Bosch, expressed interest in a few of the sensor-driven startups. One startup in particular, Chemisense, is manufacturing sensors to “develop a wearable air quality monitor to help individuals better understand the air around them.” Company founder Will Hubbard recognizes that air pollution is a serious problem that demands a creative solution, and he is crowdsourcing data from all over the globe to help realize his vision. Dynosense founder Saeed Azimi also presented an exciting product employing a sensor based scanner to capture a broad range of health data in less than sixty seconds with a single action. The Dynosense scanner then uses this data to generate a Healthscore for the user, providing a detailed analysis of over thirty health indices.
There are a number of challenges inherent to the development of the Internet of Things. While an entrepreneur may have a perfect idea for a ‘smart’ device, he may not possess the technical knowledge to make his product a reality. Also, as more and more devices are connected to one another bandwidth and data security will become an increasingly prominent concern. A few of the startups represented yesterday addressed these problems, providing products that make IoT more accessible to entrepreneurs wanting to break into the space. Electric Imp founder Hugo Fiennes presented an innovative platform that uses “fully integrated hardware, software, IS, APIs, and cloud services” to “empower businesses and developers to deploy, manage, and quickly scale their connected products.” By providing entrepreneurs that have valuable ideas with the means to quickly develop products we will be able to successfully move towards an IoT reality at a much faster pace.
Plug and Play’s IoT selection day stands as the grand opening of our accelerator, and we are extremely excited to welcome these startups into our program. To learn more about our brand new IoT accelerator, visit our website.