By @SimonCocking, interesting interview with  Raph Crouan Managing Director Startupbootcamp IoT | Connected Devices Program (). Founding Board Member AIOTI. Mentor, adviser, networker & product lover.

1 min pitch for what Startupbootcamp IoT | Connected Devices does?

Once a year we run a dedicated 3-month accelerator for startups working on a smart connected device within either consumer or industrial IoT. In that time we provide up to 10 startups with office space in London and access to a global network of expert mentors, partners, IoT and hardware professionals, investors and VCs. The aim of this is to help our startups validate, build and grow their business, ultimately setting them up for future investment and success.

How was 2016, what went well? What were the highlights for Startupbootcamp IoT | Connected Devices?

Once we launched the program in March last year we immediately begun an international search for the best startups, visiting 18 different cities, from Bangalore to Boston and Shenzhen to Stockholm. The result was that we had 425 startups apply to join the program which meant we were able to pick a very strong cohort of 9 startups who we began accelerating back in October.

Some highlights of the program were the sessions our startups had with their mentors, and many of the workshops we ran around device design, manufacturing and branding. We had a growth marketing agency on board to help the teams on a weekly basis and this really helped them validate their assumptions and then identify and run go-to-market strategies for growth. And of course our Demo Day!

How did Demo Day go?
Demo Day was the culmination and celebration of three months of very intense work from our 9 startups. Each team had around 5 minutes to pitch their business to over 350 investors, mentors and corporate partners and they all did a great job at this (you can see for yourself here!). We worked a lot with them on storytelling; how they explain the problem, showcase their solution and demonstrate current traction. I think this really paid off. Those mentors or partners who had seen the teams at the start of the program were amazed by just how far they had come in such a short space of time, and those meeting the cohort for the first time said that they were really impressed by the mix of high-quality technical ability and strong business experience within the teams.

What happens next for the companies involved?

Our 9 teams are still with us in our space at IDEALondon which means we’re able to continue supporting them on areas such as fundraising, financials and marketing. We’re helping them follow up on many of the conversations that were begun with investors or corporate partners at Demo Day, and organising more opportunities for them to meet potential investors. A handful of the companies are considering crowdfunding campaigns as a route to market so we have a mentor-in-residence helping those teams prepare the best campaign possible for their specific product and industry.

What are you excited about for 2017, in relation to IoT?

Based on what we’re witnessing at Startupbootcamp I’m expecting to see IoT advance in four ways this year: more B2B and industrial solutions, better home automation, the next generation of connected devices, and the development of underlying IoT-enabling technology. Everywhere you look right now you see people talking about VR/AR and AI/ML. All great buzzwords for sure! One of the things I’m most excited to see though is the development of startups using IoT in high-impact areas such as the environment, sustainability and society in general. There is so much that IoT can do to help developing countries, not least in healthcare, and I think this is where IoT could really shine.

How soon will our toaster be talking to our coffee pot? (to quote Timothy Chou), will we see benefits from this any time soon and what other benefits could we see?

I think for IoT to reach its potential we need to look at solving real problems. For consumers how can we save them time, stress and money (in that order), and from an industrial standpoint how can IoT improve our factories, agriculture, insurance, cities and communities. A toaster talking to a coffee pot is great and technology wise we could do this if we really wanted to, but there are so many other larger benefits that IoT can generate and we’re just scratching the surface of this now. This year I think we’ll really start to see the benefits of a connected ecosystem in an industrial context.

What are the risks and opportunities of a ‘connected you’?

Much has been made over the security issues of IoT devices and as an accelerator we have a big responsibility to ensure that our startups are using the best protocols and systems possible for this. A lot of people will be concerned with having their whole lives digitally tracked and measured, but the companies that will do well in this space are those who can build trust and offer a high enough value exchange. These companies then need to be responsible with the data they capture whilst their marketing teams need to ensure they are actually doing what they are saying.

A particular area that has an enormous amount to gain from the potential of a ‘connected you’ is healthcare, especially when it comes to remote patient monitoring or caring for those who are unable to communicate. Embedded technology such as hearables and ingestibles will play a big role in this.

What’s next for Startupbootcamp IoT | Connected Devices then?

We’ll continue helping our current cohort in their fundraising efforts and then on April 24th we’ll open applications for our second program (people can stay up to date with that and other info through our newsletter) and head out on our international tour to meet some of the latest IoT startups. I can’t wait to talk to some of those high-impact startups I mentioned earlier.


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