Dale Rankine, CEO & Co-founder, Reekoh
Over the last 18 months, I have been focused on starting up and growing an IoT platform company. This hasn’t been the first time I’ve been in this position. As of last count, I believe this was now Venture 8 that I’ve been a part of from the ground up, along with countless others that I’ve played a lesser role in. This has however been my first startup in the fast-growing, super-hyped and opportunity-fuelled area of the Internet of Things.
I come from a product development background with experience in both consumer and enterprise sides of the fence. I’ve led the development and go-to-market for numerous applications, platforms and offerings in the mobile and cloud spaces back when they were just emerging. IoT has therefore held that same ‘frontier’ mentality that I’ve previously worked under and presented myself and my team with many challenges.
There are three areas of starting up an IoT company that have stood out to me in particular:
To say that the IoT market is still maturing is a massive understatement. Customers are still defining what IoT actually means to their organisations and product lines. Enterprises are still negotiating internally over their IoT strategies and CIOs are just now starting to be able to put (budgeted) pilot programs in place to begin exploring pathways to market and opportunities for revenue. This has meant that the ‘addressable market’ that most startups focus on to determine the size of the opportunity, and the value of their piece, has been at times a nebulous, shape-shifting creature that has been hard to tie down.
I believe though that the time where these targets are more clearly defined, and opportunities more readily visualised, is fast approaching. In the first half of this year, we have had to modify and adapt our thinking as we’ve moved through product development and customer validation, constantly testing our assumptions and roadmaps. In the second half of this year, with a clearer view of what our customers want, and the value triggers that we’ve built into our product, we have noticed the number of opportunities has rapidly expanded, and the first half of 2017 looks like being a particularly exciting period of growth.
I have often said that the IoT space is the most partner-friendly environment I have worked in. Much of that comes down to the fact that in an IoT solution, there are so many more moving parts and domains of knowledge required than in ‘traditional’ application or software implementations. Very few companies are able to truly be a one-stop-shop and therefore require strong partnerships in order to fill the gaps and advance the adoption of IoT in the market.
“Customers come from all points in what I call the ‘IoT solution value chain’, which consists of device, network, middleware, application and implementation”
We have seen this first-hand, and in fact have designed our product around it. Customers come from all points in what I call the ‘IoT solution value chain’, which consists of device, network, middleware, application and implementation. You can’t be an expert at it all, so it’s important to grow a trusted partner network both from a business and technical perspective. By doing this and leveraging the ecosystem, companies will be able to move more quickly to achieve outcomes.
While this is slightly less specific to IoT (and a general rule for startups), I believe it requires particular attention when building Dale Rankine products, companies and partner networks in this space. Being able to laser focus your product teams during early stage development is critical to getting through deliverables and being able to then test those against customers and the market. The more noise you start to allow into the process, and the more options you begin to entertain, the broader your focus and the more likely it is that your product drifts off course.
With IoT, that noise can be immense. Given the shifting nature of the market that I described earlier, distraction can be easy. This is amplified if you’re developing hardware in terms of the already time-intensive processes. I have paid particular attention to this as we have gone through our own product development, cutting out noise early and making sure that we validate our direction with customer feedback and market analysis.
It’s never been a more exciting time to be in the position of using technology to create exciting new products and experiences, and the IoT in many ways will be at the forefront of this technology boom for the next decade. It’s a time when large companies and enterprises are going to find a lot of value in working with more agile startups to help them deliver innovation more quickly, in an environment where possibilities are endless. I’m very much looking forward to continuing to grow this company and future startups, in this exciting space of the Internet of Things.
Reekoh, founded in 2015 and based in Australia and the Philippines, is the leading open integration platform purpose-built for the Internet of Things. Powered by the Plugin Store marketplace, the company securely and intelligently integrates data from millions of devices with enterprise gateways, cloud platforms, tools and services.