Ever wonder what happens to startup companies after they’ve won an IBM SmartCamp?We caught up with SkyFoundry, LLC, the North American Co-Winner from the regional SmartCamp event in Boston this past June. We asked them what they took away from their SmartCamp experience and where the company is now.
Give us your elevator pitch: what does SkyFoundry do and why is it unique?
The Internet of Things is here: smart networked devices are now generating vast quantities of data about our homes, buildings, energy usage, and environment. Access to this data is just the first step in the journey. The new challenge is how to manage and derive value from the exploding amount of data available from these smart and connected devices. SkyFoundry’s SkySpark directly addresses this challenge, helping clients derive value from their investments in smart systems.
The SkySpark analytics platform automatically analyzes data from all types of smart devices including building and process automation systems; water, electric and other metering systems; and appliances and telecom devices, to identify issues, patterns, deviations, faults and opportunities for operational improvements and cost reduction. SkySpark enables an ecosystem of partners to build applications that help building owners and operators “find what matters” in the vast amount of data produced by today’s smart systems.
What do you think was the key to your winning SmartCamp Boston?
I credit the win to a number of key factors:
1. Clarity of our presentation – what the company does, why it matters, who we help, how we go to market and make money. Those things need to be crystal clear. The SmartCamp meetings and critiques helped tremendously to refine the presentation.
2. Market segment – We are focused on an important and growing market segment – the Internet of Things (IoT). The projections for growth of the IoT market are huge so it’s an area with tremendous opportunity for growth.
3. Working technology with customer proof points. We are very fortunate that we have been able to deliver working technology to customers and had real world validation of the value of the technology and our ability to engage and satisfy customers.
How has your SmartCamp experience shaped the company? Is there
anything you do differently now?
Smart Camp provided experience that is extremely hard to get. The opportunity to present your vision and technology to a knowledgeable audience of industry and business leaders, and then have those people test your knowledge, question your assumptions, provide suggestions and feedback is incredibly valuable. The lessons that came out of that experience are now part of our everyday life, from how we structure presentations and speak to customers to how we view our larger business strategy.
In what way did the SmartCamp experience help SkyFoundry most?
The review and critique sessions provided candid and helpful input that showed what factors are important to the audience of potential investors and partners. This is essential information. As an entrepreneur you end up being highly focused on your own vision and the internal tasks involved in building your business and technology. It’s hard to get honest, open feedback that widens your viewpoint. The SmartCamp process did that for us.
In this economic environment, what is your best piece of advice for new startups?
My advice is for startups to focus on proving initial success with a set of early adopter customers. Prove that people are interested, that your solution creates value for your customers, that the technology works, and that you can successfully take a customer through the implementation process. Have more than one example, and be able to explain the benefits the customer received clearly and concisely.
Responses provided by John Petze, Partner, Co-Founder at SkyFoundry.