IoT startup “Connecthings” provides mobile contactless solutions for cities, and has secured $10.6 million in a Series B founding to expand Beacon Network in the US. We met Louis-Alban Batard-Dupre, Spanish Director of Connecthings, at the head of the subsidiary he created four years ago.
Hello Louis-Alban, could you tell us more about Connecthings?
Hello Pick & Pow! Connecthings is a company headquartered in Paris, with around 30 employees working in 5 countries. Connecthings promotes a cloud-based SAAS platform that aims to manage interactions between public objects and citizens with smartphones – called “smart citizens”. For instance, through NFC technology (Near field communication), by tapping your phone at the bus stop you are able to find out when the next bus will arrive. In other words, we connect the physical and digital goods by orchestrating the interactions between urban objects and any smartphone or wearable devices.
Sounds great! What is your business model?
We work with cities authorities, offering them the opportunity to connect their public objects. So far, we have connected 100 000 public objects such as bus stops, bike sharing stations or touristic places, in more than 20 cities. Regarding our development in Spain, we have already connected 3000 bus and metro stations in Barcelona, 5500 in Madrid and 1500 in Valencia.
Why do you need to fundraise?
Fundraising is crucial for two reasons; Firstly we need to break into the US market. As I have already explained, we usually work with modern –connected- cities hence the US is a very logical target, lots of big connected cities, big coverage rate in terms of smartphones, and no direct competitors.
Secondly, we need to invest to develop our Beacon network. The iBeacon is the evolution of the NFC technology. It is a low energy Bluetooth system allowing smart citizens to interact with public or private outdoor properties. Through the beacon network you can receive ideas and plans through notifications on your smartphone while passing in front of a shop that personally suits to you. This is due to the ability to work on real-time context: where you are and when, your apps and preferences, your potential needs, things you have bought before etc. These factors help build a personal profile which can be used to identify shops and other facilities which may be specifically of use to the individual profiled.
What is the key of your success?
A big part of our success is due to our CEO being visionary. Laetitia Gazel Anthoine created Connecthings in 2007. The smart cities theme was a very vague concept at first, no one really payed any attention. Not to mention smartphones, at the time of her idea the first Iphone had not even been released! She was so ahead of the game that it was very difficult to find other people willing to back her idea and help us advance. However as a company we adapted ourselves to the current technologies and found our market niche (smart cities) which we have stuck by and it is now paying off. Calling your start-up “Connecthings” in 2015 is pretty common but in 2007, it’s just revolutionary!
Some investors did however believe in us and support us from the very beginning. For instance, Siparex et Calao Finance were our first investors and decided to continue to invest in our venture in the serie B, proving that the potential of Connecthings is growing bigger and better. A big thanks to them!
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