Springboard - a very cool program for startups in the UK. I finally have some time to share our experience with it!
First, I’ve been recently working on an Internet of Things project called Hutgrip. In one sentence hutgrip is about having total control over every device you own! Springboard was a perfect fit in my mind and for the first time in Europe they announced that they’re going to do an IoT Accelerator!
(Take a deep breath!) Only IoT Projects! That’s amazing! It truly shows that there is a lot of interest in the field these days. The guys at Springboard totally did a great job at creating this program. They have amazing partners and mentors that are already doing great work in the field. We can all learn a lot from companies like Cosm, Evrythng, Bosch, Raspberry Pi and many others. This is actually the best part of the program - the mentors.
How did it go?
As I said above hutgrip was one of the finalists in the selectrion process. The final interviews were in London, a few weeks ago - among the top 20 companies from all the applicants. The program itself starts in Cambridge this March. Before the final meeting with their partners and investors we had 3 online calls with their team. We talked a lot about:
- Where we are in the development process?
- How are we going to take the product to the market?
- What do we expect to get from the program after the acceleration period?
- What the user experience would be?
So make sure to figure these out before applying and putting a lot of time in applications and calls and meetings, etc.
Wait, you know what the best part was?
We submitted our application by the end of 2012 and by the time we got to the interviews we kind of tweaked our business model. One does not simply change the idea after starting to talk to investors about it! You can only get them confused and … it’s over with you. Well after all we decided to be honest to ourselves and do what’s best for the project.
During that first month of 2013 we were actively working on validating what works and what doesn’t. Then more or less, it became clear to us that maybe going after mass market right from the start would be not only hard but maybe even the end for a small startup company. Surely there is no easy way to compete with the giants in the market today - companies like Bosch, Philips, etc. So we figured out that there is a much better opportunity in working with small and medium businesses that can use our platform to improve their workflows.
So hutgrip switched a little bit to building the platform that would help people by bringing smart connectivity to their old devices. We did this project with a small factory, where the people are producing machines used for melting metals. So using our platform we can help them automatically get remote control and monitoring of their machines. as well was notifications - like alerts that the worker would get in his or hers email when something happens with the machine or when an event is scheduled to happen.
This is very very different from the way we started when we were targeting the residential market. So lesson learned - before you rush into any accelerator program, be honest with yourself that you have truely researched all the options, all the possibilities and you are absolutely sure in every sentence you put in that application!
We’re still going to make this project open for the DIY community and everybody who has access to a controller like the Raspberry Pi would soon be able to try out the platform just from the website.
So that’s from hutgrip - imagine IFTTT for the hardware devices around you, or LEGO for your gadgets and online services…. that’s what makes us get up in the morning!