Monday, September 26, 2016

In the Spotlight: Smarthelix – Internet of Things getting investment ready

Smarthelix is a Portuguese early stage start-up based in UPTEC (University of Porto – Science, Technology Park) working mainly on the Internet of Things. The start-up comprises 5 promotors having together more than thirty years of experience and a common passion for entrepreneurship and technology.

Smarthelix’s main expertise is a platform for the Internet of Things (IoT) designed to support monitoring and real-time warnings. The monitoring module allows an easy plugin of different sensors used in several scenarios such as indoor/outdoor, submerged in water or on soil, or even in areas with bad network coverage (choice between Wi-Fi, RF, GPRS/3G/4G).

All data collected is stored in a cloud service with a warning system easily configurable. Each new added value, outside the expected range of data, triggers the alarm.

Since the platform has been developed for any type of business, it can be used in very different sectors such as, agriculture, insurance, manufacturing, food, transportation or human resources. Currently, Smarthelix’s main focus is the SmartAgro project, which demonstrates how this platform is used in the agricultural context.

Besides its IoT platform, SmartAgro, with the support of a third party software, offers to farmers an all-in one solution for the entire agriculture business.  The monitoring and the warnings system allow the development of instruments specific to agriculture, such as field reports, costs control, plague or disease detection. 

Key lessons learned from Smarthelix’s journey to funding:

1. Product development: if your product is in an early stage, do not undertake too much marketing or stunning pitches because an excellent product sells itself. First, choose a customer development strategy and focus mainly on product development. Then only, improve your marketing strategy and go to funding programs.  Never forget that you want to sell a real product and not to create illusions.

2. Good team: It is crucial that team members understand their responsibilities and stay focused on the same main final objective. Teams with the same mindset are more solid. It is also important to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to keep improving the team.

3. Idea vs. business: having a great idea is important, but it is much more important to have a fantastic business plan. To attract good investment, it is mandatory to have your product tested on the market, so be patient and put all your efforts to get a product ready.

4. Vision: it is very important to have a well-defined roadmap and not to mix the current state of play with long-term vision of your company. Remain clear, focused and goal-oriented showcasing the growth potential of your company.