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6 Internet of Things companies to watch

6 Internet of Things companies to watch

Logistics, security, satellite communications among the angles being taken by IoT newcomers.

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Network World increasingly has been writing about companies transforming their businesses via the Internet of Things rather than just tracking the latest IoT vendor announcements. But after taking a spin through our ongoing and interactive startup funding timeline, we figured it was a good time to round up some of the latest startups to rein in venture capital for their IoT-related businesses. 

Among these newcomers is TrackNet, which has only been around since October, but is already gearing up to introduce its first products (end-to-end IoT offerings for enterprise and consumer applications) at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which runs Feb. 27-March 2. CEO and Co-founder Hardy Schmidbauer previously served as director of wireless and IoT at semiconductor vendor Semtech and was a key contributor to the formation of the LoRa Alliance, whose members are working to establish the LoRaWAN protocol as an Internet of Things connectivity standard. Schmidbauer sees a big opportunity for startups like his in that “established vendors have been slow to develop end-to-end solutions.  They are all participating in some limited fashion to see how the market evolves and what traction they get, which gives the opportunity to start-ups to move faster and get traction.” 

hardy schmidbauer TrackNet

TrackNet CEO Hardy Schmidbauer: "For Enterprise and [low-power WAN] we believe the long-term killer application is low cost asset tracking"

MORE: 7 Internet of Things companies to watch | 10 Internet of Things companies to watch

Schmidbauer anticipates a big acquisition cycle once startups do get traction of their own. That could be welcome news for some of these IoT companies to watch… 

(As always, we’ve narrowed down our list -- which is not intended to be all-inclusive -- by restricting it to those vendors that have announced venture funding over the past year and that have an enterprise focus.)

ClearObject

Founded: 2010

Headquarters: Fishers, Ind.

Funding: $21.9 million, including $9M in Series E funding in April of 2016

Focus: ClearObject, which until last month was known as CloudOne, is starting off the new year by rebranding itself as “more than just a cloud services company” and rather, an Internet of Things-focused business. The company is led by CEO John McDonald, a longtime IBMer who also co-authored a book with a colleague a couple of years back called “How IoT is Made: Will Your Company be a Victor or a Victim of the Internet of Things?” ClearObject aims to help organizations adapt and manage Internet connected devices, from household appliances to medical gear, and make the most of data collected. ClearObject’s services include developing and testing new IoT designs as well as providing secure hosting for IoT and legacy apps.

CyberX

Founded: 2013

Headquarters: Framingham, Mass.

Funding: $11 million, including a $9 million round announced in August that was led by Flint Capital.

Focus: Via its flagship XSense offering, this company provides security for the industrial IoT, providing both real-time visibility and historical forensics to customers in fields such as energy, transportation and manufacturing. The company last year also introduced an automated vulnerability assessment offering for industrial networks and has a team of researchers who keep an eye on emerging threats and spread the word to help organizations protect themselves (such as from a zero-day vulnerability discovered in a commonly used industrial firewall). CyberX is active in both the Industrial Internet Consortium and Industrial Control Systems Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Co-founders Omer Schneider (CEO) and Nir Giller (CTO) both gained significant experience in cyber security during careers with the Israel Defense Forces.

Kepler

Founded: 2015

Headquarters: Toronto

Funding: $5M in seed funding announced in August, including from NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana’s fund.

Focus: This startup formed by a team of University of Toronto grad students is building a network of “low-cost nanosatellites” (i.e. “cell phone towers in space”) and narrowband-enabled base stations intended to support booming machine-to-machine communications demands with an alternative to on-the-ground infrastructure. The company hopes to have two satellites operational this year and a service available shortly thereafter. Intelligent shipping, smart agriculture, connected transportation and remote telematics are among possible applications to be supported via Kepler’s global satellite communications services.

Mist

Founded: 2014

Headquarters: Cupertino

Funding: $43 million, including $28M in Series B fundin in October of 2016 led by GV.

Focus: Mist boldly refers to itself as “a pioneer in smart wireless networking for the smart device era” – and those smart devices include IoT gear, such as HVAC systems. The company, which emerged from stealth mode last June, offers wireless access points powered by cloud-based subscription services for enabling sophisticated enterprise network management and location-based apps. The access points have IoT sensors that are used to collect data from other IoT systems, providing the potential for a more streamlined information analysis process. And because the same infrastructure is used for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy, “we can bring contextual mobility data to the IoT experience,” says VP of Marketing Jeff Aaron. “For example, we can detect who is in a conference room and adjust temperature based on peoples’ preferences, or we can leverage a combination of motion sensors and BLE location data to accurately track assets in a hospital (e.g. wheelchairs and infusion pumps) with room level accuracy, etc.”

(MORE on Mist: Why one Cisco shop is willing to give Wi-Fi startup Mist a shot)

Roambee 

Founded: 2013

Headquarters: Santa Clara

Funding: $6.55 million, including $4.1M from Deutsche Telekom Strategic Investments in January.

Roambee Roambee

The Roambee Bee

Focus: This software and hardware startup describes itself as an “Internet of Things supply chain and enterprise asset visibility company” that can help customers make better decisions. Its ruggedized smartphone-sized Bee wireless locators use sensors to monitor assets in the field or in transit and enable real-time data access and analyzation via the cloud, and according to Roambee, its 100-plus customers include the likes of Cisco, Nestle and Unilever. Roambee’s technology synchs up with ERP and other legacy software, and the company also has a key partnership with investor Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems IT and communication services company to deliver its pay-as-you-go offering.

TrackNet

Founded: 2016

Headquarters: Rapperswil, Switzerland (with an office in Sunnyvale, Calif.)

Funding: Received $7M in Series A funding in January from Minol Zenner Group and Gemtek Corp.

Focus: TrackNet is building IoT sensors, gateways and apps designed to work on low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) adhering to the LoRaWAN specification. The first offerings are targeted at enterprise facility and property management and consumers, CEO Hardy Schmidbauer says, and “will create LPWAN network coverage at very attractive CAPEX/OPEX compared to deploying a network solely based on towers.” The name TrackNet comes from the company’s belief that the long-term killer app in this market is low-cost asset tracking.

MORE: Storage tank operator turns to IoT for energy savings

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