Token airdrops, which is basically when a blockchain project decides to distribute free tokens to the community, aren’t a new phenomenon in the crypto world. Airdrops became increasingly popular throughout 2017, primarily due to ICO fatigue and increased regulatory uncertainty for token issuers. Lately, there’s also been a trend towards blockchain startups raising more of their funds through private sales, leaving less tokens available for purchase from individual investors during the public sale, and with some projects even replacing the ICO with a community airdrop altogether. I wanted to find out about the reasons behind these strategies, and potential consequences…
IoT Venture Studio, a UK based accelerator has announced nine startups as part of its second incubator program for the year 2018. The selected companies are a diverse mix of startups that use IoT innovatively to transform everything from retail to food wastage.
Headquartered in NewYork, R/GA is an international digital agency that launched its accelerator program Ventures in 2014. In partnership with UK government’s innovation agency Innovate UK, R/GA Ventures started the IoT Venture Studio focusing on building IoT based startups. The selected companies will have the chance to work closely with R/GA and use its expertise in strategic marketing, consulting, branding, design, and technology. The companies will also have access to the agency’s network of clients, industry partners, global brand leaders, mentors, and investors. The program will be based at R/GA London’s connected headquarters in Shoreditch.
In Feb 2017, R/GA Ventures announced its first round with ten companies to participate in the UK based program. Latch, a pioneer in enterprise IoT also joined the program as a sponsor. “These startups are bringing the disruptive and refreshing power of the internet to the real world. They show us that Internet of Things technologies is now mature, and ready for business,” said Matt Webb, managing director of the R/GA IoT Venture Studio UK.
NUMA, a Paris-based international technology, innovation, and startup incubator also launched NUMA Angers IoT, the manufacturing, and business acceleration program dedicated to IoT startups in January this year. Another organization IoTA Wales also offers £50K for IoT startups.
Some of R/GA Ventures’ portfolio companies include Shottracker, Sensing Feeling, and Hoxton Analytics.
Snap wants more advertisers to help bump up its ad prices.
Snap is giving away more free ads.
Snap, which earlier this month announced a new program intended to woo away advertisers from rival sites like Instagram with free ad credits, is offering similar ad packages to startups associated with numerous Silicon Valley startup accelerator programs, including Y Combinator.
Other accelerator programs Snap is targeting: General Catalyst’s Rough Draft Ventures, First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund, Berkeley-based The House and SF-based Runway.
As part of the arrangement, companies that have either graduated from these programs or are currently completing them will receive hundred of dollars in free Snap ads, as well as early access to new ad products and some of the company’s creative tools for actually making those ads.
The hope for Snap is to build early relationships with some of the tech industry’s up-and-comers, but also increase the number of advertisers bidding on the company’s existing ad inventory.
Snap sells almost all of its vertical video ads through automated software programs that auction off ad spots to the highest bidder. Snap’s issue has been that many of its auctions don’t have much competition: There aren’t enough advertisers bidding for the ads, which means Snap advertisers are getting better prices, but Snap itself is missing out on potential revenue. Snap ad prices were down 70 percent year over year in the last quarter of 2017, CFO Drew Vollero said on Snap’s last earnings call.
This free ad credit program — and the one targeted at current Instagram advertisers — is meant to bring in more bidders and thus create higher prices.
It’s hard to imagine the new program will have a major impact on Snap’s revenue, at least right away. Accelerator companies are almost always incredibly small, and advertising is not usually a top priority. (Though with free ad credits, perhaps it could be.)
Instead, it’s a good way for Snap to develop early relationships with potential advertisers down the line. It’s the same reason other big tech companies like Google and Microsoft have offered free technology services to Y Combinator startups.
Santiago de Chile is an understatedly cool city. Sure, it doesn’t have the classical buildings of Buenos Aires or the ageless allure of Rio, but what’s lacking in historic charm is made up for with a modernity that achieves being progressive yet unpretentious. This is especially true of its tech, an industry where Santiago’s innovations aren’t just making waves in South America, but are attracting some serious global attention. And the best thing about Santiago’s tech? Much of it is seems pretty set on making the world just that bit better to live in. Santiago on an unusually smogless morning.Creative…
IoT incubator Breed Reply has launched a new search for early-stage IoT businesses that have the potential to benefit from funding, advice, and support.
This is the seventh time that the company has run its Best in Breed talent-search programme.
Last year, one-third of Breed Reply’s 18-strong portfolio raised a total of more than $ 50 million in Series A funding from investors.
Funding for growth
Breed Reply funds and supports the development of early-stage companies in the Internet of Things, in Europe and the USA. Based in London, with offices in Germany and Italy, the incubator’s aim is to support talent by bringing new ideas to market swiftly.
Its grant programme provides early-stage funding and supports startups with active operational involvement – managerial and technological expertise, as well as go-to market support through its Reply network.
It focuses on investing in IOT applications for: health; fitness and wellness; smart buildings and cities; security; industrial IoT; big data; platforms; and drones.
Many of the companies in Breed Reply’s portfolio were discovered through previous Best in Breed talent searches, including:
Canard Drones (Spain) www.canarddrones.com
Inova Design (health & wellness, UK) www.inovadesign.co.uk
Cocoon (smart homes, UK) www.cocoon.life
Kokoon (wellness, UK) www.kokoon.io
Connecterra (agritech, Netherlands) www.connecterra.io
RazorSecure (cybersecurity, UK) www.razorsecure.com
enModus (smart buildings, UK) www.enmodus.com
Senseye (industrial IoT, UK) www.senseye.io
Gymcraft (wellness, Spain) www.gymcraft.es
Sentryo (industrial security, France) www.sentryo.net
Iotic Labs (IoT platform, UK) www.iotic-labs.com
Wearable Technologies (industrial health & safety, UK) www.wearable.technology
The route to success
Emanuele Angelidis, chief executive of Breed Reply, told Internet of Business that the most important thing in a good disruptive startup is its people. “You can have fantastic ideas, but if the team can’t execute them correctly then they will fail. Good management can overcome lots of other problems. It is not always the very best ideas that succeed.”
He said the three most common characteristics in successful IoT startups are:-
- Excellent people
- technology that solves a market problem
- a sustainable, scalable business model.
“If you look at all the businesses we invest in, they are fixing an issue,” he said. “For example, Senseye helps manufacturers prevent machine downtime through predictive analysis. FoodMarble has produced a device that can help people with digestive problems, and Connecterra has developed a wearable device for cows that not only improves the productivity of the herd, but also delivers benefits across the whole farming ecosystem.
“These are age-old problems that are found across the globe. The emergence of IoT is creating effective solutions to some of them, and new business models. So the opportunities for this technology are evident. But whatever the solution, the technology needs to be sustainable and scalable.
“By that, we mean it has a long-term use, and it’s good enough to survive the inevitable arrival of competition – and can be replicated for different territories. Start-ups that tick all of these boxes will do well in Best in Breed.”
Internet of Business says
Applications should be submitted online by 16th of March at 23:59 GMT.
IoTBuild is coming to San Francisco, CA on March 27 & 28, 2018 – Sign up to learn all you need to know about building an IoT ecosystem.
The post Breed Reply launches new investor search for great IoT startups appeared first on Internet of Business.
Security is an ongoing challenge when it comes to connected devices. They have to be physically secure from a hardware perspective; their apps have be secure; and the cloud-based storehouse where they put data has to be secure. Finally, data traveling to or from any of those locations must be encrypted. There are dozens of potential weak links.
All of which assumes that the device maker cared about security in the first place and subsequently built secure features into its product. It also assumes the device makers’ suppliers felt the same. The end user has a role here, too, in that she has to choose a good password and at least try to implement decent network security.
Really, it’s no wonder that we’re in the middle of a growing crisis in cybersecurity wrought by the internet of things. But in the last two weeks I’ve encountered two companies that could change the way we think about IoT security.
The first company is VDOO, which has a silly name, but a bold idea. The founders are trying to solve two problems associated with connected device security. The first thing they want to do is make it accessible to every device maker, no matter how small. The second thing they want to do is make security easy to implement.
Accessibility and ease of use are two distinctly different problems. Today, someone wanting to ensure a secure device has to hire consultants to dig into her code and perform penetration testing. That’s a big hurdle and still leaves vulnerabilities as time passes on the devices in the field. Not everyone has the budget or will to do it. And even if they did, there are not enough security consultants to do it for them.
The second problem rears its head after the consultants are done. That’s when a company has to implement a solution to vulnerabilities, which may be cumbersome and requires engineering effort. Thus security has to become scalable from a cost and an implementation perspective.
VDOO tries to solve this by creating a database of device types, known vulnerabilities, and security best practices associated with each type of device. It has used available firmware from existing IoT products and a natural language processing engine to parse companies’ websites to figure out what a device is and what it does. From there it automatically assigns it a device type and figures out the rules.
The idea is that any device maker can submit their website and firmware to get what is essentially a quick, automatically generated security profile and risk assessment. The challenge for VDOO at this stage is building up trust in the best practices that it will recommend to device makers.
The second stage of VDOO’s business plan is to take what it knows about each device and install a piece of software on one or two of those devices running in a quality assurance lab environment. From there, VDOO plans to monitor that agent for changes in the device that would require a security alert or update, information that it would share with the manufacturer.
The challenge here is ensuring that once a vulnerability is found, the device gets updated and all devices in the field get patched. This can be a tall order in both consumer and industrial settings. Consumers are unfamiliar with the importance of patching, and in many corporate settings IT has to approve patches in order to make sure they don’t muck up some other process.
Still, I like VDOO’s idea of trying to protect devices before they head out in the field in a scalable way.
If VDOO is trying to solve security on the manufacturing side, Armis, another startup, is tackling IoT security from the end-user perspective. Armis offers a subscription-based software that keeps an eye on the devices floating around a corporate campus or factory network to determine what they are and watch how they behave. If those devices get unruly, Armis can send information to other security programs already in use by the enterprise, or it can take action to quarantine or shut down the offending equipment.
Armis CTO Nadir Izrael points out that even if a connected device is secure and hardened it doesn’t obviate the need for a CISO to secure her network. In this context, IoT security is really network security made more challenging by the incalculable number of different devices, which can range from a connected car in the parking lot to the CEO’s Apple Watch.
While the Ford in the parking lot might not try to connect to the network, it’s good to know it’s there. Armis’ software runs on top of existing network software that is used to manage wireless access points. The Armis software can take the signals from all of the devices roaming the halls and shouting out to the wireless access points and figure out what device type they are even if they never connect.
That information is sent to the cloud, where Armis analyzes the data against its own database of more than 3 million device types to determine what it is, how it should behave, and what its capabilities are. Izrael says that not only does the security team use the tool, but IT staff also avail themselves of it to track how many iPhones are in the organization or even how many devices in the building have open microphones.
The thinking here is that in a world of trillions of connected devices an organization needs visibility into the chaos those devices might bring into the network. The advantage Armis has over other companies also tracking network behavior to determine bad actors is that it can also detect devices that never try to get on the corporate network and still tell you what they are doing.
From these two startups, it’s easy to see that securing the IoT isn’t just a one-step process. Many different solutions will have to be cobbled together to build up a sense of security. On the manufacturing side, we’re going to need better implementations from the get-go, and constant watchfulness to address vulnerabilities. For the buyers and users of that equipment, the burden is still high. They’ll have to keep an eye on what these connected devices are doing, no matter how secure they claim to be.