“Nothing normal ever changed a damn thing.” If you want to change the World – start from changing your product, but don’t get overexcited…
4 weeks or 28 days or 672 hours or 40320 minutes before Slush — biggest startup event in Europe. Together with team of engineers we realise that we need to rework architecture of our new software product UTIM™. If you think that 28 days is enough to change architecture of a complex embedded software product, then you should be nuts! Or you should have no choice as we, back then. Pilot deadline together with Slush demo came to our office without knocking. And if pilot had flexible deadlines, then Slush was inevitable, with its demos, talks with investors and pitch at Nokia in front of the World’s leading mobile operators.
3,5 weeks or 25 days or 600 hours or 36000 minutes before Slush — Alexwas wandering through the mall, near CONNAX R&D office, he thought about best source of motivation for our developers, so they can work 25 hours a day. Nothing is more motivating than idea and its execution. When you work on something more important than a landing page, but you actually make a difference with your bare hands. When Alex came back, he was surprised — everyone was working, clicking fingers on their keyboards. Guys were working hard, without weekends and coffee breaks, their eyes were gleamed, as they’ve found a piece of gold in a middle of gold rush. It seemed that the best source of motivation was product itself — his majesty Universal Thing Identity Module or simply UTIM™.
3 weeks or 21 days or 504 hours or 30240 minutes before Slush — Time and brain are melting. Today is the date when we should start first integrations with our customer’s cloud and hardware. Here it was UTIM™ perfectly designed, professionally architectured, having beautiful code but not working. Track the bug — holy fuck! We were swearing, because we can’t express emotions, when your development career is at stake. You better work — piece of bytes! Stand from under! Stay up all night. Function by function, process by process it started to work. Soon we realised that it’s another Die Hard movie — UTIM™ became so reliable and protected that we ourselves can’t break it. That looked like a good start. But it was slower than modem connection in early 90. That is why we run through a series of optimisations, test and integrations…
2,5 weeks or 17 days or 420 hours or 25200 minutes before Slush — We’re, ourselves are amazed with the development speed and quality, but all our developers understand there will be more. Race is not over — it’s a time for sprint! Now we should create a demo stand consisting of: one LoRa, base station, one IoT slave device integrated with UTIM™, all of this should be put into smart city LED lamps, put on a rack and connected to a digital identity management platform which did not exist yet. All these should be accomplished in just two weeks. Yes, I’ve totally forgot those things should be working and looking good from design & security prospective. So we’ve did a smart trick — from one team we’ve created two teams: one was working on security & backend and second on design & frontend.
2 weeks or 14 days or 336 hours or 20160 minutes before Slush — two hardest weeks in my life. Those who ever had demo or product launch at Slush will understand me. It seems that peak of business activities in Finlandis overlapping with Slush. All people that I’m talking to, having business or casual discussions were having hard time those days. There’s nothing happening in Finland during the summertime, but then all companies have about 4 months to do something. Let’s skip first month as a preparation period, now we have 3 months left. Second month is spend on routine as negotiations and operation procedures.Then we have only 2 months left — and this is when all the action happen. Reasonably November & December are the most busy months of the year in Finland. There is a paradox — it’s becoming even more busy. The main asset nowadays is people’s attention, and November and December are most active months in this sense. But there are two weeks — just before 1st of December when everyone (at least in the business World) is crazy. These are exactly two weeks in which we’ve managed to focus on right things and managed to update corporate identity, including website, business cards, social media and made cool t-shirts for our team members. (By the way, t-shirts are one of the main attributes of a software company). Moreover we’ve created a proper marketing kit including launch presentation, press release, articles etc. But main things happened behind the scenes — r&d team managed to create a device management system with beautiful UI and hardware developers finalised work on the stand. Exhale.
1 week or 7 days or 168 hours or 10080 minutes before Slush — Exhale, inhale, strain, relax again strain — this is not some shrink session — it’s a development process. Backend doesn’t work properly, UTIM™ doesn’t work as desired, but at least everything works. Plenty of teams would leave it as it is, because it works, everyone, but not Russian developers. Do you know what is the secret weapon that almost any (in our team everyone without exceptions) Russian developer has? -It’s called pedantism. Yes, we do want to have everything not just working, but working perfect! In the end of the day, people buy things because they love how they work. We believe that in the era of Internet of Things people and companies will buy things not just because the way how they work, but mainly because of the way how they work together. Minding it we’ve created and polished a demo with one of our mani partners — iLEDea — one of the most advanced street lighting systems manufacturers. The main idea of the demo was not just show our software separately, working on some Raspberry Pi and communicating with Microsoft Azure IoT Hub of Amazon Web Services, but integrate our software in partner’s devices and make them securely and easily communicate with all partner’s cloud systems.
1 day or 24 hours or 1440 minutes before Slush — I woke up in the middle of the night repeating the pitch that I should present in front of huge audience consisting of World’s leading mobile operators. Thanks to Nokia, for making us a part of their sales show. UTIM™ was firstly revealed in front of wide audience on 29th November at 13:30. Everything was said, pitch was smooth and had perfect timing, audience was little shocked that these big innovations can be done by the small but ambitious startup companies. In fact we didn’t make anything extraordinary — we’ve just fixed a broken logic and pit a line between identity for people and identity for things. Identity for People logic is in giving easy and secure access for digital services. While identity for Things logic is in easy & secure management of IoT devices and data. This is what we stand for, and this was the beginning of every dialog that we’ve started at Slush.
0 days 0 hours 0 minutes — Slush — Day 1–11 meetings in meeting area plus 5 meetings outside, and only 20 minutes to cross the street from Messukeskusand quietly eat in cozy Chinese restaurant. The day have started from meeting with an old fellow — FIBAN business angel that we know since previous funding round. Nothing serious — simple status update. Next one — meet development workforce from India. Cool, but guys mainly working on the backend development. And. We. Need. Embedded! Developers. What a bad luck. But we keep digging. Short break, so I could wander through the meeting area (from the east cost to the west cost 😉 This year Slush meeting area was separated on two areas: West and East. It’s also a commodity — when you come to a meeting table, there might be people still sitting there and chatting about business. From outside it looks like startup and investor (what is mostly common) merged in ecstasy and don’t want to lose each other. You should have enough courage to say them: “It’s my turn!”. This is how you could also find an investor interested in your case, be brave, they don’t bite. This is how we could find couple good investment contacts from Samsung Catalyst. We met them waiting for our table to be freed before a meeting with one more mobile operator. Mobile operators (or MNO) are interested in UTIM™ because with their spinal nerve they feel the upcoming change of paradigm. Internet of Things will open possibilities, but also it will be an executioner of rigid business approach. That is why we always have been thinking about the REAL need and pain of our customers, that should be solved by customer friendly product — we can always can fix our business by increasing the volume. Because of this approach we had more than 20 meetings with potential B2B customers, and some of them were B2G. All of our potential customers have the similar issue: they do want their IoT devices to be protected, easily identified and managed. We understand that all these problems are strongly interconnected. For instance smoothness of integration is fully dependant on device identity and security and vice versa.
-1 day -24 hours -1440 minutes — Slush — Day 2 — Demo day I would say. This year we decided to stick with practice learned from previous year. We had one day fully allocated for matchmaking and other day is fully allocated to product demo. It paid off well — on the first day we’ve made a lot of valuable contacts and invited them over to our demo booth on the next day. Even though the demo itself was quite simple — it had two positive aspects:
- It was working smoothly without “Demo effects”. Even if something would go wrong, we could easily fix it, having a specially trained man constantly looking at logs.
- It was easy to explain — “Here’s equipment provided by our customer and partner, they are building smart city ecosystem, based on Smart Lighting Systems. These Street Lighting Systems are sharing LoRa network with devices of third parties, that by the means of our product UTIM™identified and securely connected to the platform, provided by our customer.
By the end of the day we’re reasonably exhausted, because just in 3 days we’ve managed to:
- Launch our product on Nokia RadioActive event in front of the crowd consisting of World’s leading mobile operators;
- Pitch on the stage of Porsche as one of only 3 selected startups. As a bonus we’ve got to ride new Porsche Panamera and talk there about some buzzing trends, like AI, IoT, Cybersecurity, Smart Cities etc. We’re also targeting to figure out a good pilot together.
- Hardcore meeting with Samsung Catalyst and SSIC, that we’ve been waiting for almost a year. It’s great to meet people that know grab on the fly your business idea, technology innovativeness and strategy steps.
- More than 100 meetings in 3 days, which gave us 20 potential customers, 14 collaborators and co-developers and 10 investment proposals. Back then we didn’t realise how much work we had to do after Slush.
- Demo, that worked out great to describe our product and work model. There was always someone standing nearby our Demo Booth and wondering about how that thing works.
-2 weeks or -14 days or -336 hours or -20160 minutes after Slush — Now little more people know what is UTIM™ and excited to work, help and collaborate. Even though we’re loaded with afterSlush work, we’re open for all types of proposals and collaboration. We do want to make Internet of Things simple and secure that everyone around can benefit from its usage, and we don’t care about the means. If you think the same way — Join us TODAY! https://connax.io/community/