IoT is the next big thing and everyone is talking about it – ever thought how it can help your business case? The 2014 ESNC Flanders/Belgium Challenge Winner and 3rd Overall Winner Sensolus might be your inspiration! The Belgian innovators developed a personal product line of low-power tracker systems called STICKNTRACK – making non-powered assets smart with IoT. Discover the success story of the former ESA BIC Flanders incubatee and let yourself be inspired by their experiences and major successes after taking home the ESNC award.
AZO Project Manager Luisa Wagner (LW) interviews Kristoff van Rattinghe (KR), General Manager at Sensolus.
LW: Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it.
KR: Basically, Sensolus makes assets talk. We provide a simple way for companies to connect their non-powered assets to the cloud, a typical Internet-of-Things application as it is called today. With STICKNTRACK, we’ve developed an extremely energy-efficient, user-friendly asset management system. By allowing companies to track asset location, activity and usage, using only three AA batteries that last up to five years, we enable them to manage their non-powered assets more efficiently, optimise their logistics and, in turn, reduce costs. In fact, STICKNTRACK makes it possible to track assets that could not be traced or managed before. We’ve achieved this by aligning our hardware and software to the low-cost, low-energy Sigfox network, making this an easily scalable product.
LW: What was your company’s biggest challenge so far?
KR: Our products track asset location based on the GNSS technology, which is energy consuming. The challenge for us is to optimise the design of our product in such a way that it works for up to five years using only three AA batteries, while using GNSS-based localisation. Secondly, we concluded a capital increase of EUR 2.75 million in 2017. This allows us to further expand and develop our team and our product as well as staying on top – and ahead – of technological evolutions in the industry. As raising capital is a very time-consuming process, keeping the rest of the work going during this capital round was quite a challenge.
LW: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?
KR: At Sensolus, we like to keep things simple and straightforward. That goes for the way we work, as well as the products and services we deliver. Our products don’t require professional installation, and the user interface is designed to be used and understood by anyone. Secondly, we are experts in our technological domain. Our passionate team combines top engineers in hardware, firmware and software, and network technologies as well as different backgrounds and personalities. This mixture makes great innovations. Lastly, our team has been surrounded by great people right from the beginning. We have a highly supportive advisory board, the first employees that joined Sensolus are our strongest believers, and we have learned a lot about the ups and downs of the life of an entrepreneur from other entrepreneurs.
LW: How did the ESNC and its network help you to kick-start your business case?
KR: Participating in the ESNC in 2014 was an educational, inspiring and fun experience, and opened many doors for us. Winning the innovation award and grabbing the third place in Europe confirmed that our product is both innovative and sound and that people believe in it. Our ESNC prizes were also a gateway to an expanded network of inspiring people and interesting businesses. It gave us insights into how to tackle certain challenges, being a small company.
LW: How and when did the idea for your application emerge?
KR: Sensolus was built during the early days of the IoT. Back then, there was more brainstorming and speculating going on in the field than parties taking action. Now, a few years later, it’s clear that we made the right decision by going for it in this domain. Our CEO has a background in Space Engineering, which made the interest in satellites the core of our company.
We noticed at the time that a lot of non-powered assets were not traceable, let alone manageable, but for which the rise of the IoT could form a solution. In comes Sensolus with its STICKNTRACK. By relying on the Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) Sigfox, we’ve been able to create an extremely energy-efficient and low-cost tracking service for non-powered assets. Using only three AA batteries, it lasts up to five years.
LW: Let’s reach for the stars – what is going to happen in your company’s future?
KR: The field is evolving continuously. Think of the rapidly evolving GNSS chips, the improvements in localisation, and the IoT ecosystem that is in full expansion. This makes our work very interesting and challenging and ensures we’re not standing still either. As we like to keep moving, and enjoy a dynamic and agile workflow, we see this as great potential for innovation. Additionally, the recent capital increase gives us the means to keep moving forward and to take our projects to the next level, expand our team and boost our international growth beyond European borders. We have exciting things coming up.
Find out more about Sensolus at their official website: www.sensolus.com