Over the past 20 years I’ve crisscrossed the globe, doing business in dozens of countries and hundreds of cities worldwide but I hadn’t seen Boulder Colorado until a few weeks before Thanksgiving of ’14, and it was perfect timing for me as I approached my transition from Wyless CEO (recently announced) and prepared to open a new chapter in my life in our great industry of M2M and IoT. Besides being an incredibly cool and beautiful city to visit, surrounded by breathtaking mountains, a techno savvy hippie town surrounding the University of Colorado, Boulder is a hotbed of new technology and ideas, and as such I had the great pleasure to attend a very unique conference on social economics and Internet of Things called World’s Greatest Problem Solvers, and it truly opened my mind.Over the past few years I had gradually become aware and increasingly interested in Social Entrepreneurism, especially after my daughter Brenna co-oped with a small import business called Block Shop Textiles, run by two visionary sisters Lily and Hopie Stockman. Block Shop imports hand dyed scarfs made in an ancient technique from a cooperative of master printers in a small town in India called Bagru and sells them online like hotcakes in the USA to fashionistas, driving a percentage of their profits back to Bagru for things like education, medical and eye care; a truly remarkable endeavor that is being met with great success as the sisters moved recently to Los Angeles to open their first retail space and expand their business. But how does that pertain to our great industry of M2M and IoT? Well, turns out it had been staring at me in the face for the past 4 years while the CEO of Wyless, but in Boulder I realized that I was so heads down, I really hadn’t made much of a connection between Machine 2 Machine Communications, Internet of Things and Social Entrepreneurism, while so many of our customers at Wyless were doing just that: building businesses that are transformative to society and in some cases disruptive to big business and the status quo while at the same time creating technology that drives innovation and change, making the world a better, greener place. Turns out it doesn’t take legalized pot to blow one’s mind in Boulder!
My dynamic new friend and social / intellectual mentor Chris Rezendes at Inex Advisors, an IoT investment and consulting firm based in Boston and London had dragged me to Boulder for WGPS, and while there I found myself surrounded by an eclectic group of entrepreneurs, large enterprises, technologists, philanthropists, industry analysts and visionaries for 3 days, discussing how technology can transform how people live and make the world a better place. The gathering was run by Inex in partnership with innovative events coordinator Van Heyst Group and covered topics on Water, Energy, Food Security, Natural Disasters and Agriculture, intermixed with discussions on the impact of social entrepreneurs from visionary companies and movements such as Jumpstart Academy Africa and the Lassy Project, and as such I began to think about an entirely new investment thesis, one that’s subscribed to and evangelized by Chris and his team at Inex, which is that IoT has the potential to be a transformative technological movement, especially if access to ubiquitous networks and sensor data is democratized, and that data is the new social and economic currency. In the next five years leading up to 2020, with the cycles of technological innovation spinning faster and faster, the potential for pure data driven business models driven by analytics will be immense, and the use of that data can transform society, making smarter cities, driving ecological decision making, and solving basic problems like safety, thirst, hunger and quality of life. Furthermore, the dramatic cost reduction in chips, modules, sensors and network technologies has the potential to deliver both roadkill for the companies that don’t reinvent their business models, as well as massive opportunities for those that do. The disruption is real, and the opportunities are immense, and like Chris I now have great difficulty containing my excitement. (Hence my blogging at 3:30AM). As part of my life after such great success in Wyless, I want in. And so…
Watch this Space!
IoT can transform agriculture
St Julien Hotel, Boulder
St Julien with Snow
Pearl Street Mall in Downtown Boulder