Network connectivity startup Konekt raises $1.3M

Steven Loeb · February 19, 2015 · Short URL:

Konekt makes it simpler, and cheaper, for developers to connect their devices to cellular networks

There has been an explosion in the number of devices able to connect to WiFi and Bluetooth in just the last few year, but, as we all well know, it's not always possible to get a hold of those types of signals. Some parts of the world, and even this country, still have terrible WiFi. The problem for developers is that it is very difficult to obtain cellular contracts for their devices. It's both expensive and time-consuming.

That is where Konekt comes in: it provides cellular connectivity for hardware devices in a developer friendly way that is both cheaper and easier to use. 

The company announced on Thursday that is has raised a $1.3 million round of funding from multiple investors, including NextView Ventures and Mucker Capital. Funding also came from Tyler Willis Syndicate which includes Maiden Lane; Chris Muhr, SVP, EMEA and Founder, Groupon; and, Raj Ruparell, Co-Founder, Groupon International + Non Executive Advisor, Groupon.

The Chicago-based Konekt makes it easy for anyone to build connected devices that use cellular connectivity by offering transparent pricing, APIs for device management, and a cloud platform for device communication

Konekt can be used across a variety of industries, Ben Forgan, Co-Founder and CEO of the company, told me in an interview.

For example, if a developer were using something needs to measure temperature, or soil moisture, they would only have to select their hardware, get a sim card from Konekt, sign up for plan and activate it. – They will then be connected to the internet, and able to register data on the device, program it to talk to the cloud and publish their data and then pull that down into app.

The developer can then set an alert to monitor soil moisture when it reaches a certain level, for example. Through Konekt, developers can also set up machine-to-machine connectivity, making it a pipeline of the Internet of Things.

"Devices in the field can talk to each other, or can talk to other parts of the Internet or to other apps," said Forgan. "We are the picks and shovels, enabling IoT apps."

There are a few things that separates Konekt from its competitors, including its market positioning.

'In a sense we are looking to consumerize an enterprised business," Forgan said. "Others take an enterprise approach, where develops have to call and negotiate, and if they don’t have enough devices, they won't get pricing or maybe even the time of day."

By contrast, Konekt takes care of a lot of negotiation for its customers.

On the tech side, Konekt is working with a platform that is more open and developer-friendly, with less effort and maintenance than others in the space.

The typical user for Konekt can be anyone from a hacker to someone developing a personal project to businesses. The company is currently talking to startups making tracking deices for dogs and for bikes as well as those making smartgrid type devices.

Right now it has over 200 customers, and is split roughly 50/50 between individual consumers developers and businesses building large scale projects.

This is the first funding that the company, which was founded in late 2013, has raised, and it will use the funding to build out its team, specifically on the technical, and the sales and marketing, side. Right now it has three employees, and plans to add another three to five. If the company starts to see significant traction later in the year, Forgan said, it might add another 10 or 20.

Forgan also has plans for how to build out Konekt beyond only cellular connectivity.

"We would like to integrate additional technology into the stack so that if you are building product, the device can talk via a mesh network. Or if there is WiFi in range you can use that, but if you go out of range you can use cellular," he said. "We not only want to make it easier to build and get up and running but to integrate multiple techs into devices for whatever app they may need."

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