The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the hottest topics in the technology industry, and it is no surprise that startups such as Arkessa spring up to capitalise on the opportunities.
Arkessa was founded by Andrew Orrock in 2009 with the support of a board of directors formed of experts and serial entrepreneurs, and effectively provides a single platform from which companies can control a wide and varied range of internet and networked devices.
The firm is based in Bishop's Stortford in the heart of 'Silicon Fen', and has grown to employ around 40 people across the UK and Germany. We fired our spotlight questions at Orrock to find out more about his startup.
Tell us more about Arkessa.
Arkessa enables organisations to monitor, manage and control remote assets anywhere on the planet. Whether it's cattle or cars, in-home smart heating control or healthcare devices, pay-as-you-drive insurance or police speed check systems, we connect them all to the IoT using any mobile network or radio technology.
Why did you set up Arkessa?
Our passion has always been to make it easy for organisations of all sizes to connect to the IoT. We developed the concept in the early ‘noughties' when we realised that the world would move to a place where all devices would be connected.
Tell us how you got your business off the ground.
We started Arkessa by building open relationships and working in partnership with customers, and the early adopters and pioneers helped us to rapidly develop our propositions around evolving market requirements.
What technology do you use?
We use a wide range of technology throughout our business, including the latest cloud and mobile technologies to enable and support our teams.
We also have our own Java-based technology platform, and use the latest in cloud platform-as-a-service, big data storage and analytics, combined with high performance on-premise equipment for our core network services.
Are you based in an incubator or startup centre?
We have our own offices and operate out of strong networks, working in startup zones around London such as Digital Greenwich and the Digital Catapult and the incredible network around Cambridge Wireless.
What level of funding have you received so far?
We are privately funded through significant investment by the shareholders.
What challenges have you encountered to date?
Our greatest challenge has been to turn the hype around the IoT into meaningful revenue. We are still in the infancy of IoT so large enterprise adoption has lagged behind that of the fast moving SMEs. Nevertheless we have developed some long-standing relations with leading enterprise players over the last six years and that's now paying off.
What's been the biggest highlight of your business to date?
Continuing to accelerate our organic growth rate year on year and being recognised as a Gartner ‘Cool Vendor' in IoT, one of only five globally. Europe has a real opportunity to lead in IoT, so it's great to be there as a British company among the west coast of the US-based startups.
What does your company do to relax or have fun after a busy day?
Most often we'll simply pop to the pub, but we have some weekly team events too. Pizza Wednesday is a favourite, and monthly all-company meetings and offsite quarterly reviews have an activity associated with them, normally driven by the younger members of the team. I love the summer BBQ as all families make a big effort.
What did you do before starting up?
Daimler gave me an incredible grounding by giving me great exposure to all functions of its business. I then joined ABB to originate and fund the next big tech ideas as part of its corporate incubator programme, working with incredibly smart people. After that I left to do it myself and focused exclusively in the tech space.
What are your favourite and worst things about running your own startup?
Watching our team succeed and grow. They are an amazing group with the technical depth and dedication it takes to lead in our space. I am frequently humbled by their commitment and drive for success.
I also love the mix of challenges that come with working with customers and partners as they use our capabilities to launch new products and services. Frequently these are startups and SMEs, so we often share views of the world which always makes it fun.
Worst aspects: running a fast-growing business is all consuming and challenging to ensure a life-work balance. We frequently find ourselves educating the market, which is positive, but it is frustrating to have to battle the noise and inertia of the global organisations entering the IoT.
If you could emulate the success of another startup, which would it be?
Twitter is a great example of timing and passionate execution. They scaled and remained nimble enough to launch new services that the market didn't know it needed until they came about.
Twitter has a strong vision and a team with a belief, but still retained a clear sense of fun, despite the well-publicised 'bumps in the road' for the management team!
Do you work remotely, in a shared environment or have your own office space?
Arkessa has its own offices in the UK and Germany. I am most frequently in London, but I try to work at least one day a week from home to maintain something hinting towards that life-work balance.
Elon Musk, because of his vision and the fact the fact he actually commercialised it and has repeated his success.
Smart or casual?
Coffee shop of choice?
Nude, just off of Brick Lane in London where they have their own micro-roastery.
Beverage of choice?
Espresso morning, peppermint tea afternoon, gin and tonic evening.
Three of my current favourites: the Booking Office at St Pancras (I love the sense of transit between London and Paris and the bar staff are excellent); Mark's bar downstairs at Hix in Soho (the taxidermy makes it quite the quirky place); and my local pub, the Falkland Arms, in the Cotswolds. The thatched rooftops of the village drag in a few tourists, but you get the full mix of the community sharing a drink.
Climote: smart heating control in my home, meaning I can remotely control heating zones in my home. It's powered by Arkessa global connectivity and avoids having to rely on unreliable home broadband.
Do you benefit from startup communities and related networking?
Yes. We are founder members of Cambridge Wireless which has some incredible members, large and small. We also interact with many of the London, UK-wide, European and university initiatives.
Could the government and technology industry do more to support UK startups?
Yes. The government should invest more and reduce the bureaucracy around access to funds. The tech industry is trying hard to reconcile agile and emerging players with larger more established brands to foster collaboration and drive success for both.
The industry must similarly reduce bureaucracy and look at their own processes around assurance, as startups frequently find this difficult and painful to navigate. I've sat on both sides of the table on this one and it's about enabling both partners to do what they are best at.
If you want to take part in the V3 Startup Spotlight contact Roland Moore-Colyer.
Previous startups under the spotlight have ranged from building access security app and platform Ingress One and 3D mapping platform developer eeGeo, to social listening app Twizoo and mobile data security and management firm Wandera.
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