Kontakt.io was founded in 2013 with the goal of helping the visually impaired navigate public spaces more easily, and experience cultural wonders with the same appreciation as anyone else. They offer most secure and configurable beacon hardware and software, enabling you to build any proximity-based solutions. Kontakt recently raised a new round of financing at $5 million. As a thought leader in BLE industry Mindbowser has always been in lookout for the best inputs to share with fellow BLE enthusiasts. Kontakt.io took initiative and shared their journey with us under our BLE Expert Blog Series. Here it is from Szymon Niemczura, CEO of Kontakt.io.
Tell us about kontakt.io and what you’re up to at the moment
Kontakt’s mission is to lead the IoT market by empowering businesses worldwide with beacon infrastructure solutions and expertise. This is a really exciting time for us right now as we recently launched two new projects. The first of these is the Proximity Studio, Kontakt.io’s offline-to-online partnership platform connecting BLE beacon solution providers to businesses interested in understanding, exploring and buying solutions globally – cutting down the decision making process from months to just a few weeks. Secondly we’ve launched our latest service: beacon deployment and maintenance. We realised that one of the major barriers to entry for beacon solutions stemmed from the uncertainty of the challenges of creating and maintaining a beacon infrastructure – we launched this service in order to mitigate the hassle and risk, allowing businesses to focus on their core strengths instead.
What was the motivation behind kontakt.io?
The idea started when a visually impaired friend realized that there must be a tech solution for some of the challenges that people like him face on a daily basis, especially in public places like museums. At the time, there was no ready technology that really accomplished what we wanted so we started approaching things from a different angle. That’s when we came up with what we can call a rough version of a beacon. The key factor was that this device worked really well with a blind person’s smartphone, the device he knows really well and uses on daily basis. When we reached a certain stage in its development, we quickly realized the potential of what we were making. There were a couple of setbacks along the way but we kept going in the right direction and here we are three years later with a hugely successful worldwide operation based on the idea that simple technologies can overcome lots of obstacles.
Now, beacons are becoming the cornerstone of future of the Internet of Things and Kontakt.io’s mission is to empower all businesses to reach their full potential by focussing on their core strengths – letting us take care of the beacon infrastructure.
As a BLE Expert, what technologies and innovations do you think can or will disrupt the BLE industry?
I would turn the question around and ask which industries BLE is going to disrupt. Beacons are finding new applications in all kinds of industries and business environments and we have every reason to believe this spread will continue. Kontakt.io has more deployed beacons than any other beacon vendor in the world and so we have a huge number of use cases that illustrate the almost limitless ways that our technology can be applied. We have lots of expertise in how to deploy the tools that we make available but sometimes even we are surprised at the creative and innovative ways that customers take advantage of the power of beacons. What industry will be the next to be revolutionized through beacon deployment? What kinds of efficiencies and savings can we bring to new businesses? What processes can we streamline? I can’t sit here and tell you that I know, because only time will tell, but we’re excited about it and you can be sure that Kontakt.io will be the driving force behind those transitions, when they happen. We’ve been the leader of the beacon revolution from the very beginning and we are looking forward to providing the hardware, the software, the services and the expertise that will take it to the next level.
What are the challenges that face the BLE industry now?
One of the bottlenecks preventing companies from using beacons in their solutions is the difficulty in understanding the total cost of building and maintaining an infrastructure. That’s why making beacon maintenance and deployment as easy and hassle-free as possible is an issue that we’re focusing on. All clients, especially those setting up a large number of beacons, place a premium on the ability to get the network set up and running quickly so they can focus on their core business. Also build the network of people who are BLE Expert and keep them in loop for continuous feedback and improvement.
What’s your advice for BLE-based businesses?
When we look at the top 100 successful solutions in the marketplace, the thing they all have in common is that they are hyper focussed on particular use cases. Take Conichi and their Hotel App, for example – it enables mobile check-in, door opening via smartphone and secure online payments. They recently raised $10M in funding. The less successful solutions don’t focus enough on what the value proposition is. My advice to businesses is to narrow down the focus in terms of – industry, technology and category (e.g. navigation versus location based marketing).
My second piece of advice is to use creativity. Companies should assess their own business – if there is a lack of creativity, partner up with a creative agency or contact us to help you do so. Successful solutions have the ‘wow’ factor where a beacon really creates value for customers in a positive or unexpected way.
What’s the next thing on kontakt.io’s radar?
Well, I can’t betray any secrets here but I can tell you that our calendar is always full of the same things we’ve been doing from the beginning. Improving the functionalities of our product line. Looking for ways to enhance the customer experience. Providing great support after the sale and trying to stay one step ahead of the demands of the marketplace. This is what put us on top and this is what will keep us there. I can say that we are giving priority to positioning ourselves for a broad entry into Industry 4.0 and developing products that will greatly enhance that world. That means new business opportunities with these products for our customers, so we can enter that market together and set our ground. We want to remain at the forefront of this space and continue to build a company that we are all proud of, a company that our customers truly value, a company that will last. As for the details, you’ll just have to wait for the big reveal!