NoiseAware is an Internet of Things (IoT) startup that sells a device and associated monitoring service to automatically detect noise pollution at any location.  Noise pollution can include anything from loud traffic locations to parties, or just unacceptable levels of noise after a certain time period.  When such an event occurs the property manager is alerted and can take appropriate action.  Their technology is smart enough that one off background noises (such as sirens) will not activate an alert.  

NoiseAware is currently focused on selling to landlords, especially for short-term rentals such as people listing on AirBnb, HomeAway, etc.  Their next area of expansion is the outdoor monitoring for pools, hot tubs, and patios where noise disturbances travel much further. The team has excellent traction with customers in 14 countries and most of the 50 states. 

They are based in Dallas, Texas and have 10 employees.


Why I like Them

As is often mentioned, "hardware companies are hard".  That being said I like that NoiseAware uses their hardware as a lead into their subscription service and have a very distinct (yet broad) niche with little competition.  They have a distinct advantage over general purpose at home IoT devices, such as Amazon's Echo, in that they only listen for noise pollution, so privacy is not violated.  Any landlord will know noise complaints can easily cost a lot of money and signal damage being done to the property.  The company has grown extremely fast with the popularity of AirBnb and the industry of multi-AirBnb property managers that have sprung up in the last few years.

I also really like that this technology has surprisingly widespread applications.  The obvious use case is for rentals (a large market as it is) but the team has received a ton of interest from hotel chains, city officials, school dormitories, senior living communities - basically anywhere people sleep has shown an interest in this type of monitoring system.

Disclosure:  I have spoken to members of the team.



Samsara is an Internet of Things startup that offers a cloud platform solution for industrial sensor data.  Their focus is on providing real time analytics and ease of analysis  for industrial sensor system across a number of industries.  Their product team is focused on a complete solution for their customers so they design the software, hardware, and necessary network infrastructure all in house.

Their in house designed sensor systems (no OEMs) focus on ease of deployment and provide the cloud backend so that their sensors drive meaningful improvements once installed.  Sensors to date include cameras, GPS systems, temperature gauges, environmental sensors, electrical power monitors, etc.

The firm was founded in San Franciso in early 2015 and is currently around 100 employees.  It's cofounders, Sanjit Biswas and John Bicket, are successful serial entrepreneurs who previously sold cloud networking company Meraki to Cisco Systems for $1.2B.

Why I like Them

I 100% agree with Marc Andreessen's belief that within 20 years every physical item will have a chip in it and a wireless antenna. Samsara is at the forefront of this wave with their focus on ease of deployment and making the data these items provide digestable and usable by the end customer.  The team is extremely focused on a plug and play model that offers a complete solution to industrial sensor users, many of which are industries that have not seen as much software automation as you'd expect.

Most of Samsara's business currently comes from logistic and transportation fleet tracking.  An example use case in this market is that the company immediately knows if one of their trucks has had an accident as well as track in real time the position, fuel efficiency, etc of a fleet of thousands of vehicles.  Reports from the team are that their product is a relatively easy sell to dispatch services and fleets.

Beyond the above I am also very excited about the potential applications of Samsara's cloud platform across many other industrial sectors.  It is easy to see how this product could be used across the food industry's cold chain to monitor produce conditions from the farm all the way to the checkout line in the grocery store.  Also, traditional manufacturers of physical goods can easily use this type of technology to monitor products during a manufacturing process, warehouse storage, and transportation.

By all reports their latest $40M in venture funding in June 2017 was driven by investor demand, not by a strong need by the company.

Fleet Tracking Overview Page of Samsara's cloud platform

Fleet Tracking Overview Page of Samsara's cloud platform

Disclosure:  I have spoken briefly with members of the company's product team.

Amber Agriculture

Amber Agriculture.png


Amber Agriculture is an agriculture technology startup focused on optimizing and managing crops in storage.  Post harvest grains are stored in giant silos until ready for transit.  Amber has developed pellet sized wireless sensors connected to the cloud that are distributed with the crops through storage all the way to ending up on grocery store shelves.  These sensors monitor moisture levels, carbon dioxide, temperature and chemical compounds in the air of the silos or shipping containers.  Their first application with this data is to automatically turn on and control fans to prevent crop spoilage and alert farmers of any issues with the crop.

The company is still early stage having recently launched several pilots for their product.  The team is based in Champaign, Illinois.

Why I like Them

Amber is part of the digitization wave sweeping the agriculture industry in the last five years that will allow humanity to feed itself with a rapidly growing global population.  As I have written several times on this blog I am a huge fan of using IoT for old world industrial type of processes to give real time data and allow optimization.  Even small amounts of moisture damage to a crop can lower the price dramatically and when scaled up to massive grain silos the potential savings of this product add up to the tens of thousands. 

This type of cheap, easy to distribute technology will be especially useful to farmers in emerging market countries with tougher climates where crop spoilage is a very severe issue and can financially ruin farmers.  India is a prime example where crop spoilage and rot is a severe threat to the food supply with an average harvest losing 30% of the crop.

Disclosure:  All information is from publicly available sources, I have not had any contact with a member of the company or its investors.

Emerging Trend: Robotics as a Service

An early but emerging business model and set of technologies that I have been following for the last few months is Robotics as a Service (RaaS).  It is relatively under the radar from mainstream media publications but I expect that to change over the next few years as it grows.  RaaS can be thought of as an intersection between Softwear as a Service and Internet of Things.

Fundamentally the idea behind RaaS is that robots are an expensive capital expenditure that has to be paid upfront.  RaaS is a developing set of models that allow customers to lease robots or where the RaaS service provider visits the customer on demand with its robots to perform a specific task.  These services would be enabled, programmed, and provisioned via the cloud.  For example, a customer could deploy or remove services from a variety of robots at will.  They could also develop and deploy their own applications into robots.  The robot provider would handle maintenance and troubleshooting while giving the customer the same benefits as SaaS - chiefly on demand flexibility, cost savings, speed, and scalability.

Although early we are starting to see the first live trials of RaaS including:

  • Nestle leasing Softbank's Pepper Robot for its Nescafe chain of stores to deliver customer service.  The Pepper Robot was designed specifically to read human emotions and tailor its interactions.  A demo of this is fun to watch.
  • Harvest Automation, a Massachusetts startup, offering a robot rental program for its its agriculture robots.  This is an especially good area to test a RaaS business model since farmers needs are seasonal and can be unpredictable depending on weather. 

Some likely big opportunities for RaaS include package delivery via drone or ground robot, agriculture, manufacturing of products that are seasonal, etc.  I expect Amazon's AWS division will begin offering a RaaS product line sometime in the next 5 years.



Konux is an industrial Internet of Things startup based in Munich, Germany.  Their focus in the emerging industrial IoT space is on infrastructure with their first offerings for  rail and subway system monitoring.  They offer a complete solution including cloud analytics, sensors, custom hardware, and AI based predictive forecasting.     

Systems like these give a real time and 'god' like view of public infrastructure that has been unavailable prior to today.  This allows preventive maintenance (i.e. lowering an operator's cost), reduces train delays, and rapid identification of any critical issues for increased safety.

They are a young company started in mid 2014.

Why I like Them

I like industrial IoT startups that seek to take a legacy industry (in Konux's case, rail operators) and seek to digitize it.  There are easily quantifiable cost reductions from this type of product that makes it an easy and sticky sell to industrial customers once they see the value.

In initially focusing on railway operators Konux has chosen a great customer base to focus on since it is large but for many parts of their network still operate using analog technology and manual inspections.  Konux has shown great early success due to their killer feature being the ability to monitor in real time rail switch monitoring, an area legacy technologies had difficulty with.

I also like that they withstood the siren call of Silicon Valley and have kept their company in the center of Europe to be based near their customers.  Europe is light years ahead of the US in terms of rail and public transit and growth will be swifter for Konux staying where they were founded.

Disclosure:  All information is from publicly available sources, I have not had any contact with a member of the company or its investors.