Hi Claudio, please introduce yourself to our readers in a few lines

I always had a passion for hardware. I created my first company at 24, providing Bluetooth solutions. Then we started also in-house manufacturing and I still love to watch our pick and place machine mounting components at incredible speed. Yes, maybe I'm still a nerd inside, but I must handle more business tasks nowadays.


You're the CEO of OpenPicus. Please tell us how the idea was born and what is the main focus of your company right now.

Me and Gabriele Allegria started with a draft on paper. Then we created a blog sharing each step of the project. We kickstarted a community and now we are 4000 all around the world.  The idea came because we thought that adding connectivity into an embedded system, in an easy way, could help designers give birth to new ideas.  We created 3 programmable modules that are now the core of thousands of devices around the world. Today we are focusing on the next level: wireless sensors with a cloud backend provided with APIs. We called this: Iomote.com

OpenPicus was born in 2010. I'm sure you learned a lot from the IoT market during these 5 years of activity. What are your "lesson learned" with OpenPicus?

Sure, we did. First lesson is: don't get too excited by what you created. The real excitement must be the market validation of your product. Second is to build a long term value. Hardware is a commodity today, so the software, cloud and tools are the value while the hardware is just an enabler. Third: if your business is not growing you have to pivot.  Sometime is painful but necessary. You can’t stay there waiting for the wind. You must create the wind.

In your article "IoT: 20 billion devices or slides?" you openly address a list of dangerous signals concerning the IoT market. Could you please tell us a little more?

Yes, i decided to write this article because I'm annoyed to see endless discussions based on thin air. The IoT is getting into the same story I saw on the rfid market 15 years ago: too high expectations and while was clear that 95% of the applications were just not possible. Because of physics, not a minor problem! I believe in the IoT but it's not a connected thermostat that will succeed in changing the world. The user will start to buy connected devices when those devices will solve a real problem or provide a real benefit. Today i see products that are connected just because companies wanted to say: 'hey, I'm also doing IoT!'.

What is one thing the IoT market could really benefit from right now?

I think that a wireless network for things is what will make the difference. A low power network that will cover the entire country just like the cellular network. Today most of the connected products use Gprs network. That's crazy because of the costs and the power needed to make them work. But there's no alternative. I wish mobile operators will understand this soon and create a second network for things, with the same level of security and all the backend services for the users. This will make most of the IoT projects possible and accessible in terms of price and installation.

You made a thought provoking and accurate analysis of the IoT state of the art. But what are your expectations for 2016?

The signals within our company are strong. We have an incredible increase of demand of custom projects. These projects are requested by companies that have a real need: save time, money or resources. Wi-Fi seems to be not reliable enough for them, so ethernet and gprs are still the best options for those projects. The 2016 will be a growing year for IoT because we see a significant decrease in the hardware costs and a growing offer for IoT cloud backend. Finally, with a reasonable pricing.

If you had the chance to reach all the wannabe entrepreneurs that are about to start a startup in the hardware field, what would that message be?

Wow big question. I think they must understand the difference between being maker and being entrepreneur. That's not obvious. An entrepreneur has to define the strategy and find and guide the resources to reach the objective. As you can see it's far away from a funny spark of your new pcb in your room. It’s tough to be an entrepreneur, but I think that’s also one of the best jobs in the world. You have to learn, you have to be good in personal relationship and you have to love your customers. The main quest that a wannabe hardware entrepreneur has to ask himself is: how difficult is to replicate my business? Products are easy to copy, business is much harder.

Thanks a lot for your time Claudio. Would you like to tell us what are your next steps with OpenPicus?

We are 100% focusing on Iomote sensors and cloud. There's a strong interest for this system. Professional agriculture, food market, logistics seems to be data hungry. Well, Iomote is a fast food for them, because our sensors can be installed in 2 minutes and the data stream is coming to our Cloud Dashboard right away!

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