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The maker of software for home automation and security partners with a crowdfunding site to lend more credibility to startups creating connected apps and devices.

Icontrol, Indiegogo Team to Boost IoT

Jason Meyers
9/3/2014
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Icontrol has launched a new effort to help foster development of the Internet of Things (IoT) sector, including a partnership with crowdfunding site Indiegogo to lend credence to IoT startups.

Icontrol Networks Inc. , a maker of software for home security and automation, has launched its OpenHome Labs program to help accelerate the success of IoT app and device developers. Through the program, Icontrol will provide technology development, branding guidance, certification on Icontrol's development platform and connections to the company's long list of customers in home automation -- which includes several telecom and cable providers.

"Startups don't have a lot of money or a clear path to success and distribution," says Greg Roberts, VP of marketing for Icontrol. "OpenHome Labs knocks down those barriers."

In addition to the incubator program, Icontrol has partnered with Indiegogo to provide support to connected devices seeking funding on the crowdfunding site. The partnership is designed to give those companies more credibility to potential funders by virtue of Icontrol's support and stamp of approval.

"Indiegogo always has the next big things, so we dreamed up an idea for collaboration -- a way that we could leverage the 22 million devices that connect to our system," says Jason Domangue, VP of ecosystem development at Icontrol. "How can we leverage that distribution to help startup companies accelerate their funding and their go to market?"

That's done through technology support in the labs -- lending Icontrol's expertise to development of more effective APIs and user interfaces and better RF connectivity schemes, for example -- but also through connectivity to Icontrol's platform and customer base.

"One thing we recommend to people is to demonstrate as much as you can how you're a legit company," says Kate Drane, design, tech and hardware lead at Indiegogo. "Having the Icontrol seal of approval goes a long way toward building consumer confidence. It establishes very quickly that a company is legit, and it builds confidence in funders."


Get the latest on the evolution of connected things by visiting Light Reading's dedicated IoT content channel.


Three startups participating in the Icontrol OpenHome Labs program are already launching their Indiegogo campaigns as part of the new partnership: Bttn, which has created a physical button that can be programmed to trigger any number of actions or chains of actions; Reemo, which makes a wrist-worn control device geared toward the eldercare sector; and Zen, a connected thermostat.

The collaboration with Indiegogo is a boon for Icontrol because it has the potential to quickly expand the community of application and device makers building their solutions on the company's software platform, as well as the potential for deployment of those devices by Icontrol's existing and future customer base. "We're doing everything we can to get our service providers to leverage the devices," Domangue says.

Icontrol won't limit the number of companies accepted into the OpenHome Labs program, but will select applicants based on factors like technical feasibility, market differentiation, hardware design and experience of the management team.

"We're looking for ways for people to interact with our software differently," Domangue says. "We're trying to be very fluid to accommodate this sector of the market and let innovation thrive."

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, Light Reading

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MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/8/2014 | 2:41:00 PM
Re: The Internet of Small Things
correct me if I'm wrong, but this only enhances the question of why this has taken so long.
MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/8/2014 | 2:39:59 PM
Re: The Internet of Small Things
You touch on the very important topic of the lack of any real proactive promotion and matching by app stores and project funding sites. This is something I looked at years ago for a now defunct project, which has yet to be addressed.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/8/2014 | 2:31:45 PM
Re: The Internet of Small Things
@Jasonmeyers: "Wouldn't an app in an app store have to be already funded and developed to get accepted?"

To get proper visibility in an app store one must have lots of communication with the client base. To just get discovered without ads and marketing needs a whole lot of luck, so yes, I don't think an app on the marketplace would have done any good for proper funding.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/8/2014 | 2:29:52 PM
Re: The Internet of Small Things
"On the crowdfunding element. The main purpose of IndieGogo and Kickstarter has always been less about the money but about proving demand, and Icontrol could've done that by engaging their existing client base."

Icontrol is providing a base for accumulation and services for IOT software development along with a poking nose in the kickstarter site. The main aim of Icontrol seems to be having a well organized and synchronized system of IOT so that later when the IOT structure changes, they can make profits based on goodwill value.
MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/3/2014 | 5:32:39 PM
Re: The Internet of Small Things
Granted the crowdfunding element wasnt there, although that's been in place and widely recognized since 2010. The main challenge however has always been the legitimacy, and Icontrol could've put themselves center stage with an ecosystem development strategy that grew as more capabilities developed.

On the crowdfunding element. The main purpose of IndieGogo and Kickstarter has always been less about the money but about proving demand, and Icontrol could've done that by engaging their existing client base.

I guess my point is that unless there's a new cultural approach with CEO backing, if it takes 5+ years to recognize this opportunity, what will it take to recognize the next opportunity or will they miss it entirely?...
jasonmeyers
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jasonmeyers,
User Rank: Blogger
9/3/2014 | 4:55:31 PM
Re: The Internet of Small Things
Good point. But the funding and early-stage development support aspects of this adds another wrinkle, right? Wouldn't an app in an app store have to be already funded and developed to get accepted? 
MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/3/2014 | 4:36:44 PM
Re: The Internet of Small Things
I agree on the value, lthough I'm surprised it took this long, as I was expecting something like this from them 5 years ago once the iPhone/Appstore showed the approach worked.
jasonmeyers
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jasonmeyers,
User Rank: Blogger
9/3/2014 | 10:54:51 AM
The Internet of Small Things
I think Icontrol is smart to identify that for now at least, the most innovative apps and devices that make up the evolving Internet of Things could come from the most unlikely sources. This lab and its alignment with Indiegogo puts the company in a good position to latch on to early-stage, out-of-nowhere ideas, embed its platform and push the product out to its sizable customer base. 
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