Since the next iteration of the Internet was coined by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton more than 15 years ago as the Internet of Things, there have been huge expectations about the value it could provide to societies around the world. Last year the hype around the IoT reached a peak as Gartner put it at the top of its famous Hype Cycle for emerging technologies.
But though the key premise that everything imaginable is connected and smart is solid, not many break-out use cases have presented themselves. This might change with the recent launch of The Things Network by Wienke Giezeman. A global open crowd sourced IoT data network that allows things to talk to the internet without 3G or WiFi.
In this episode of HitEnter Samir Saberi talks to Wienke Giezeman, initiator of The Things Network about how he built the network covering the entire city of Amsterdam in just six weeks, the power of the crowd and open systems and how his previous failed startup has made him a more experienced and better entrepreneur.
The power of the crowd
The power of The Things Network lies in the fact that it democratizes the development of IoT. Similar to how the Internet is designed, The Things Network doesn’t have a central governing body. The Things Network doesn’t for instance operate like large telco’s that provide similar services, but that charge people so much they don’t even bother to use the service, Giezeman argues. Killing of as a result innovation and the creation of valuable use cases. “For us it was important to make sure that the principle of the Internet, which is free flow of information, is also applied to the Internet of Things”, he says.
Giezeman compares the development of his startup with how Linux was built: “In the start there are going to be a lot of individuals and hackers contributing to it and than companies invest as well. And the only way they can invest is by building the network.”
It was this principle of building a public network that everybody can use that enabled Giezeman to attract the support of individuals and companies and organizations like KPMG, Deloitte, The Next Web, A-Lab and many more to built the network in a matter of weeks for Amsterdam. And it’s also the reason why it’s already going global.
Entrepreneurs don’t fail, they become experienced
In the Dutch startup scene Giezeman is most known for co-founding the video on demand platform WappZapp. Last year the company announced the cancelation of its services as of January 2015. For a long time WappZapp was one of the most promising startups in Amsterdam winning many awards, for instance the Accenture Innovation Award for ‘The most innovative entertainment company of the Netherlands.’
But the company failed to deliver on its promises. For the Dutch startup ecosystem – or Europe for that matter – where failing is still a stigma, the case of Giezeman is exemplary. Giezeman demonstrates that entrepreneurs don’t fail, but become experienced entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is about being able to “convince people about your vision and incite them to follow and join your path”. He is applying this and all the practical things he learned like communication, PR and building teams at WappZapp in his new projects. “Building a startup is such a great school because you learn what motivates people”, Giezeman says. “You have to provide more than just a salary. Some kind of joy, a way for people to express themselves or just enabling them to build cool stuff.”
Announcing the cancellation of WappZapp in an email to fellow entrepreneurs Giezeman, his co-founder Collin Ellis and team said they are very confident that they will find their place very quickly in the Amsterdam startup community and closed the email with: ‘We’ll be back’. I am glad Wienke is back and I think the Dutch startup ecosystem should be too.