Internet of things startup Thinxtra has raised $10 million from a government investment body, which will be used to extend the reach of its pioneering IoT network to 95% of Australia’s consumers with hopes of driving efficiency in the eHealth, smart cities, agriculture and consumer sectors.
The funding comes from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which manages the Australian government’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund, and will be used to develop Thinxtra’s IoT hardware which allows long-range transmission of data between connected devices, creating a nation-wide network that allows users to collect information remotely.
The hardware, which costs $2 and can run for 15 years on three AA batteries, has a myriad of applications across business, agriculture and energy sectors, and was designed to fill a vital gap that exists in the market.
“It all started when our CEO was working very closely with Telstra, and lost a $15 million deal not to the competition, but simply because the solution didn’t exist,” co-founder Renald Gallis says of his co-founder Loic Barancourt’s struggle.
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“There was no solution for water monitoring technology which would be able to last 50 years on batteries, and cost less than $1 a year to connect to the network,” Gallis says.
He observes that Thinxtra’s offerings, which are “quite bold”, not only solve this problem, but can be used for much broader purposes than water monitoring alone.
“Thinxtra’s low cost offerings can be implemented to any kind of scenario, be it eHealth, smart cities, agriculture or the consumer space,” Gallis says.
He explains that the technology can be used to monitor live cattle, keep track of inventory for large companies, remotely test smoke alarms, and help supermarkets keep track of wandering shopping trolleys.
With six co-founders from around the globe, each bringing their own skills to the startup – whether that’s marketing, lobbying, developing or fundraising -the Thinxtra team sounds a bit like the startup world’s version of The Avengers.
Their mission is to deliver data across their network to ensure greater efficiency, less waste, and more streamlined processes. The startup’s offering that has seen big-name partners like Amazon, Microsoft and IBM all using the software, according to Gallis.
Founded in 2015, the startup has grown quickly to a staff of 36. This raise brings its total funding to $35 million, having previously raised $15 million in seed funding and Series A rounds from investors including New Zealand tech company Rakon.
The company now boasts more than 175 industry partners across Australia and New Zealand, with 1.8 million resources connected through the network – a figure Thinxtra expects will reach 50 million in the coming years, according to Gallis.
If the startup’s growth seems ambitious, that’s because it is: Thinxtra wants to build a nation-wide network that will cover 95% of Australia’s population with the funds from this raise.
“The first thing we are going to do is finalise the [Thinxtra] network in Australia and New Zealand – we expect to have that finished in six to nine months, and that [network] will cover 95% of the population” Gallis says.
“There is a real need for solutions [catered to] the initial customers of smart cities. We want to support that ecosystem of people,” he says.
The future of IoT
The government’s CEFC fund has shown support for startups working to develop solutions that improve energy-efficiency, and this $10 million investment comes just days after it announced its recent $2 million investment in energy-monitoring startup Wattwatchers.
“I think the government really wants to get in to the IoT space – it wants to show that they are supporting companies which are agile and that can make things happen quickly,” Gallis says.
Gallis says startups in the space are not inherently more attractive to investors than large corporations, instead pointing out that it is the ability for a business to innovate quickly that makes it valuable in this space.
“It’s not a question of being a startup or large company, it’s a question of being able to show you can make it happen really quickly,” Gallis says.
Blair Pritchard is the director of investment development at the CEFC, and he says that Thinxtra’s offering fills a vital gap in the market, making it a “no brainer” for consumers looking to use data to inform the decisions they make.
“Lower-value things are not connected to the internet – right now it’s not worth doing it. These things are currently looked after manually in a brute force, brute energy approach – many of Thinxtra’s customers, for example, are operating fleets of trucks just to look after their pallets or gas canisters,” Pritchard tells Startupsmart.
“The economics of this [Thinxtra] solution are extremely effective in terms of both capital efficiency, and carbon reduction.”