Meet the newest member of the R100m club
IoT.nxt has had a blistering year, with overseas expansion and a big dose of investment.
ADAM OXFORD | 2 MAY 2017
Nico Steyn, IoT.nxt
Anyone who is still wondering whether or not South African startups can hit the same levels of exponential growth and funding as their Silicon Valley peers need only take a look at Centurion-based company IoT.nxt. It’s just over a year since the company formed, and it recently announced that it has opened an international office, in London, and secured a massive R100-million investment to expand its research and development work.
Since the beginning of 2016, says CEO Nico Steyn, the firm has increased its headcount fivefold. Even so, he says, the demand for IoT.nxt’s Raptor platform has been so overwhelming that the company has found its R&D team is often pulled into active customer support. The main purpose of the funding will be to allow the team to work on new products and solutions in a more focussed way.
The backing comes via Talent 10 Holdings, a Midrand-based asset management company that has been critical to IoT.nxt’s success, says Steyn.
IoT.nxt’s core product is Raptor, a data-clearing platform that taps into the multibillion-dollar market for Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. It’s specifically designed to connect multi-vendor systems into a unified dashboard environment, allowing companies to visualise and analyse complex data in real-time. Steyn says Raptor grew out of challenges that the company faced when trying to implement conventional IoT solutions.
Rip and replace
“We set out to create a platform for connecting subsystems for analytics,” Steyn says, adding that early customers included companies in the mining sector. “What we found was that no one had the ability to take data from legacy systems and industrial equipment and put it into a platform that is independent from the technology.”
Steyn says that many IoT solutions are sold on the basis of rip and replace, and there was a gap in the market for a platform that leveraged existing systems. Some of these, he says, have been in use for 20 to 50 years, but can still be digitised using Raptor.
Over the last 12 months, IoT.nxt has worked with customers in industries as varied as mining, automotive, manufacturing and telecoms, where it has developed remote site management solutions for monitoring. It’s also developed a close relationship with Deloitte – a partnership Steyn says has boosted growth. Together, the firms have worked on Transnet’s IntelliPort concept for automatic port terminals.
Steyn is bullish on future growth, and while he admits that part of the interest in IoT.nxt’s work is down to being in the 'right place at the right time', he says that there are plenty of opportunities for local tech firms to succeed.
"What we found was that no one had the ability to take data from legacy systems and industrial equipment and put it into a platform that is independent from the technology."
“I believe that from a South African perspective, we often sell ourselves short and don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve,” Steyn says. “We have unbelievable people at IoT.nxt, and that’s what makes our business - it’s the calibre of people we have. I’m a firm believer in investing in people and following our own way of thinking.”
The current business climate creates big opportunities for IT firms, he continues.
“Even the local market is looking good because it’s under pressure,” he says, “And this type of technology helps people drive efficiencies in the business in ways they weren’t able to before. Look at the mining firms that have upgraded their credit rating, despite concerns around commodity prices and the economy, because they’ve become more productive. They’ve cut the fat, and digitisation is what makes that possible, and at the forefront of that is IoT.”