Coen Janssen is CFO and one of the four founders of Hiber (formerly known as Magnitude Space), the company that wants to conquer the world in a positive way with their Low Power Global Area Network project(LPGAN). In 2018, the Dutch start-up will go into space with its own satellites. “What we offer is insight: in theory, all ‘things’ that are able to connect with IoT.”
Coen, could you describe LPGAN in one tweet?
“Connect unpowered devices everywhere, from ocean to desert, quick and easy.”
Are there not enough networks already?
“It is expected that by 2020 there will be 30 billion smart Internet of Things devices worldwide that collect and transmit data to the web. Think about the location, volume, temperature, precipitation and soil conditions. The IoT depends on Wi-Fi or GSM networks, but only 10% of the world is covered with it. We offer worldwide coverage, even in the most remote places such as deserts and oceans.”
Why did you want to do this?
“To turn the world upside down. My personal motivation: the possibilities that LPGAN creates to do well for the world. With LPGAN you can monitor the big themes of our planet, such as environment, climate, safety and food production. You could see our devices as the world’s eyes and ears, which also tell what organizations need to do to achieve a much higher level of operational excellence. ”
Can you give a specific example?
“Take the transportation of chemical substances by train. Currently, with LoRaWAN technology, you can accurately determine where a cargo is located up to one or two kilometers. This requires you to equip the entire route with modems, which cost more than a thousand euros each. With our solution, you can see exactly where the train is and determine the status of the cargo at a fraction of these costs.”
“Indonesia has over a million small fishing boats, with a crew consisting of six to eight persons. With an LPGAN device on board, the fishermen can locate the exact origin of their catch. Without this information, the fish cannot enter the EU or the US. It shows the legality. Closer to home, you can think of the localization of mobile toilets. Their owners often have no idea where they are situated. For a few euros per unit per year they can now have access to this information. “
What opportunities does LPGAN offer for marketers?
“With LPGAN, organizations have a wealth of new data that were previously unavailable. We make companies more intelligent. That forms the foundation for an operational excellence which is ten times better than before . Needless to say, all kinds of new marketing directions will emerge as a result of that.”
How does the hardware transfer the data?
“The hardware is a device of five by two centimeters. It has a modem, an antenna and is powered by a regular battery that can last up to five years. The messages that they broadcast are similar in length to tweets. The hardware passes them through our satellites. ”
Why don’t you use the existing satellites?
“They are very expensive, between 200 and 300 million euros, and are as big as a truck. Ours have the size of a shoe box and, including the launch, cost less than a million. We will launch two satellites in 2018. The constellation of our satellite network screens the entire surface of the earth at least once a day.”
How do you develop and launch your own satellite?
“The time investment is mainly in getting permission. The UN must agree. Therefore, the Dutch government helped us with audits and licenses. The European Space Agency, ESA, validates the satellite. Then a very expensive travel agency in the form of a broker is needed which literally sells the launch into space. ”
What was the biggest challenge?
“Heavy underestimation is the global aspect. We want to be on the same frequency all over the world and that is a hell of a job. No countries have said ‘no’ to the required UN license, but it may take years before we are actually being present in all countries. ”
When did you know that your idea was viable?
“At the end of last year we found out with ESA that the launch of our own satellite was technically feasible.”
Did the construction and development take a very long time?
“It went very fast. LPGAN is groundbreaking: instead of a technological perspective, we look from a commercial point of view. With my background in the aerospace sector (TU Delft), I know that the dynamics in the sector can be traditional. But it is in the same sector where my graduation project showed that it is possible to send a satellite to the moon in nine months. The establishment of Hiber was a logical next step. We started the LPGAN project in June 2016. ”
Who do you work with?
“Hiber’s core team has fifteen people. Our partners are Netherlands Space Office, Agentschap Telecom, ISIS, Hyperion, RPC Telecommunications and ESA. And of course our investors, including the founders, family and friends who have raised 3.5 million so far.”
What is the distinctive character of LPGAN for you? And what is the revenue model?
“The potential and combination of operating globally and with extremely cheap ‘low power’ hardware. The Indonesian fishermen together pay ten dollars a month. There is one dollar for our subscription. “
Do you have competitors?
“I prefer to think in terms of the complementary. For example, we have signed an agreement with Iridium – the world’s leading mobile satellite communications operator – in which we agree to jointly carry out innovative projects. It is better to strengthen each other than to get in each other’s way. ”
You have won the AIA in the Intelligent Enterprise category. How is your experience with that? What has it brought so far?
“We often receive invitations for similar events. We were recently in the top 50 of PwC, the top 50 of the European Parliament and in the top 10 of the Computable Awards. Participation in the Accenture Innovation Awards has brought us publicity and recognition for our company and brought us into contact with fellow pitchers “
Read the orginal article in Dutch on Emerce