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Winner (click here to learn more)

Co-Founders Ed Hemphill and Travis McCollum
Austin, Texas

There are many individuals that head up companies, large and small, that have pursued the M2M market with vigor. The 2014 ConnectED winners, WigWag, Co-Founders Ed Hemphill and Travis McCollum, proved to be innovative, persistent, and true to their goal and as a result, they enriched the M2M industry. Typically when we talk about M2M we usually envision an automated environment, one where things take care of themselves and people only have to reap the benefits. Automation has long been held as the goal, but in reality, it is the path to a goal. These two individuals saw their work in automated environments, mostly conference and meeting rooms where customers wanted their equipment to adjust to their needs. Instead, they often ended up with more complicated rooms, not the simpler environment they started seeking.

These automated systems were complex, but used archaic and very difficult to program technology. This led customers to use multiple integrators resulting in quote-solutions-unquote that often turned these environments into even more complex places. There was, our winners knew, the need for simple, flexible, customer-configurable automated systems.

They set out to provide a way for people to create and maintain intelligent environments and automated systems themselves. Their approach was through a unified, common, open software infrastructure, and by providing smart, connected devices and sensors that enable people to make the world around them more dynamic and intelligent.

Using simple, intuitive logic—the “When” [this] happens “Then” do [that] method—it let people build intelligent environments anywhere with Internet-connected sensors and devices by letting them graphically write rules, using an app for iOS or Android. Hand-sized blocks provide eight environmental sensors for humidity, temperature, motion, vibration (accelerometer), light, sound, contact switch, and tripwire.

Their firm also offers four control features: electronic relay (for anything that turns on and off), IR blaster (for anything controlled by remote control), and the sensor’s own sounds and lights. But any technology company needs financial support to bring a new product to market.

A startup has fewer resources, especially in this soft economy. Our winners turned to the 21st Century’s answer: Kickstarter. It chose Kickstarter because early adopters are often found there and these adopters would not only be interested in backing the project, it would provide valuable insight into the features users need. The Kickstarter campaign raised $450,000 and brought in more than 1,500 early adopters. These early adopters not only provided funds to keep the company going, it has proven instrumental in helping it understand the pain points and point out uses the founders hadn’t even considered.