Interview with Sixgill LLC: Next Generation People Flow for the Construction Industry
In the previous blog post, we introduced KONE’s focus on Smart Construction and one of the two collaborations that were delivered in cooperation between KONE and startups. For this entry, we interviewed the members of the Sixgill LLC team about their experience in Combient Foundry’s Venture Client Cycle.
Why did you apply to Combient Foundry’s Venture Client Cycle?
Participation in the Combient Foundry Venture Client Cycle, with global industry leaders such as KONE, was an exciting opportunity for Sixgill. We were strongly encouraged to apply to Foundry by KONE executives with whom we had established relationships and had held meetings to discuss our sensor data services platform.
“We were all struck by the uniqueness of Combient Foundry, as it’s not a typical accelerator,” said Adam Phillips, VP of Business Development for Sixgill. “Solution-specific collaboration directly with a global innovation leader like KONE is a rare opportunity, indeed.”
Have you previously participated in an incubator, accelerator or other startup programs? Did Foundry differ from these?
Combient Foundry was Sixgill’s first experience in what you might call a ‘startup program’. We found the format not only valuable but also enjoyable.
“By working shoulder-to-shoulder with KONE on the development of a real-world proof of concept, we gained great insight into the Smart Construction market and the solutions our platform can deliver,” commented Phillips. “We tackled one of KONE’s problem sets, and have the potential to evolve this proof of concept into a long-term commercial licensing arrangement of our Sense platform.”
Have you previously collaborated with a large company such as KONE? How has working with KONE been?
Sixgill works with multi-national companies, including Samsung, Intel, PTC, AT&T, etc. However, while many of our engagements are collaborative in nature, the consensus among the Sixgill team is that working with KONE was exceptional for hands-on innovation.
“We tested several use cases in a closed lab environment and then rapidly iterated KONE’s use cases and tested on an actual construction site in Malaysia! All KONE stakeholders were engaged and offered key guidance every step of the way,” Adam explains. Sixgill is an agile shop and maintaining this methodology guided our work during the collaboration. For example, weekly sprint reviews kept the team informed of what was going to be built during the coming week.
“This sprint review gave everyone clear visibility to what was going on and what would happen next,” Adam continues. “Additionally, every Friday we held a demo day where we showcased our weekly progress. It was this rapid iteration, open communication and design of a clear value proposition that made our time working together successfully.”
“The thing that strikes me about this engagement is the opportunity for innovation through digital transformation,” said Joey Baloun, Director of Analytics and Visualization for Sixgill. Baloun added, “Collaborating to transform construction operations challenges like these made our work with KONE particularly exciting.”
What has been most positive about the Venture Client Cycle?
For Sixgill, understanding customer pain points and future needs are the cornerstones to successful engagements.
“The ability to work closely with the customer to challenge and validate foundational technology, such as Sixgill’s Sense platform, gave us highly valuable learnings to implement solutions and empower KONE’s Smart Construction initiatives.” Víctor Cañero Morera, Director of Customer Technical Services for Sixgill stated.
“To go from a “laboratory” proof of concept phase to a live site phase 2 in a handful of weeks was terrific,” Joey adds. “The pace of the project, from kick-off onwards, was a great fit for our start-up pace of delivery. Dealing with lengthy enterprise approvals/lead time is a major pain point that was largely absent in this engagement.”
Have you been in contact with other Combient firms? Anything you would like to highlight?
As a result of our participation in Foundry and work with KONE, we are in touch with other Combient firms such as Konecranes, a world-leading group of Lifting Businesses™, serving a broad range of customers, including manufacturing and process industries, shipyards, ports and terminals. We will be providing them with a full debriefing of our Smart Construction POC.
Would you recommend participating in Foundry for other startups? Sixgill’s experience was very positive.
“I would definitely recommend Foundry to other companies,” Adam says. “I feel Foundry’s Venture Client approach is a perfect fit for startups that are slightly later stage [Series A or B] with financial resources, and are ready for market validation of their products with an enterprise customer.”
How does Sixgill’s roadmap look for the upcoming years?
The Sixgill roadmap is focused around three major themes: Innovation on the Edge, Developer Experience, and Open Extensibility.
Innovation on the Edge
Sixgill is taking an innovative, machine learning approach to addressing the demand for distributed processing on edge devices combined with the increasing volume, velocity and variety of data and device types. By providing the tools for developers to train, manage, and update models on the edge, we’re taking the complexity out of deployment and management of IoT-based products so that developers can focus on solving business-side use cases. For example, in a Smart Construction application where workers and tools are being monitored, by deploying machine learning on the edge, an application can learn the normal movement and behavior in these environments and alert supervisors of anomalies. Instead of sending all the raw data up to the cloud for processing, which can be very costly—in time and money, Sixgill can perform the computation on individual edge devices and only send up customers’ most actionable, valuable data.
Far too many products in the IoT market are closed. They can only handle a predetermined set and/or type of data and cannot handle harmonization of data sets across the enterprise, or they provide only a specified set of real-time (or not) processing features. Sixgill’s Sense platform was purpose-built to be data agnostic and extensible, and its evolution will break down functional barriers so that organizations have all the tools they need to build, extend and share the platform for evolving use cases and rapid iteration. In addition, Sixgill plans to release innovative off-the-shelf plugin solutions such as indoor-to-outdoor employee and asset tracking, video analysis with machine learning, and advanced data integrity solutions. This will ultimately reduce time to market for any organization building IoT and sensor dependent applications.
Central to Sixgill’s strategy is a focus on the developer experience. The easier, more efficient, and more delightful Sixgill’s products are to use, the more fully customers will realize their goals. Sixgill maintains an internal KPI to create an experience that takes less than 5 minutes to add new sensor data types to the Sense platform. To serve developers, the roadmap includes a full-featured portal and debugging mobile application, as well as a dashboard for non-technical users to administer and monitor the platform, its incoming data and rule triggering. At Sixgill, we’re humanizing IoT to remove complexities from the process of IoT application development, deployment, collaboration and iteration.
If you want to learn more about Combient Foundry or the business opportunities, do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.