19 Dec 2017 | 11.33 am
Wia Cloud Platform For The Internet of Things
The Dublin-based startup makes it easier for developers to create IoT applications
19 Dec 2017 | 11.33 am
Conall Laverty (pictured) is on a mission to enable devices to communicate with one another in a simple, easy way. His startup, Wia, provides software developers with a cloud platform for building Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Instead of having to write reams of code to effect the connection, Wia’s platform simplifies the process.
Essentially Wia provides the socket into which virtually any device can be plugged for IoT connectivity. “Wia stands for ‘Who I Am, Where I Am, and What I’m At’. We’re totally agnostic from hardware or connectivity. If it can connect to the internet, it can connect to Wia,” Laverty explains.
Laverty (28) graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a Master’s in computer games development. He joined creative technology agency Big Motive, developing web services, app and games for clients such as the BBC and National Trust. He left that company and set up his own consultancy venture, Woogie, helping businesses build out MVPs and prototypes.
The idea for Wia emerged after Laverty had his bike stolen. “I tried to come up with a solution that would enable a tracking capability. After building lots of prototypes, I realised the part I was spending most time on was the backend infrastructure. I then decided to focus on just this part, to enable developers with all levels of programming experience to join in the IoT revolution,” he recalls.
Laverty initially established Wia in Belfast, and moved to the NDRC in Dublin after securing a place on its Launchpad programme. On the business-to-consumer side, he lets developers from more than 85 countries use the Wia platform for free.
“On the B2B side, we work closely with startups creating their businesses and products. Next year, we’ll have a fully-fledged enterprise version that can sit in any cloud.” Companies are charged €59 per month to get up to 250 devices connected through Wia.
Employing six people, Wia has attracted interest from investors. The company has raised more than €1m in equity capital, including €750,000 in seed funding in August 2017. That round was led by Waterford venture capital firm Suir Valley Ventures, with Enterprise Ireland and NDRC also among the investors.
“Being a solo founder, it’s great having people who’ve been there and done it become involved as a sounding board for strategizing,” says Laverty. “They also come with a huge network that helps the company grow into areas we may have found difficult to reach on our own.”
Assessing general IoT awareness in Ireland, Laverty believes the phrase is confusing. “The first thing people think of is smart fridges. I think once IoT is boiled down to the verticals – logistics, agriculture, health — people really start to understand what it’s all about.”
When it comes to running his startup, Laverty says he needs to be able to change mindsets quickly. “The challenge for me is going from a product mindset to a company mindset. To ensure I’m spending my time wisely, I use a multi-coloured calendar. In a glance I can see how evenly distributed I am.”
Laverty has mixed views on the Key Employee Engagement Programme share option incentive introduced in Budget 2018. Under KEEP, gains from share options will be taxed when they are exercised, not when they are allotted. “Though it’s an improvement, the share option scheme could be more attractive, especially when we see how much growth is happening in the technology sector here.”