Could the Internet of Things Be the Biggest Market Ever?

A recent study by McKinsey & Company says the Internet of Things (IoT) could be an $11 trillion sector by 2025.

To put that in perspective, total U.S. GDP was $17 trillion in 2014.

Almost anything that involves remote wireless and making devices “smart” can be considered to be IoT.

And while IoT has been hyped for a while, it’s finally coming into its own today due to new technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) and cheap, advanced wireless gear.

New billion-dollar businesses will be spawned in the next few years, and everybody’s eager to get a piece of them in early financing rounds.

So IoT is a space that everyone’s watching. And as you’ll read in the interview below, it’s a big broad category of tech that’s full of opportunity.

My Interview With an IoT Expert

Earlier this week, I talked to the founders of an IoT startup called Pairable. I was impressed by their IoT product. It’s a system to track your physical things with your phone, and it has some key features that the competition lacks.

As we talked, Asheem Aggarwal, the CEO, demonstrated deep knowledge about the space. And he was kind enough to agree to an interview about IoT. It’s full of valuable tidbits for investors interested in this space. Enjoy.

Q: How is IoT being used today?

A: For the average person, IoT is a mysterious acronym. Meanwhile, the leading technology companies are preparing themselves for the largest tech boom since the mobile Internet.

Early IoT services hitting the market are mostly in connected home segments such as light bulbs, switches and locks. Here customers want to be able to remotely access and control these devices just as they are accustomed to doing with their television sets.

Other forms of IoT include fitness and activity trackers, which already claim U.S. adoption of one out of every five people. Companies such as Automatic and Dash are bringing cars up to speed with mobile apps by enabling access to auto diagnostics and usage statistics.

This is just the beginning, and in just a few years most people will be using IoT. It’s unavoidable and inevitable that our physical world becomes part of our digital lifestyle. IoT is all about doing this and will connect the offline world to the Internet faster than most realize.

Q: How do you see it being used in the future?

A: We are seeing the very beginnings of IoT, just like the early days of mobile phones. Tomorrow’s IoT will be so sophisticated that you will interact with your physical surroundings without having to pick up your phone. Things are going to get a lot more seamless with much less punching in URLs for websites and opening of apps.

Your surroundings and proximity to things will create context and your phone will do the rest automatically – all while saving time, money and aggravation.

How nice will it be to check into a flight without even telling the agent your name or even having to swipe your passport or credit card for verification? Your personal belongings will become a lot smarter and will be able to warn you before you leave them behind at the local cafe. It is very likely you can walk right up to a bus stop and have it tell your phone when the next buses are arriving and where they are going.

Household items such as umbrellas, bags, clothing, outdoor gear and children’s items – to name just a few things – will all have the power to communicate to the net. This will provide proximity, usage statistics, remote access, sensor data and much more we have yet to imagine.

Q: How big can this market get?

A: In a word, massive.

Tech giants such as Cisco and Salesforce are predicting between 50 billion and 75 billion connected devices by 2020. These numbers could be even bigger with an estimated 1.5 trillion physical objects connecting across the globe.

In the next 20 years, “every physical item will have a chip implanted in it,” according to Marc Andreessen, the prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

Q: What’s your elevator pitch for Pairable?EI_pairable-1

A: Pairable is the personal IoT system for your physical world and is positioned to be the “Google Maps” for your most important things. Just attach our tags to your most important items and the Pairable app will track and manage them instantly.

Q: Have you thought of raising money via equity crowdfunding?

A: We have previously closed $370,000 in funding. We currently have a round open on CircleUp, where we have raised $115,000 and still have $385,000 available. We are exploring doing a Title III round also and will proceed to a Series A this year.

Hear that, ladies and gents? Pairable is considering doing an equity crowdfunding round. I’ll let you know if it does. As a reminder, Title III (ECF) deals go live May 16.

For now, you can look at Pairable’s current funding round on CircleUp. It’s a convertible note at a $5 million “capped” valuation. Only accredited investors can buy (for now).

Thanks to Asheem for taking the time.

Good investing,

Adam Sharp
Founder, Early Investing

About Asheem Aggarwal

Asheem is a seasoned entrepreneur and senior executive with a track record in launching and running technology and service startups. He has been personally responsible for P&Ls with over $1 billion in combined revenues and has directed highly complex software projects. He brings to Pairable 23 years of management experience. Asheem’s deep technology and engineering background provides the platform for him and his team at Pairable to design, develop and bring to market best-in-class IoT devices and mobile apps.

Asheem co-founded Urban Wireless Inc., the nation’s first PCS spectrum MVNO for prepaid wireless service. In 1999, he was the recipient of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in New York.