It took us nearly two years to build our first IoT product – Raqib. Mainly because we have so many things to do, and we are very new to this kind of IoT entrepreneurship.
Since Raqib is an end-to-end solution, we need to identify the partner for the hardware since we can’t build the wearable in-house. Furthermore, the devices need to send data and connect to our IoT platform, create a mobile app, and develop a CRM system.
In 2018, we started with a simple trial, and later in 2019, we were able to have our first few customers using the solution during their trip to Hajj.
As per the second IoT product, Favorsense, we built it within a year and quickly introduced it to the market. We received a lot of feedback which we used to improve the solution.
But then, we also realized that we already had our third IoT product, i.e., the IoT middleware itself, while building the rest of the ioT products. Still, we never thought of offering this solution to others. We have begun to get user feedback by allowing users to use it for free until we started charging them in March 2019.
The Problem Statement
When we built our first IoT product, we learned that it is such a massive effort and takes a lot of resources – time and money. The same goes for our second product.
We decided if somehow we could collaborate with others to develop other IoT solutions by using our platform. We thought that the country had many IoT talents ready to build its IoT solutions, and we were wrong!
There are not many takers who can jump straight into the IoT world and build their IoT products. That’s when I realized the country is lacking this kind of talent? Where are they?
I am fortunate to be in many local Universities as their Industrial Advisory Panel or Adjunct Professors. That’s when we realized many of the current syllabi did not cover structured content about IoT. However, many universities are excited to get their students to select the IoT as their Final Year Projects (FYP). Still, unfortunately, many of the students have to learn on their own.
In the industry, they have started to get more interested in how IoT impacts their business but are unsure how to build or deploy their innovative solutions using IoT.
Even the whole ecosystem of IoT in Malaysia is not very strong because there are not many players as yet.
For Favoriot, we see this as an opportunity because our IoT platform can become the enabler to learn IoT and be used in commercial IoT deployment.
How Big is the Market
According to Mordor Intelligence, the IoT market reached $761.4 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $1.39 trillion by 2026.
There are four (4) components in building end-to-end IoT solutions – Sensors, Connectivity, IoT platforms, and Applications. We have touched a sweet spot, i.e., to become a preferred IoT platform for any IoT deployments.
IoT was “officially” introduced in Malaysia in 2014 when the Nation launched its National IoT Strategic Framework. However, it seems to be early days, and it took some time to make people aware of its impact. However, IoT got another “jump-start” when Malaysia Industry 4WRD -National Policy on Industry 4.0 at the end of 2018.
In 2020, the world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and many industries were affected by the lockdown—the idea of using emerging technologies to solve social distancing issues. Thus, the time for the IoT market to grow is about to begin.
The IoT Solution
The reasons why we want to offer our IoT platform as the third IoT product are as follows:
- In every IoT deployment or project, there will be an IoT platform component. The idea is to deploy IoT solutions without involving high cost by using a Cloud-based IoT platform.
- We are not able to build and customize to all user requirements.
- We want to create a platform where the students can also use in their IoT projects.
- This platform also can be used for Laboratory experiments.
- Thus, the platform needs to be open and easily used with user-friendly APIs
- The middleware comprises security, business rules, and notification engine and supports various protocols such as MQTT, CoAP, and REST.
- Offer this as Platform-as-a-Service to allow as many users to subscribe to the platform and create their own innovative IoT applications easily while maintaining the ownership of their data.
- Have the ability to charge the user in various subscription Plans such as Free, Beginner, and Developer Plans. Furthermore, we can also have a customized package and make it available on-premise.
- Build a Generation-IoT (Favoriot) community that can share and learn each other’s projects and success stories.
- Complete documentation, tutorials, GitHub, and forums are made available.
Initially, we started offering the free package to the Universities in early 2019; we noticed not many active users. Many of them use other competitive platforms such as ThingSpeak, ThingsBoard, or Blynk.
We realized that due to the unfamiliarity of the Favoriot platform and not many tutorials regarding the usage, we decided to compile as many use-cases, step-by=step tutorials made by some community members and upload them to our Favoriot YouTube channel.
I take the opportunity to introduce the Favoriot IoT platform in many of the invited talks, conferences, or webinars. Coupled with contests and special offers and bundled with training packages, we have reached more than 115 countries worldwide and more than 5300 users.
We started with users subscribing to the platform themselves, but now we have begun engaging with corporate users by having customized solutions.
The Growth Point
We have reached a stage whereby talents who graduated from the Universities are equipped with the knowledge of building IoT projects (and using the Favoriot IoT platform) more structured.
These new talents will become the catalyst for the growth of IoT in Malaysia and other countries around the world.
The IoT Adventure has become more enjoyable than ever!