Meet Lemonbeat, the WhatsApp for IoT
The following question has driven – and continues to drive – Lemonbeat to success: What if every machine, no matter whether smart and young or old and dumb, could talk to each other and also to humans? The company has come up with a solution to almost eliminate the “what if”. Its technology – or Internet of Things (IoT) backbone – builds IoT as a seamless experience journey from device to cloud and is interoperable across different industries and use cases. Since its founding in 2015, Lemonbeat has grown from a small team of only 4 people to 31 IoT energy experts, with 1 million+ successfully connected devices, several tech patents and over 30 longstanding B2B customers in the energy sector and beyond.
We caught up with CEO Oliver van der Mond to discuss how and why Lemonbeat is the new WhatsApp for IoT, new trends in the market and the company’s vision for the future.
Can you tell us a bit about what your company does, what problems you solve for your customers, and what you are focusing on at the moment?
Oliver van der Mond: The IoT market is still very project driven which makes every new solution typically a cumbersome project. We try to make IoT a product. For this, we have built a communication infrastructure from the smallest devices (e.g. a sensor) to the cloud which can be reused over many different use cases. This enables rapid prototyping of new ideas, a short time to market and more efficient economics of IoT solutions.
A hot topic for us currently is a new communication standard called Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) which we use in applications with different clients. This is very interesting for the energy industry and goes hand in hand with the future 450Mhz system that the energy industry looks to use. The 450Mhz network, to be built out for critical infrastructure, promises to provide enhanced safety and reliability, including during power outages – a big problem for the energy industry – so that operators can monitor their power assets even when there is no power.
How did you come up with the idea for Lemonbeat?
Oliver van der Mond: Our team has developed, built and operated various IoT solutions in the past. We have seen what works and what doesn’t and what the main obstacles are for new IoT products . Our aim therefore is to help our customers to avoid unnecessary mistakes when building an IoT solution, e.g. underestimating the processes (installation, support, update, etc.) required over the lifetime of the solution. Many companies just focus on making the hardware of an IoT solution as cheap as possible, then ship it to a customer and have nothing to do with it anymore. In many cases, this makes the necessary processes around that cheap hardware more expensive, e.g. when the firmware can no longer be updated. This can easily destroy the business case of an IoT solution. Our IoT solutions always take these points into account to reduce the “total cost of ownership” instead of just the hardware costs.
How accurate is Lemonbeat’s energy monitoring? What benefit does this bring to the consumer or utility provider?
Oliver van der Mond: The energy monitoring systems running on our technology are in the areas of smart grids and buildings. The level of accuracy (in particular how often energy is measured) is as granular as a frequency of seconds up to 15-minute values, which is still the standard in the energy industry. This of course depends on the use case, i.e., what is necessary, commercially and technically feasible.
What sets Lemonbeat apart from other IoT platforms?
Oliver van der Mond: Our focus is on bringing data from the field (sensory and other devices and assets) to the cloud in a secure, reliable and cost-efficient manner. We ensure that the system works properly and the data is collected; we focus less on what is done with the data – the collected data belongs 100% to our customers. Most IoT platforms want to own the data themselves and therefore subsidize the data collection process. But here, like in other parts of the internet, there is the rule: if you don’t pay for the product, you (your data) are the product. This is something energy utilities should be especially aware of.
What is your long-term vision for Lemonbeat?
Oliver van der Mond: Our vision is to solve the complexity of IoT by making IoT a product instead of a project business. This cannot be done overnignt because we need to allow for learning during the journey towards that goal. This is why we are building and shipping sellable products and customer solutions based on our technology stack along the way.
What, in your opinion, is currently the most exciting trend or development in the world of IoT?
Oliver van der Mond: The new communication standard Narrowband IoT enables many applications that have historically been hard to roll out, both technologically and commercially. A lot of new applications will now be made possible, compared to just 2-3 years ago. For example, if you think of meter data in rural areas where technologies like LoRaWAN or former mobile phone standards are difficult to use (no coverage or expensive to establish), Narrowband IoT will give those assets a connection that previously would not have been possible.
What makes Future Energy Ventures different? What value do they bring to the table?
Oliver van der Mond: It is highly beneficial to have access to such a large energy utility like E.ON via Future Energy Ventures. Energy utilities have by nature a large asset base, probably the largest and most spread out of all industries – especially when you think of the grid business. This makes energy utilities the perfect partner for IoT applications like ours. But at the same time, you need people who have an understanding of the pain points in the energy world and of where there are opportunities for applying a technology like Lemonbeat’s. We see this clearly with the team working at FEV and their ties into E.ON.
Future Energy Ventures’ view on Lemonbeat:
We believe Lemonbeat is on track to becoming a leader in the European IoT market, particularly for energy-related use cases, given the team’s extensive experience and connections within the industry. Lemonbeat team is what makes the company special: it is fully customer driven and constantly focusing on the scalability of IoT solutions, not only within a specific project, but across various customers and use cases. Lemonbeat accompanies its customers in all aspects of a mass IoT deployment, managing complexity through its well designed software architecture that is compatible with all major connectivity solutions.