Hey fellow digital warriors and developers! Startup Radius interviewed Sqira – a platform that allows anyone, from developers and manufacturers to homeowners, to launch their own IoT solution without coding and even server setup. How awesome is that?
Read below to learn how a small team of few people built the business from scratch, how big the IoT industry really is, why community marketing matters (especially Reddit and Product Hunt), how they do it without any 3rd party funding and more. Enjoy!
Can you tell us about what you are working on? What is Sqira?
Sqira is a free central automation hub for IoT devices. With Sqira, users can explore IoT project ideas and control any ecosystem through one single dashboard. The user only needs to connect the IoT device to Sqira and the system will intuitively do the rest. With Sqira you can connect IoT-controlled devices without the need to understand how to write Arduino code or the need to set up a server.
Why are you building this? Was there a particular source of inspiration or money-making idea?
We saw the huge growth potential in the IoT industry and we wanted to educate the end user that it is possible to build your own application easily using our IoT platform. We also wanted our platform to take away the main barriers of using IoT technologies such as writing machine code or setting up a server.
Sounds great! How big is your niche?
According to Forbes Insight and Hitachi Vantara research, IoT technology is predicted to have a high impact on many industries and the economics in general. Gartner also predicts that the IoT-devices universe will reach US$14.2 Billion in 2019 and US$25 billion in 2022. Cisco has forecasted IoT will increase its company’s revenue by 21% in 2022.
Who are your main competitors, and how good/bad they are?
The main competitor is Ewelink, one of the applications can control IoT devices. Ewelink is a product of Sonoff. Currently, Ewelink only can manage smart home devices, even though many companies use IoT to help their businesses.
Who uses Sqira? What is your perfect buyer persona?
- Manufacturer – IoT can increase the product quality and help a manufacturer analyze the quality of produced goods. Sqira can send and receive the data in real-time, and I think Sqira will be able to control production machines quite soon.
- Developers and makers – Devs and makers can quickly and effortlessly build products with Sqira because they can bypass the step of writing codes, designing the control panel and setting up the server.
- Homeowner – The last, but not least are homeowners. Sqira is an affordable solution for homeowners to turn their homes into smart homes with ease.
Were there any early ‘growth hacks’ or tactics that have contributed to your current success?
For now, our focus is introducing Sqira to local IoT communities in Indonesia through forums like Reddit. We offer a free plan to give makers a chance to try out our platform and we hope they will upgrade to a paid plan later. We have also made agreements to collaborate with inventors of IoT-devices to provide them with our platform for server and management control. Within one year, we have a target to have 1000 registered users on the paid plan.
What were some of the biggest challenges while building Sqira early on and how did you solve them?
We have faced many challenges. Two of the biggest challenges have been:
- A small development team. We only have two developers and one designer which has meant that we have developed at a slower pace than we would like. Especially, given that we need to conduct research to create AI to generate the code for various micro-controllers. This is why we only support ESP8266 in the beta version. For the final release, we have a target to support at least 5 micro-controllers including Arduino Uno.
- Lack of funding. All Sqira development costs have been funded by the founders. We need resources to be able to integrate a controller and have not yet started developing our own micro-controller and devices.
Which marketing channels you prefer and why?
- Join the IoT Community – We don’t have an advertising budget so we introduced Sqira to the enthusiasts and developers by joining the IoT community. At certain events, we may offer the community an interesting discount, for example, a free month.
- Collaboration and partnerships – Many companies already have an established presence on the market, so we offer our service with some deal to help with server-side and writing codes to reduce the cost of their product without downgrading the quality.
- Social media – Social media really give us a lot of traffic especially the Product Hunt and Reddit.
Is Sqira monetized? Why did you choose the current monetization method?
Yes, Sqira is monetized as a SaaS – we have a regular monthly subscription, which is an affordable package. In addition to that we have custom pricing for our Enterprise packages.
What are the top products/services you use in your company and why do you like them?
- AWS– Well, no need to explain here, AWS is the best server any startup can get.
- Laravel – We use laravel because this framework is one of the top PHP frameworks on the market.
- Github – This platform really helps with developing our application.