When I was at primary school, we used to make puzzles by making a picture on a piece of plywood. Then we would take a jigsaw and create the pieces that form the puzzle. Of course, I tried to make the puzzle as complicated as possible and give my family and friends a hard time in solving it. Nevertheless, in the end, everybody managed to solve the puzzle.
What helped were two things: they knew how the picture on the puzzle should look like and they knew that it was feasible, so they didn’t give up. I am now of an age that I have kids myself who are attending primary school. But I still have a puzzle of my own called the company Olisto.
A startup is one big puzzle itself. You need to develop the right
product, find the right market, create the right team and all this
happens at the same time. This puzzle is not always an easy thing to
solve. We make products and services work together via our cloud-based
rule engine, so I find myself involved in conversations with a broad
range of companies: utilities, retailers, banks, device manufacturers,
telcos and many more.
Sometimes we immediately see how we can work together. There are moments when there is a lot of enthusiasm from both sides and a personal click, but we just can’t find a way how to take it to the next step. The meetings stop and all effort seems to have been no more than a “learning experience”. I deliberately wrote seems. Because the output of these discontinued conversations often proofs to be very valuable in the long run. Let me give you an example.
Smart smoke detector
We were in contact with the people behind the successful payment app Tikkie but we couldn’t find an appealing use case. At CES 2018 we came in contact with the largest Dutch telco KPN and we tried for months to find a mutually beneficial way to work together but found ourselves not doing so yet. On top of that we had ongoing conversations with the online retailer of smart products 50Five, who investigated a partnership with us to sell relevant use cases instead of mere product features.
It seemed like we were right on our way to having another three learning experiences…
Until KPN suggested to combine their SMS service with the Tikkie payment services. Together with our Olisto platform, we could send out payment requests initiated by the smart devices we already connect to our platform. When 50Five asked us to come up with relevant use cases within the security domain, it immediately made us think of the use case my partner Arjen was advocating for years: the smart smoke detector which automatically orders its replacement batteries.
Suddenly the previous conversations and activities with these different companies made a lot of sense. We had already created an integration with the KPN SMS platform, we had already examined the integration with Tikkie and we already connected the Nest Protect smoke detector to our Olisto platform. Now, we had a customer asking us to combine all of this. Without any development effort needed at the side from our partners we were able to quickly realize this new innovative use case.
When I am involved in talks and activities with various companies, and I have no clue where we will end up, I still see this as something positive. As long as both sides feel that there must be some way to enhance each other, we will do so in the end. What we actually do during these exercises is to create new puzzle pieces. The difference with the jigsaw puzzle of my primary school is that nobody knows how the end picture will look like. And nobody knows whether it is feasible. But as we create more and more puzzle pieces with more and more companies, the chance that some of them will fit together to create a splendid new picture is inevitable.