How a sleepy engineer triggered Sony to launch and crowdfund an IoT corporate-startup
Corporate Startup Story of the Week
Adding a self-watering plant to your garden or creating your own automated light system might sound like a couple of intricate DIY projects. But with the help of MESH, building your own custom smart home becomes much easier.
MESH is a Sony corporate startup that sells a range of colored blocks equipped with different sensors and wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). This probably sounds very complicated, but the idea behind it is actually quite simple.
Each block is enabled to detect different conditions like movement, brightness, and humidity. These can then be programmed in the MESH app and attached to any everyday object.
For example, if you want to send an email to yourself every time a letter falls into your physical mailbox, you can easily build this using MESH. Just add a motion detection block to your letterbox and use the app to visually program your actions. Some of their example projects include self-watering plants and remotely controlled cameras.
“Anyone should be able to become an inventor. We want to enable people to do in two minutes what used to take two weeks, or wasn’t possible at all.”
– Takehiro Hagiwara, the Sony engineer who invented and founded MESH
Takehiro Hagiwara, an engineer at Sony, used to have troubles waking up in the morning. So, like any real engineer, he decided to build a custom alarm clock. He wanted to create a system where the alarm would only stop ringing after he got up and closed the bathroom door. But this process was more difficult than he expected, which drove him to the idea of designing a modular DIY-system that would transform any non-smart object into a connected device. Sony took interest in the concept and gave him the space to build it into a full-fledged venture. Eventually, MESH raised more than $60,000 on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and became a whole separate project within Sony.
This wasn’t Sony’s first time in the startup world. Since debuting their internal accelerator program, they have launched several corporate startups like the FES e-paper smartwatch and the Qrio smart lock, both of which were also crowdfunded.
But why does a corporation that makes billions in revenue need to crowdfund their projects? It turns out crowdfunding is the perfect medium to gauge the market.
“Fundraising is not the point here. Crowdfunding helps us to collect feedback from early adopters and users before products go on the market.”
– Sony spokesperson
Since then MESH has skyrocketed. They overshot their crowdfunding target by 120%, and are now shipping their kits worldwide and empowering users to connect their devices to gadgets like WeMo, Nest, Amazon Echo, and to apps like Gmail and Twitter. So, if you want to make your home smarter these holidays, MESH might be the perfect fit.