STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: You gotta get yourself connected | Kansas City

Jonathan Wagner, FOUNDER/CEO, BIG BANG, contributor

By September 14, 2017, 2:08 pm EDT

    From smart homes to smart cars, in the modern day, we’re surrounded by the Internet of Things. Connecting the hardware we engage with on a daily basis promises great advantages, but keeping the information flowing and secure is a challenge. Big Bang, based in Kansas City, helps companies connect or create connected devices. Founder and CEO, Jonathan Wagner, sat down with Techweek’s Prab Kumar to share more about his company and the state of IoT today.

    • Prab: Tell us a little about your company today.

      Jonathan: We help small and medium companies create connected devices. We provide them with a cloud service that makes the process simple and secure. We also help some customers with design and manufacturing.

    • Prab: What is the hair on fire problem you address?

      Jonathan: So many companies have existing products that are literally plugged into tremendous sources of valuable information. Tragically most of these devices are not smart or connected and the information is hidden from view. We help them unlock this information.

    • Prab: How did you discover this problem and why did you tackle it?

      Jonathan: Initially this was a problem we uncovered based on our experience in mobile gaming technology. Smaller teams would be working on applications, but they tended to lack experience with things like networking or hosting servers. The same thing is happening with connected devices.

    • Prab: What’s the size of the problem? How big is this industry?

      Jonathan: The near term prediction is something like 50-200 billion devices in the next five years. This is several orders of magnitude larger than the personal computing or mobile revolution.

    • Prab: What are the important trends that will shake up this industry? What will the industry look like in 5 or 10 years?

      Jonathan: I believe the trend will be toward increasing specialization. The vertical markets we have identified today will probably seem comically broad in ten years. Everyone’s business is very complex when you get past the surface.

    • Prab: How crowded is the space? What’s your competitive advantage behind your product or service that you believe makes it a winner?

      Jonathan: Our focus is on real-time communication which is critical for the success of many connected devices. For example, your smart or self-driving car needs to communicate with lots of other devices to provide you with a smooth and safe trip. That needs to happen now, not ten seconds from now.

    • Prab: Who are your customers and how do you make money?

      Jonathan: We work mainly with small and medium size companies. They may be creating a device, or augmenting an existing device. We provide them with our cloud service, and assist them on the hardware side, including assistance with design and manufacturing.

    • Prab: How do you attract customers, and how well has it gone? How did you acquire your first customer?

      Jonathan: Our first customer was The Mozilla Foundation. We worked with them to create a connected robotics device based on LEGO Mindstorms that are used for STEM education. They are a lot of fun, and they bring programming and connected devices to K-12 students in a package that is accessible and creative.

    • Prab: Tell us about you – why are you the perfect CEO for this company?

      Jonathan: I’m always working on cultivating the correct blend of radical optimism and patience.

    • Prab: How many people are employed by you today? Are you hiring – if so who should apply?

      Jonathan: Two employees currently.

    • Prab: Coo! Let us know when you’re looking for more. Three words to describe the company culture?

      Jonathan: Make it simple.

    • Prab: Beautifully said. What would be your company’s mascot?

      Jonathan: A monkeychicken. Just because I have one on my desk.