Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by LaunchKC but independently produced by Startland News.
As Kansas City becomes a hotbed for smart city tech, one local startup is providing a spine for streamlined communication among the devices cities will leverage.
Kansas City-based Big Bang’s Internet of Things software aims to work as the “central nervous system” for smart city and other Internet-connected devices, said CEO Jonathan Wagner.
Wagner and his co-founder Jason von Nieda launched Big Bang in 2014 to make connected devices smoothly — and quickly — communicate.
“The industry is growing, and we are seeing huge opportunities for growth in a variety of markets, such as smart cities, manufacturing, transportation and energy.” – Jonathan Wagner
The cloud services platform helps developers create applications that communicate with IoT devices in real-time by connecting with their hardware and providing the software to enable its integration. The solution, which eliminates the need for servers or other infrastructure, is available for Android and iOS developers.
A recent winner of the LauchKC grants competition during Techweek Kansas City, Big Bang is addressing a huge, growing market with its development kit. More that 8 billion existing “things” — phones, watches and cars — are connected. That number, however, is expected to reach more than 50 billion connected devices within five years.
That means way more gadgets, gizmos and doohickeys than just everyday devices. Many new industries are identifying use cases, which should help Wagner’s firm.
“A majority of our clients already have an existing product that they want to turn into a connected product,” Wagner said. “The industry is growing, and we are seeing huge opportunities for growth in a variety of markets, such as smart cities, manufacturing, transportation and energy.”
Wagner said that Big Bang’s recent traction with LaunchKC offers it solid momentum. While the $50,000 grant isn’t a huge amount of capital, it will go a long way toward establishing early traction for the small firm, Wagner said.
“We are very humbled and appreciative to be picked,” he said directly after winning the grant. “Techweek and LaunchKC are such great things for the growth of our city. Of course the money is fantastic, it also gave us visibility.”
To help capitalize on the growing IoT market, Big Bang co-founder Jason von Nieda is moving from Seattle back to Kansas City. Nieda and his wife vacationed in Kansas City this summer and were “blown away” by the development of the city since he last lived there in the early 2000s, he said.
“The city seems to have really grown up,” Nieda said. “When we moved away, I would have described the city as a ghost town. There weren’t people living and working downtown, it was mostly just office workers who would clear out immediately at 5 o’clock. We were shocked to see what a difference the Sprint Center, Power & Light, the streetcar and everything else have made, and it’s been pretty exciting to kind of be dumped right into all the action now that we’re back.”
Wagner said he hopes that the duo’s increased proximity will allow Big Bang to accelerate.
With Wagner’s emphasis on software and Nieda’s love of hardware, the pair plans to seek investors and possibly add another person to the Big Bang team.
Over the next 12 weeks, Big Bang will be working with the city as an innovation partner to develop smart city applications. Kansas City’s Innovation Partnership Program selects promising startups to develop, test and demonstrate innovative solutions for the city.
Kansas City is different from other cities with its access to such opportunities, Wagner said. He added that he is thankful that Kansas City is willing to try out new technology and that ultimately, this will benefit the area’s quality of life.
“There is a good opportunity to check out the smart city space, which is more difficult for most small companies to access,” he said. “We’re really excited to get to work with the city and make something that will hopefully be helpful for Kansas Citians.”