Intelligent machines

| Print |  Email
Articles - January 2014
Monday, December 09, 2013

BY LINDA BAKER

0114 FOB Launch
Smart Mocha CEO Surj Patel
// Photo by Jason Kaplan

Surj Patel has made a career out of bringing people, places and things online. Born in Kenya and raised in England, Patel helped launch the BBC’s first website in 1994. As a grad student at MIT’s Media Lab, he experimented with hooking up physical objects to the Internet. “What happens? You can tell the temperature in Spain; watch a coffee pot in Cambridge.” Now Patel, 43, is applying his engineering prowess to Smart Mocha, a startup that aims to “democratize” the fast-growing field of machine-to-machine technology. Existing “M2M” solutions — in which objects are embedded with sensors, then linked online for remote communications — typically require multiple purchases and integration services from different vendors. Smart Mocha rolls these complicated and costly processes into a package deal: Customers merely affix sensors and a base station, then pick up the data on a secured website, all for one monthly fee. “Companies don’t want to manage a huge chain of infrastructure,” says Patel. “We take the pain out of it.” Patel and his two co-founders are finishing up pilot projects in different industry sectors, including vineyards, where sensors monitor water conditions, and grocery store HVAC systems. The team is also seeking a $1 million angel round. “It’s very hard; we’re web guys going into the industrial market. That’s stodgy, not sexy.” But Patel is confident Smart Mocha is riding the wave of the next web revolution: Creating sensor networks for industry is a $200 billion global market, he says. Even that is the tip of the iceberg. “The ‘Internet of things’ drops the power of data gathering to nothing. We’re interested in interpreting that data. There will be an ecosystem coming.”

Company: Smart Mocha 

Product: Sensor networks 

CEO: Surj Patel 

Headquarters: Portland

Launched: 2013

Origin story: Co-founder Steve Osborn came up with the company name after his wife handed him a mocha: a “satisfying blend of ingredients” — just like the product was supposed to be, Patel recounts. The original name was Glados, “an overbearing, artificial intelligence overlord that enslaved humans from a sci-fi novel. But we dropped that. I felt it was not a good brand transfer for what we wanted to do.”

Open source: “Around Christmas last year, I organized a Meetup group called ‘Thing Tuesday.’ This one gets regularly over 80 people. Some were able to feed back on ideas as we modulated them. One sits on our customer advisory panel. So we are very grateful to the community in shaping our company.”

 

More Articles

Streetfight

News
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.


Read more...

See How They Run

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Tortoise and the Hare

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015

The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average. 


Read more...

Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


Read more...

Raising the Stakes

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

The 2014 Bend Venture Conference set a record for the most cash, investments and prizes awarded at an angel conference in the Pacific Northwest. Investments in the six winning companies exceeded $1 million. The 11th annual conference was hosted by Economic Development of Central Oregon.


Read more...

Ski traffic

News
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
0121-skiway-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A place-based multimodal transportation plan for Mt. Hood is long overdue.


Read more...

Light Moves

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Fittingly, Light at Play — a business whose sole purpose is to create mesmerizing ambience — was conceived at Burning Man.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS