Home Back Issues January 2014 Intelligent machines

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

Tight and Loose

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS

As schools implement more rigorous academic standards, holistic and flexible approaches to K-12 education flourish.


Read more...

The Backstory

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

In our cover story this month, Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, discuss their rapidly growing businesses and Portland’s red hot food scene. The conversation provides an interesting lens through which to explore trends in the grocery store and restaurant sectors.


Read more...

Poll Wrap-Up

News
Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 NewPoll-report-newsletterthumbIn this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.


Read more...

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...

Launch

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

October's Launch article features Soul Kitchen, Easy Company and Slick's Big Time BBQ.


Read more...

Two sides of the coin

Contributed Blogs
Monday, August 25, 2014
0825 thumb moneyBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.


Read more...

College Conundrum

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

University and college tuition fees have been rising for more than a decade, while state funds for higher education have steadily declined.


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