iBeacon Raises Stakes: Kontakt.io Takes Investment

We’ve long been fans of Kontakt.io.

The company, which was one of the early entrants into the (now crowded) field of Bluetooth Low Energy beacons has displayed a solid approach to technology that avoided flash and dazzle for good old solid coding and services.

While their earliest beacons weren’t anything fancy, the company kept improving, took an engineering-focused approach to its back-end cloud services and just kept plugging away.

The Sunstone Advantage

Now Sunstone Capital has recognized their early advantage and the power of the Kontakt.io team, making a $2M investment in the Polish company.

They not only get the cash infusion, but also bring Dr. Max Niederhofer, General Partner at Sunstone Capital, on as a member of their board of directors.

We’ve been lucky enough to connect with Max, and his thinking and understanding of the emerging ‘becosystem’ is impressive. Kontakt.io has scored a coup, in our books, in working with someone who has taken a deep view of where the beacon industry is headed.

In the press release announcing the deal, Niederhofer says that ” “Bluetooth Low Energy and iBeacon are the building blocks of the next wave of computing. Notifications and event triggers based on proximity have the potential to revolutionize mobile applications. We conducted a comprehensive review of all vendors in the space. Kontakt.io had by far the most compelling vision, on top of an incredibly advanced operations management, stable supply chain and a phenomenal customer base. We’re very excited to be supporting the team.”

A Crowded Field

It’s becoming an increasingly crowded field. Clients have shifted from trying to understand what a beacon is to asking specific questions about Chinese suppliers of low-cost beacons. But increasingly, customers are understanding that it isn’t the beacon itself that counts, it’s the firmware, cloud support and fleet management that can make the difference between beacons as toys and beacons as enterprise-grade technology.

New market entrants will need to do more than just put a new plastic wrapper around a Chinese-manufactured Nordic-imitation chip set (which is what a lot of the latest companies seem to be doing). Instead, they’ll need to get up to parity with companies like Kontakt which now has the cash coffer to extend its early advantage into a new suite of devices and services.

There are interesting times ahead and Kontakt won’t be the first to take on a substantial investment round. Our discussions with a number of key VCs (who have reached out to us for insight into what’s next) clearly indicate that there’s a deal pipeline in play, and that the Sunstone investment will be one of many into a rapidly expanding becosystem.

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