Start Garden, the early-stage venture capital fund in Grand Rapids that was founded by Rick DeVos, is now investing in startups companies. In partnership with some of the biggest companies on the west side of the state, Start Garden is investing in one of the most demanding technologies that is happening right now. Yup, it is Internet of Things.
Start Garden and its partners — Steelcase Inc., Amway, Faurecia SA, Meijer Inc., Spectrum Health and Priority Health — have formed something they are billing as the Seamless Coalition and Accelerator, where entrepreneurs can create companies to carve out profitable niches in Internet of Things.
Estimates for how big IoT will become vary dramatically. GE estimates it will add $10 trillion to $15 trillion to the world economy over the next 20 years. IDC says it will be a $7.1 trillion market in 2020. Cisco Systems Inc. says what it calls the Internet of Everything will add $19 trillion in economic value in the year 2020, alone. Gartner Inc. estimates that Internet of Things product and service suppliers will generate revenue of more than $300 billion in 2020.
“This is the largest growth in the history of humans,” said Janus Bryzek, a vice president at Fairchild Semiconductor who is known as the “father of sensors.”
Pricewaterhouse Coopers said in a recent study that one in six businesses is planning to roll out an Internet of Things product. Start Garden hopes to nurture some of the smallest and newest of the next generation of those companies. The Seamless Accelerator program will provide startups with mentoring, capital and, more importantly, potential large customers.
“As soon as a startup adds building physical things to building digital things, it takes a step into a very different world of facilities, global supply chains and market channel relationships,” said Jim Keane, CEO of Steelcase, in a news release Thursday announcing the Start Garden project.
“A successful ecosystem is not just made of entrepreneurs and investors, but made of people at established companies who want the creation of new value that startups do best. Grand Rapids is uniquely prepared for Seamless because of our deeply interconnected enterprises,” DeVos said.