Aconno Startup from Düsseldorf Opens Offices in Zagreb and Osijek

By 4 September 2019

The IoT startup Aconno from Düsseldorf, Germany, opens offices in Zagreb and Osijek.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 3rd of September, 2019, after large and medium-sized technology companies from Germany started to show an interest in Croatia, development departments started to open here as well.

Croatian-German IoT startup Aconno, headquartered in Düsseldorf and working for companies like Vodafone, Bosch, Siemens, SAP, NKT and Deutsche Telekom's T-Systems, has just opened two development offices in Croatia. They will work on developing software and hardware for their IoT (Internet of Things) solutions.

Currently, the startup employs ten employees and initially plans to hire another fifteen IT professionals in both Zagreb and Osijek.

Miroslav Šimudvarac, co-founder and CEO of Aconna, which also runs the Troido software company and organised the largest Android conference in Southeast Europe in Zagreb, Droidcon, says he understands that the job market is under a lot of pressure, but also that they do have some very good experience with developers from Croatia .

“People in Croatia deliver what they say they're going to and their work is of high quality. We would love to be able to hire IT experts in the next few weeks, but we'll be pleased if we can complete the teams by the end of the year,'' says Šimudvarac.

He adds that they have decided to develop their business in Croatia because they want to enter into larger development projects with Zagreb's FER. The faculty sought a much more formal relationship for such cooperation, which included having a company registered in Croatia so that they could engage in larger and more complex projects and deal with it in financially better manner.

"Our cooperation with FER is so good that I can say that it's difficult to find such a partner in Germany in the academic world," says Šimudvarac.

Finally, he says they are considering moving part of the production of IoT devices to move from Germany to Slavonia. Šimudvarac says that it is crucial for them to produce in the EU. He points out that this is not the cheapest option, especially when compared to China.

''But production in the EU, so in Germany and Croatia, is the most optimal when it comes to speed, quality and price, and especially flexibility, because for example in Croatia there are very good craftsmen who can quickly deliver smaller series' of elements that we incorporate into our IoT devices,'' says Šimudvarac.

He states that they have opted for this expansion because Aconno has entered a new development phase. ''After four years of bespoke projects and 1.2 million euros invested in R&D, we have amassed a portfolio of about thirty of our own finished IoT products,” says Šimudvarac.

Aconno is the first commercial user of NB-IoT technology in Croatia. Šimudvarac explains that in April last year, Croatian Telecom (Hrvatski Telekom) launched the first NB-IoT network in Croatia, and Aconno immediately established the first commercial connection for the needs of a R&D project working for one client on that network.

"Because of the NDA contract, I can only say that it is a kind of portable panic button, or alarm. The point is that the user can carry it everywhere, charge it once or twice a year, and in the event of an emergency, can send their exact location to the cloud, or to the Internet, from anywhere, even from their basement or an elevator,'' says Šimudvarac.

He adds that they tested this IoT device in the centre of Zagreb and that it worked flawlessly. Afterwards, he points out, it was also presented in Berlin, where they were able to send a signal even from the Metro, again using NB-IoT.

He states that they use other wireless technologies, such as LoRe, Sigfox, BLE, WiFi, as well as other classic telecom networks used for IoT data transfer, such as 2G and 3G. Both he and his business partner, Thomas Hollwedel, a former Vodafone manager, say a turnaround took place this year in the IoT market.

"We have been on the market for four years, but now we're getting orders for tens of thousands of IoT modules for the first time. We are currently negotiating a deal that, if passed, would mean that we would be delivering 500,000 IoT devices annually at a cost of 30 euros per piece,'' explains Šimudvarac.

He explains that such interest in IoT is not concentrated solely in Germany. Clients, he says, come from other parts of the EU, then from North and South America and Africa. This is also reflected in the business.

''In its second year in business, 2016, Aconno was a plus-size business. In 2017, we had 400,000 euros in revenue, and next year we expect to reach 1 million euros. It's a rough projection because just one client can increase it further,'' says Šimudvarac.

The prerequisite for such growth is, as they interpret, that they have developed their own IoT technology. Aconno was one of two companies in the world to start developing technologies based on Google's IoT concept, and subsequently developed their own IoT software for it.

The software, says Šimudvarac, was put into open source and anyone can freely use it to create their own solutions.

''This is how we work with some twenty universities in the EU and in North America, but also with startups. Once, in just ten days we made a prototype of a smart cube, with which we received an investment of 1.7 million euros,'' concludes Šimudvarac.

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