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Andy Hobsbawm is the co-founder of award-winning environmental movement Do the Green Thing and Internet of Things software start-up Evrythng.

He will be presenting on our Future of Digital Marketing event in London on June 15. 

I've been asking Andy Hobsbawm and co-founder Niall Murphy about the start-up...

In one sentence, what is Evrythng?

Evrythng is a new service that creates active digital identities for products and other objects, with the tools and online environment to share and manage real-time information about these things.

What problems does Evrythng solve?

Evrythng helps organise the world’s objects with an active digital identity for every thing.

To understand this as a solution to a problem, it helps to understand the world we see emerging. There’s a real-time ‘internet of things’ starting to happen as millions of objects are becoming connected and connectable.

We envision a world where individual objects from supply chain components and personal possessions to trains, buildings and paintings each have unique digital identities with an active online presence.

These can then become part of the real-time social flow of conversation and community online and trigger a new wave of real-time apps and services based on the physical objects around us.

To solve the problem of how to do all this, Evrythng has created a go-to engine for applications, services and analytics built around the active digital identities of connected physical things.

When and why did you launch it?

We started the company together about a year and a half ago and have been quietly building technology and engaging with key stakeholders in the emerging market of connected things. We’d been talking about this a few years before that (it’s something that had been on Niall’s mind for a while, since he co-founded Wi-Fi company The Cloud in 2003).

We both felt strongly that the internet will inevitably include billions of objects sharing dynamic information about themselves in real-time.

It seemed clear to us that some kind of transactional economy would emerge around this exchange of object information and that there needed to be a new kind of software infrastructure that makes it easy for apps to make use of this information and provide new kinds of services and experiences.

Mobile and web 2.0 tech is sufficiently widespread and cost-effective to make this scale of information exchange and dynamic service creation possible. And object connectivity tech like NFC chips, RFID and WiFi tags have now passed key tipping points in terms of cost.

Who is your target audience?

We have two main audiences: Firstly, manufacturers and brand owners who want to create an online presence for their products or other company assets and make them available online, augment them with digital resources, and integrate them with online services.  

Secondly, developers who want to create apps or services that work with dynamic information from or about objects, particularly where multiple applications need to share a common set of data, and where updates need to aggregated from many different inputs.

Other revenue-generating audiences would be channel partners like consultancies, agencies and integrators who want to provide Evrythng enabled services to their clients. And also Network Operators who want to add value to objects connected via their network and create revenue opportunities enabling real-time, connected object transactions and services.

Finally, we’re making Evrythng freely available for non-commercial use like academic and research programs who want to manage catalogs of any kind of objects, gather field data, and build analytical and visualisation applications that are all publically-sharable.

What are your immediate goals?

To get to a couple of hundred active beta users with live applications at Evrythng.net/beta.html.

We’ve got about that number signed up but want to see all of those turning into active apps and uses and build the learnings from this community into our iterative process of designing and releasing new APIs, wrappers, tools, code libraries and UIs, and new versions of the platform itself.

We also want to see more production apps go live such as Worksnug which uses the Evrythng to manage information tens of thousands of objects, and for integrations with object information from Skype and HP. We want to launch some of the early adopter apps in our pipeline in partnership with a number of brands, agencies, chip manufacturers and content owners – to generate revenue and create proof points.

Finally, we want to bring on-board investors and strategic partners who can help us fulfil the vision.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building Evrythng?

Probably getting our heads around this emerging space of connected things: what services to design for it, how to create and articulate the proposition and so on. Also, the technical challenges will keep changing.

For instance, a platform design that scales to handle millions and then billions of objects with real-time event streams and trackable histories.  

Ensuring we are open enough to be an effective connector for objects and applications, and ensuring we are absolutely robust in serving commercial applications.

How will the company make money?

Evrythng is a new venture and a lot of stuff is still under wraps. Right now Evrythng is free to use for non-commercial projects, within certain limits (there’s an option to upgrade to a ‘Pro’ account for heavy non-commercial usage).

We see lots of value opportunities in managing active digital identities, the transactions around those identities, the analytics and so-on.

What is your pricing model?

We’re not ready to reveal that just yet. The service we provide and how we charge for it does relate to the volume of objects we’re managing for a customer, and the kind of SLAs they need around those active identities.

Who is in the team and what does it look like?

The two of us (Niall Murphy co-founded The Cloud wifi company, Andy Hobsbawm started the first international web agency and co-founded Agency.com in Europe) represent the key domains of technology + marketing / customer experience.

The rest of the team is built around these areas: we run a development team in the Ukraine in partnership with Code Worldwide, and have a UI design team in London. We’re recruiting for tech and product development, content integration and go-to-market team members in US and Europe.

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years' time?

Within the next 12 months we will have rolled-out a specific go-to-market service built on the Evrythng platform in an initial territory and, based on hitting certain milestones and learning from that experience, begun expanding it out.  

We also expect to be working on programs with a number of major brands.

In three to five years we will have established Evrythng as the go-to platform for creating and managing digital identities for physical objects. A thriving ecosystem of applications and service providers building amazing new ways to interact and transact with the physical world will have become possible.

Developers will be using the Evrythng platform to, as API Evangelist reported recently: “…mashup object information, add and exchange information with other objects, then combine and coordinate information and interaction across multiple applications and interfaces.”

What will you be speaking about at the Future of Digital marketing event? 

Our vision of ‘A Facebook for things’, a world where individual physical objects have a unique digital profile, like we all do, which can be updated, shared and added to.

Not just a type of thing, but a specific thing, such as this particular table in a restaurant or Andy’s pair of Camper Jam shoes as opposed to anyone else with the same product.

Toyota Friend which just launched is a good example of this starting to happen. Your car has an active identity and communicates with you to text you alerts when you need to re-charge the engine, or change the tires, and this all connects with your social networks.

Graham Charlton

Published 3 June, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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