ConnectedYou (CY) is a Danish IoT (Internet of Things) company headquartered in Copenhagen. Our journey began almost a decade ago when we recognized challenges in the IoT industry. However, we had to wait due to the absence of standards and market readiness. For the past 5 years, we have successfully operated as a bootstrapped business. ConnectedYou provides next-generation connectivity orchestration solutions for the IoT industry, serving a wide range of verticals and industries, including startups, large global enterprises like Uber, and innovative mobile operators. Our goal is to “Democratize IoT Connectivity” and eliminate supplier lock-ins.
Who Are the Founders?
ConnectedYou was founded in 2018 by Parag Mittal (CEO), Ianni Vamvadelis (CTO), Arun Shankar (COO), and Velipekka Kuoppala (CBO), who also form the management and board of the company. The story began when two of our co-founders, Parag Mittal and Arun Shankar, met for the first time on a business trip. They spent the entire night brainstorming and talking, inadvertently oversleeping all their meetings the next day. In a similar fashion, Parag met another co-founder, Velipekka Kuoppala, who was working for a partner company. Parag fondly recalls Veli as the person always seen wearing a three-piece suit even in the sweltering Indian summers. They bonded over their shared love for wine and spicy food. Later, Parag crossed paths with Ianni, the CTO and another co-founder, during their time at Soracom. Ianni brought exceptional business acumen along with a wealth of knowledge and skills in technology.
What Is the Story Behind ConnectedYou?
Our co-founders gathered to discuss the first business plan over drinks and barbecue. At some point, they were…Parag quotes, “I would say not drunk, but high on passion.”
During that crucial and passionate discussion, they envisioned a future where they could look at any IoT solution and confidently say, “You Are Connected.” After a bit of wordplay and a few more drinks, they coined the name “ConnectedYou.”
“There is always a good or weird story behind a brand name, but we adopted it because it effectively conveys what we do and showcases our achievements,” says Parag.
In the early days, they would regroup every few months to reassess the business plan and direction. They would formulate a concrete action plan, and everyone would eagerly step up to take on additional or new responsibilities. The four of them were committed to adding value and building an ecosystem that supports their team, customers, and the company. From a simple 5-slide pitch, ConnectedYou had evolved into a company with a clear vision and customer base.
A few key elements mattered throughout the process:
- Validating the proposition with a large number of customers and partners before embarking on product development.
- Assembling the founding team based on their individual merits and what they could bring to the table, prioritizing the people factor.
- Eventually, when the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) was ready, onboarding the first customers and initiating billing.
We aimed to focus on the journey so that we could enjoy what we were doing. There were many moments that enriched our lives and turned ConnectedYou into a story worth telling.
What Solution Does ConnectedYou Offer?
ConnectedYou offers a cloud-based connectivity orchestration platform called IoT Orchestration Hub. This platform enables enterprises to manage connectivity from multiple mobile operators globally through a single pane of glass web console and unified API. It also allows enterprises to remotely switch mobile operator subscriptions without physically replacing the SIMs in the devices.
We have an integrated ecosystem of over 40 mobile operators already integrated into the platform and aim to integrate over 100 mobile operators by the end of 2024. Along with special permanent roaming contracts, this has enabled ConnectedYou to provide the world’s largest integrated solution for IoT connectivity, offering the widest coverage for all network technologies such as 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, LTE-M, and NB-IoT.
ConnectedYou currently manages over 5 million active connections with more than 2,000 enterprises from over 50 countries. Our IoT devices have been deployed in over 85 countries.
“Building a company from scratch, starting with just 5 slides and turning it into a profitable business that is bootstrapped without any external investment was not an easy journey, and I can’t imagine it being possible without my partners,” says Parag Mittal. “We faced numerous ups and downs along the way, and every time I looked beside me, I always found my partners standing with me, smiling and saying, ‘We can do it. Let’s do it.'”
There were challenges on both the personal and business fronts that needed to be tackled. For example, assigning roles to individuals, allocating work, and hiring the right people for further expansion. Each step required thorough deliberation. Thankfully, the synergy and connection between the co-founders were excellent and provided the initial push to launch ConnectedYou. Parag claims that trust and camaraderie between partners were the keys to success. Firstly, there was a natural element of experience and expertise that played a significant role. Secondly, they didn’t believe in fixed roles for founders because being a founder is not a job; it’s a way of life.
On the other hand, there are more pragmatic reasons. Parag said, “I feel there are two types of challenges – personal and professional – when it comes to starting and growing a company.”
Advice to Others in the Market?
Parag believes that most founders struggle with balancing personal space and time, which includes spending time with loved ones and family. It’s also about embracing the pain of the moments you miss as your kids grow up. Mental and physical health is another critical aspect that one should be aware of before embarking on this entrepreneurial journey.
“It is not and never a bed of roses, and there are a lot of personal sacrifices you will end up making that cannot be fixed later. I could give advice about time management, etc., but I also know it is very hard to put that theory into practice. There is no work-life balance, or maybe only a very small percentage of founders can manage it, and even those who claim to have managed it still have not in reality.”
Parag says, and we quote, “Professionally, my view is that growing a company essentially means growing revenue and margins. Everything else that you do is just an action to achieve this goal.” According to him, the biggest challenge is to figure out how to ethically and morally achieve that. How can we do right by our employees and customers? Another important consideration today is to do right for the environment and the planet. Every single day, every single task that we do, we must ask ourselves, “How is this right?”
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