Andrey Armyagov/123RF

ELSE: The Startup Disrupting Machine-to-Machine Communications

  • 29 August 2017
  • Disruptor of the Day

Disruptor of the Day Interview Series: In our new interview series, we interview leading entrepreneurs and executives that are leveraging technology to disrupt their industry. In these interviews, our goal is to understand why the industry is ripe for disruption, how they are changing it and what the future looks like from the perspective of an industry thought leader.

Interview: Fabien Jordan, CEO of ELSE

Fabien Jordan Credit: ELSE SA

Why is your industry ripe for disruption?

FJ: Currently, ground communication is not global and existing satellite communication technology is far too expensive. The prohibitive cost of today’s technology has left many companies unable to track, manage and enhance their global assets to the fullest capacity. This has negatively affected productivity, customer service and profitability across numerous global industries. A solution is needed.

How are you disrupting your industry? What technology are you using to do it?

FJ: ELSE is currently developing a network of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) nanosatellites named Astrocast that will provide cost effective IoT and machine-to-machine services to global enterprises. The Astrocast constellation is comprised of 64 satellites and is designed to provide unlimited coverage all over the planet, with no geographical limitations. The spacecraft will collect data, which will be delivered to ground stations, then distributed for access by customers through a secure Internet gateway. Astrocast is expected to disrupt and serve numerous industries globally, driving efficiencies and operational cost advantages across numerous sectors including retail, agriculture, automotive, transportation and logistics, utilities, maritime, oil and gas, and others. Our first mission is expected for mid-2018 and will put our first satellites into space. We expect all satellites to be in orbit by 2021.

What problem are you solving for your customers?

FJ: Astrocast is a much-needed solution, offering businesses across numerous sectors global and cost-effective connectivity. The constellation will enable remote monitoring, geolocation services, intelligent data and predictive maintenance and, in doing so, will enhance operations, efficiencies, productivity, customer service, and profit for countless companies and industries. With machine-to-machine communications burgeoning, numerous applications for the Astrocast service have already been identified, however, we anticipate more and more applications will be discovered.

What’s the future of the ground communication industry?

FJ: The Internet of Things is a big growth opportunity for all operators. But as more and more devices will need to be connected everywhere around the globe, the transmission of critical data via satellite with a very cost-effective approach will undoubtedly become a lucrative market. Any global company that owns and operated numerous installations around the world will use more and more combined telecom solutions and satellite M2M will become a significant part of that combination.

What else? Feel free to make any milestones, big company wins, or any other information you would like us to know as we make our selections.

FJ: Our company is proud to announce that we successfully closed our seed round of funding in August. The $3 million capital raise was enabled by a group of investors including Airbus Ventures, a Geneva-based Independent Assets Manager and Multi Family Office, as well as numerous additional Swiss- and internationally-based private investors. This funding follows $3 million previously raised by the company in public support through Swiss grants and the European Space Agency (ESA) via the agency’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program, which transforms research and development investment into successful commercial products.

Additionally, we very recently announced an alliance and memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Thuraya Telecommunications Company, the leading mobile satellite operator. The agreement will allow both companies to collaborate and benefit from each other’s capabilities on multiple fronts including technical, regulatory, and sales and marketing. The agreement between Thuraya and ELSE extends their product and service portfolios considerably besides facilitating expedited access to market. Jassem Nasser, Thuraya’s Chief Strategy Officer, said of the alliance, “This agreement forms the foundation of an extensive framework and an exciting long-term collaboration towards providing a progressive platform for our partners to offer services beyond basic satellite connectivity. FUTURA, our future plan, encompasses three main pillars, one of which is “New Wave” services for M2M and IoT applications. Our alliance with ELSE serves as a building block for the development of this component of FUTURA and further reaffirms our commitment in building value through partnerships.”

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