Internet of Business chats with Raphael Scheps, CEO and co-founder of Converge, a London-based start-up that wants to help industrial organizations say goodbye to manual monitoring.
What does Converge do?
Converge builds massively scalable wireless sensor networks for industry. We are currently focused on the construction industry and our first product has helped hundreds of engineers monitor concrete strength in real time, on site. Our technology automates manual monitoring and analysis of sensor data on site, helping civil engineers optimize their program time and build safer structures more efficiently. Some of our customers have experienced a 27 percent reduction in cycle time, which has a huge impact on program, bringing time certainty to one of the largest industries in the world.
How and why did you develop this technology?
Gideon (Farell, CTO and co-founder) and I have a background in astrophysics and fundamental physics, and deep expertise working with sensor data. When I spent some time at the Weizmann Institute as an astrophysics researcher, I looked at sensor data from telescopes to detect and analyze properties of supernovae. Gideon spent his master’s thesis analyzing sensor data from solar satellites, and also worked on one of Intel’s early IoT projects, WISP at Georgia Tech.
The two of us met in our first year at Cambridge. When we graduated four years later, we joined the Entrepreneur First (EF) incubator in London, and set out to find ways of applying that expertise to a concrete problem. That’s when EF first introduced us to Tom [Giles], a civil engineer at Laing O’Rourke and we started discovering the challenges faced by the construction industry and the impact the IoT could have on our ability to tackle major challenges.
How does it work?
We’ve designed our own hardware that runs on top of the TI CC1310 and our nodes run the RPL mesh networking protocol, with cellular connectivity at the border router. We have developed device management capabilities, and complex stream processing on the platform side which is all Node.js based with React on the frontend. We’re always looking for more engineers, so do get in touch if this sounds like the kind of stack you might want to work on.
Who is your target audience?
Our users are civil engineers, project directors, engineering consultancies and other subcontractors out on site. There are a number of stakeholders on any construction site that want to see real-time data to better inform decision making.
Are there any pilot programs that you can share?
I cannot share particular project names, but we have been doing a lot of work with Bam Nuttall which has seen significant program time improvements by using our technology. (For more info, see this case study). We’ve also been able to help reduce concreting cycle time on some of London’s major high-rise project from ten days to seven days.
How are you funded?
Converge is backed by the Cambridge Angels (our first investment round was led by Peter Cowley, their chairman, who is also a non-executive director on our board), Entrepreneur First, Martlet (the Marshall Group) and a number of other investors with expertise in the industrial and IoT sectors.
What are your future ambitions?
We believe that manual monitoring is a systemic problem across industry – from construction sites to chocolate factories. The technology we have developed scales across different sensing problems and different industries. Bringing data-driven decision making to some of the world’s most traditional industries will allow us to tackle major projects we have, historically, not been able to carry out. We see Converge as the ubiquitous computing platform and infrastructure provider that enables this change.