In five years, there will be 57 billion wireless devices globally, estimates Joni Korppi, CEO of Treon. It is a hard number to grasp but a huge market opportunity for the Tampere-based startup which develops smart wireless devices and hardware platforms for industrial companies.
“Wireless technologies and sensors are close to our heart,” Korppi explains. “We make small, battery-operated wireless sensor devices primarily for industry, logistics and smart-buildings applications.”
Treon’s strengths are in the scalability, cost-efficiency and intelligence of its technology. It can be used to monitor industrial equipment and connect them with numerous cloud platforms. The first commercial example of this is Treon’s collaboration with Swiss pump giant Sulzer. Together, the companies have developed Treon Industrial Node, a wireless device to monitor the condition of rotating machinery. Launched in mid-2019, the device can be used, for example, to detect faults and production bottlenecks.
The collaboration marked a significant breakthrough for Treon. Thanks to Sulzer’s reseller network, the industrial node has been available to a global customer base from day one. Add the one million euros in seed funding that Treon raised in May, and the startup is ready for international expansion.
Made by Nokia
While Treon targets big businesses, its roots lie in consumer products. The company’s seven founders all earned their spurs developing smartphones for Nokia and Microsoft. In fact, Treon was founded with support from Microsoft’s startup programme in late 2016.
“We gathered the best people from Microsoft’s last mobile phone unit in Finland,” Korppi says. “Together, we possess rare technical expertise from working in the highly competitive world of smartphones.”
Treon started by designing products for others. The startup has helped various Finnish companies – including customer feedback specialist HappyOrNot and fellow Microsoft alumni Varjo – to develop their smart devices. This has enabled Treon to grow its operations and finance the development of its own products.
The strategy has paid off. Today, Treon employs 23 people and has just released its first commercial products: the Industrial Node, Treon Node and Treon Gateway. The nodes are sensor devices packed with measuring capabilities and the gateway devices connect them to any existing cloud platform. Together, they can be used to create connected networks with hundreds of thousands of sensors.
Now the focus for Treon is expansion, bringing these devices to a global market through strategic partnerships (such as the Sulzen deal) and tapping into the partners’ reseller networks.
“Our aim is to work with the top five companies across different industries. We are already in discussion with several big companies that are looking to digitalise their operations,” Korppi enthuses.
Treon’s collaborative approach also applies to its tech partners. The company uses speciality technology from several Finnish companies, including Wirepas and Radientum, and works with them to develop tailored IoT packages for its customers. This approach has already found Treon pilot projects in 18 countries, including Australia, South Africa and the US.
“Microsoft’s startup programme has helped to start many of these companies. It is a unique Finnish characteristic that we all know each other, and that makes it easy to work together,” says Korppi.
And it is this sense of the importance of maintaining historical connections which makes Treon’s vision for a future of smart connected devices compelling.
“We want to make it possible, together with our partners, to connect all kinds of devices together,” Korppi explains. “We are passionate wireless device people; we want to keep the Nokia legacy of wireless innovation alive.”