With the costs to access space decreasing, space and IoT growth have taken shape over the recent years, opening up new markets and expanding connectivity rapidly. In this podcast, Alexandre Tisserant, President of Kinéis, a new satellite provider and connectivity provider dedicated to the Internet of Things, discusses his background as an IT engineer and his experience leading Kinéis. He explains that Kinéis currently has eight satellites in low orbit and provides commercial service to connect 20,000 objects around the earth. He also mentions that Kinéis raised 100 million euros to launch 25 new nanosatellites in 2023 to improve the performance and lower the cost of their service, with a focus on use cases such as science and wildlife monitoring, shipping vessel tracking, logistics, smart agriculture, and energy infrastructure. He also explains that satellite connectivity is complementary to terrestrial connectivity and will be used more in hybrid connectivity.
Alexandre Tisserant is the ex-Deputy Chief of Staff to the Deputy Minister for Digital Affairs and Innovation. He became President of Kinéis three years ago and has a background in telecommunications engineering, graduating from Ecole Polytechnique and TelecomParisTech in France. He worked for several years for the French Government and spent two years as COO of a hardware startup in San Francisco.
Interested in connecting with Alexandre? Reach out on Linkedin!
Kinéis is a satellite operator and global connectivity provider. It inherited from 40 years of expertise with the Argos system, founded at that time by CNES (French space agency) and operated by CLS (Collecte Localisation Satellites). To simplify and revolutionize the uses of IoT by professionals and individuals, Kinéis locates and connects objects anywhere around the world. Kinéis raised 100 million euros from public and private investors in 2020.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:26) Introduction to Alexandre & Kinéis
(02:55) Leading use cases
(04:31) Why is space so important now
(06:13) Biggest industries and adopters
(08:00) Biggest challenges
(09:56) Challenges of quickly building the pilot
(13:24) What should we be paying attention to?
– [Alexandre] We have 20,000 devices. Actually, it’s not a lot and the goal is to multiply this by at least 100 and we can do that because now with all, what we call New Space, we are able to do satellites that are much smaller, cheaper, and that can do at least the same performances.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the IoT for All podcast presented by IoT for All, the number one publication and resource for the Internet of Things. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon, and on today’s episode, we have Alexandre Tisserant, the President of Kinéis. They are a company that focuses on being a satellite operator and global connectivity provider. So, we’re going to talk about leading use cases for space and IoT, why space is a place that you should be really focusing your attention on when it comes to the progression and growth of the IoT industry. Challenges in the space, as well as advice for kind of utilizing satellite connectivity for an IoT solution, so, all in all, fantastic episode that I think you’ll get a lot of value out of. But before we get into it, if you’re out there and looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market, but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor, Leverege. Leverege’s IoT solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com. That’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT for All Podcast. Welcome to the IoT for All Podcast. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Alexandre] Thank you.
– [Ryan] Yeah, so I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. What I wanted to do was kick this off by having you give a quick introduction about yourself to our audience. So just background experience, things that will be relevant for our audience to know.
– [Alexandre] Yeah, very good. So, thanks for having me today. I am Alexandre Tisserant. I’m the President of Kinéis, which is a new satellite provider, and connectivity provider dedicated to the IoT. So myself, I have background as an IT engineer. I’ve worked for French Government, for a California startup, and now I’m at Kinéis since the beginning, which means like five years ago now, in Toulouse in France. And so we are a company, we are 62 people now, and, we as I say, are a satellite provider. That means that today, we have eight satellites flying in space in low orbit, and we have already commercial service available and also we connect 20,000 objects around the earth thanks to our satellites. And we raised two years ago, 100 million euros to launch next year, 2023, 25 new nano-satellites to improve the performances of our constellation, our service, and so to lower the cost and to be able to have new markets available for space IoT.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, so, well let me ask you, what use cases do you all focus on? Is there any kind of particular use cases that have kind of led the way from your side of things?
– [Alexandre] Yeah, well, you know, on the surface of the globe, we only have like around 15% of the surface, which is covered by terrestrial networks. Which is fine for when you’re human or when you have objects in cities or connected territories. But 85% of the surface is not connected. That includes of course, oceans, seas, desert, mountains or whatever. And so, our use case are mainly rated to the fact that for some objects that are traveling around the world, they lack connectivity. So we’ll focus on, historically on science and wildlife monitoring, shipping vessels tracking, and now also going into logistics markets in large, from rail to containers to sea, smart agriculture with some monitoring energy infrastructures from pipeline to dams or water travels for example. So, we have many use cases that are interesting for satellites, one thing we may had is that satellite connectivity is really complimentary to terrestrial connectivity and so we will not, for example, go on typical terrestrial IoT stuff like smart cities, but we will more be into hybrid connectivity between terrestrial and satellite to follow things all around the world.
– [Ryan] Gotcha, fantastic. So let me ask from from your perspective with the industry as a whole, why have we as an IoT industry now started to move to space? So like why is space such a important kind of element to the growth of the industry and use cases?
– [Alexandre] Yeah, well one thing that is interesting is that we are not exactly moving toward space in the history of IoT, actually space was here before terrestrial networks. We come from the world, the agro system world, where we had satellites back in the ’80’s, in 1980’s where we already have a few satellites that connected some wild animals. Now it was for some scientists and so it was it was little like artisanal stuff, I would say. So now we are going to space because we can do in an industrial way, and this is really the shift that we are living right now. We, as I said, we have 20,000 devices, actually it’s not a lot and the goal is to multiply this by at least a hundred and we can do that because now with all what we call New space we are able to do satellites that are much smaller, cheaper and that can do at least the same performances. And so, when you have your infrastructure that costs a lot less you are able to lower your cost of connectivity and so to have new markets available to space. So it’s really this access to space that is cheaper that allows you to augment the connectivity surface with satellites.
– [Ryan] Right, right, well, yeah, that makes total sense. Do you, outside of what you are seeing in the space from a use case perspective, where do you kind of see if we look, let’s say six, 12 months down the road, maybe 18 months kind of thing, where do we see as more satellites get launched and more connectivity is available in the IoT space? What industries and use cases do you really think will kind of start to become bigger adopters of IoT and those use cases? What would those be that will be able to be or I guess be enabled with the addition of going to space?
– [Alexandre] Well, like I said, we have some of them, many, actually. Logistics is really one of them, which is very interesting in IoT, the only in space IoT, the only point is that logistic industry is really tough on price. And so, it’s not easy to make money in this sector. On the contrary, on the agriculture side or on the energy side, industry side, it’s something that is really interesting. For example, we have industries that have several sites, industrial sites around the world, like for oil or just for water treatment. And these sites are not very well connected in with actual trucks. And more than that, they don’t want to depend on local networks in case of trouble, they don’t, they want to be able to communicate without terrestrial network. And so this is where we typically are today focusing on because these people have a real interest in the technology, they also have enough money to put on. And so this is the most viable use cases I see today.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. So I wanted to ask, so when you in the process of building the company and getting to where you are now, what have been some of the biggest challenges that you’ve come across from your side of things?
– [Alexandre] Well, I would say that two major, the first one has been to convince investors to finance the company. I mean, a hundred million euros is not a little deal. And when you’re talking about space and it was three years ago almost now, it was not that common that it is now. I mean in the minds of investors. And so we first had to convince investors that this is a good project and so to do that we had a chance to have the French space agency with us that helped us to validate technical projects so to give confidence to investors. This was the, the financing part was really a hard one. And fortunately we could do it in time. And the second one is not exactly on the infrastructure satellite side, but more on the commercial side because we are in the process of educating new players, new industries, new clients to these space IoT and a lot of them know IoT, but they not very familiar with the whole possibility of it and especially with the space IoT. So, this takes time, this costs people and money but this is totally necessary. So we put in place an organization to educate markets and we made an ecosystem like in one month we are doing our first partner day, we gather all the ecosystem of manufacturers, device manufacturer, clients of Kinéis so they can meet up and, you know, develop some interesting partnerships. And so all this stuff has to be done, so we happy to do it, though it takes a little time.
– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely, so let me, one other question I had about this comes from a challenges perspective, this is a little bit different from talking about the technology and the use cases and such, but, just what a, I guess I’m trying to think of the best way to ask this question, when it goes from a company reaching out to you like a potential client, turning them from a prospect to a client, going from that POC to full development in an amount of time that is relatively acceptable by the new client, what are some of the challenges that you all have seen making that happen, speeding up that time to basically the approved concept, the pilot and what what kind of advice do you have for companies out there looking to improve that process themselves and maybe struggle with it as well?
– [Alexandre] Yeah, well, this is really a good question and a good challenge. It definitely takes time, always too much. What is important is really to focus on the customer pain points. I mean, we are going, we’re coming with a solution, a technical solution, so we can connect anything anywhere, okay, fine, but what is a client trying to solve? And it is just he wants to connect something but for what? For location, for to know it better to do predictive maintenance, to prevent loss or whatever. And so you have to understand that because at the end, the connectivity itself is just a part of the solution. And so you have to partner with obviously the right device manufacturers but maybe also the good solution integrator provider if it’s not you, and so already, you have to take time to understand it very well. And if at the end maybe your connectivity is not the best for that, okay, that’s fine, you don’t lose your time and you, you’ll see at the end a feedback. Don’t go chat with a client that just looks interested in your solution technology. Because maybe at the end it will take like 12 months to do a POC and a lot of energy at the end and you will just see that, okay, this is actually not the best solution for the problem he has. And so you just lose 12 months half a people to do that all the time. So, already understand the use case understand the pain point, and what you are bringing as a solution, and don’t hesitate to accept that your solution is not the best for this case.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, yeah, it’s been a very interesting kind of evolution for companies being able to do this better and better and better as they learn how to first bring in prospects, turn them into client that is willing to pay and work with them to build a proof of concept and then proving the use case and the ROI out to get to a scale deployment and doing that in an amount of time that is acceptable within the organization, that meets their deadlines, that starts to, you know solves the problem that they’re looking to solve quickly. But I think it is a challenge that a lot of companies still face and it’d be interesting to kind of see how companies continue to work to solve and speed that up and I think the availability of new technologies, like we’re talking about today, having the nano satellites being increasing connectivity, those kinds of things are just gonna make this more and more accessible and the chance to success higher.
– [Alexandre] Exactly, totally agree with that.
– [Ryan] So as we look out, let’s say, you know for the next few years, what are you most excited about? What is the company kind of, what’s on the roadmap? What are you kind of focused on doing and what should we as an audience be focused on, I guess paying attention to and looking forward to?
– [Alexandre] Yeah, sure. Well, the first thing is that we are still in the deployment of our new system, the constellation, like I said, we already have satellites but we are launching 25 new ones next year from New Zealand and in the meantime we are deploying a network of Grand Station on the world. So we position all networks where we are in term of deployment. But yeah, to give you an example, I mean this space constellation is really a big thing in the room for us, like I just brought the, a model of the satellite C is just, it’s a one fifth model so it’s not that big, you know, and so at the end the satellites is just 20 by 20, by 40 centimeter. I mean the, the yellow box is that size so it’s like a big shoebox. So this really interesting tech stuff exciting us today in this space to me, besides we all have this ecosystem animation that is taking a lot of time to us. And so, like I said, we have our first partner there next month, we just opened a subsidiary in the US like six months ago and so we’re deploying also in the US market. So really looking forward to add a lot of new players in our ecosystem. And so 2023 will really be the year of preparation of the launch of the constellation both on the tech space side and on the commercial and device side.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, yeah, it’s an awesome space that you’re in. I think what you have going on is very interesting and I’ve been speaking to a bunch of companies recently who are getting into the satellite IoT space and really trying to make it more plausible for companies to have better access to that kind of connectivity, to enable more use cases. So, what you all have going on is awesome for the industry and very excited to kind of stay in touch and see how it goes. For our audience out there who wants to follow up, ask questions, learn more about what you have going on, those kinds of things, what’s the best way to do that?
– [Alexandre] Well just go either on our website or maybe just on LinkedIn and just look for Kinéis on LinkedIn and we post lot of news there. And so just follow us and you can try and contact with us whenever you want, we are quite reactive to do that, so.
– [Ryan] Perfect, well, really appreciate your time. This has been a great episode. Thank you so much for kind of coming on and sharing some of the insights that you have. Look forward to getting this out to our audience and would love to have you back at some point in the future.
– [Alexandre] Sure, we will. Thank you, Ryan.
– [Ryan] Thank you. All right everyone, thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT for All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel and be sure to hit the bell notifications so you get the latest episodes as soon as they become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time.