IoT experts Alan Fabik and Pavel Hübner met under the banner of technology company Jablotron Projects, where they were tasked with recruiting interesting talent, start-ups and teams to the Jablotron Group. “After some time, we decided to try to start our own start-up, which we built on Pavel’s technological genius, which is endless in the field of product development and positioning, and my experience in how to market products and find customers,” recalls Alan, CEO, Chairman of the Board of HARDWARIO.
The first idea was a unique IoT kit that was exceptional in terms of security, ease of assembly and power consumption. But then came the sobering up. “The shortcuts we offered were not wanted by our target group. But we have learned to react very quickly to change,” says Alan Fabik, adding that the investment in the first product has paid off. Thanks to the kit, they got their first order from the industry and changed direction and started to deliver customized products. Even custom development was not the right fit for HARDWARIO in the end. “What we do best became apparent gradually. And that is to work in a b2b environment and take innovative things from the world around us and offer them to companies immediately,” says Pavel Hübner, CTO and member of the board. Together with Alan, they knew that the right direction was to focus on their own products.
The major breakthrough eventually came from the outside. “Thanks to the IoT network launched by Vodafone a few years ago, we were able to design the first generation of our flagship product CHESTER. It is a highly configurable universal IoT gateway that allows you to connect things to the Internet. CHESTER is, with a bit of exaggeration, a “computer” into which customers and partners can write their own applications. Thanks to this, they can build their own products and services on the basis of this platform and thus accelerate their development cycle,” Pavel explains.
Where there is no socket, there is HARDWARIO
For the last two years, HARDWARIO has been operating in a “new” area, thanks to which it is following its own unique path. The Liberec company supplies its partners with everything needed for successful IoT projects – configurable devices, connectivity, cloud services and open development tools for developing their own applications.
“We found ourselves in industry. More and more companies know that they need to have their products connected to the Internet to offer twenty-first century services. Creating a digital twin of any product is the alpha and omega. It is equally important to have the production or storage process connected. All this with the aim of optimization. IoT is absolutely key to this,” says Alan Fabik, adding that trying to have a connected product or process is one thing. But going through the whole process of entering the IoT world is very challenging. “The whole process of connecting a device to the internet is complicated. So that it is sustainable, scalable and safe. Large manufacturing companies find that they do not have experts in this area and are looking for a partner to help them with implementation. And that’s what we do,” he adds.
With the motto “where there is no socket, we succeed”, HARDWARIO has quickly managed to reach unique projects from Australia to Canada. Whether it’s forest fire watch, non-invasive monitoring of energy consumption, tracking buying behaviour or remote control of machinery and equipment, HARDWARIO always finds a progressive and efficient way to transmit data. “Now we have new cooperation with a virtual operator, for example, we are able to offer global connectivity without having to negotiate with individual operators,” says Alan Fabik. Thanks to this, the networks that HARDWARIO uses have such a good signal that technicians can install them anywhere in the factory without the signal dropping. “What’s more, we are able to put them into operation during the lunch break,” adds Pavel Hübner.
Unique link to partners
It’s not just the IoT platforms themselves that can transmit data from places where there is no standard connection to the power grid and the internet. “The product part is just one thing. The other is support. We are crossing the imaginary valley of death of IoT implementation with our customers,” says Alan Fabik. HARDWARIO has thus expanded its portfolio to include cloud services, providing easy management and integration of IoT devices, as well as open development toolkits, enabling the creation of custom applications. Highly professional technical and business support is also an essential part of the offer.
Despite considerable growth, HARDWARIO has not become a colossus. Rather than expanding the team horizontally, Alan and Paul opted for satellite partners to provide technical and business support, including an open set of development tools to enable the creation of custom applications. “Partners take CHESTER, for example, as a programmable device and grow on it. We will help them to rebrand and customize the boxes. We are in the role of their mentor and help with the business as well. In short, we do everything we can to make our partners successful,” Alan describes the model and Pavel adds: “Together, we can really deliver solutions very quickly to the current problems that end customers have.” Such a model is a bit more challenging to work with at the beginning, according to both, but it makes the cross-border partnerships HARDWARIO has today all the more stable.
Thanks to its specific business model, the company’s customers include Škoda Auto, Asahi, ArcelorMittal, Siemens and Coca-Cola. Technology partners include mobile network operators and Microsoft. “We are now a proven team of experts who are able to work with anyone around the world,” says Alan.
Global ambitions with the Prague Stock Exchange
Today, HARDWARIO sees itself as a Czech innovator with global ambitions and with a bit of exaggeration its founders claim that the “sky is the limit”. “I am convinced that the area in which we are currently operating, i.e. not only the Internet of Things, but digitalization in general, actually has no boundaries. I can’t imagine that in the near future there will be a company that doesn’t have its product or process connected to the Internet. This creates incredible opportunities for companies like us,” says Alan. In the past, the company has supported its global development by establishing offices in the Great Britain, Poland and the USA. “For example, North America was the fastest growing region for IoT in 2021. We have set up a sales office there precisely to be ready for the challenges,” adds Alan. Another challenge, he said, is Leo systems, low-orbit satellites that allow communication from anywhere.
According to both Alan and Pavel, HARDWARIO is in a unique growth position today, thanks to strong relationships with suppliers and a range of ideas on how to take the company forward. “We are in a good position today and have an idea of how to accelerate our growth,” says Alan, describing one of the reasons they decided to enter the Start market. The new capital will help with international acceleration for the development of our sales system. Another reason is the good experience with community financing. “We want to show that this is a good way to finance growth companies. We love knowing our investors and living our story with them. We look forward to exploring new opportunities in the IoT industry with them,” adds Pavel.
Currently, Alan says he is successful in attracting new partners and growing turnover. Since its establishment in 2016, the company’s turnover has grown to CZK 20 million, while last year and the year before it reached CZK 21 million, which was due to the shift away from custom development towards selling its own products and services. The turnover of the past two years, according to Alan, is made up of the delivery of dozens of IoT pilots in different regions and industries.
Investing in Hardwario is a good investment in the long run. Personally, I really see it as a matter of the heart. I believe it when I see how our team works. We are really trying to create the groundwork so that it is technologically and commercially viable for several years ahead. And that is why I hope that one day HARDWARIO will not only be a good investment, but also a good legacy for future generations, and indeed for my children,” concludes Pavel Hübner.