Dyn co-founder sees a future in the smart home
Hitchcock’s new startup focuses on enhancing Internet of Things connectivity
As the CEO of Manchester-based Minim, Jeremy Hitchcock is set on delivering the futuristic promise of the smart home.
In 2017, the co-founder of Dyn Inc., founded the Wi-Fi and Internet-of-Things security platform to execute his vision of home network devices communicating efficiently, free from the interference of internet slowdowns and cybersecurity attacks.
On Monday, the Manchester company announced it had acquired MCP Networks, the North Dakota-based creator of the connected device performance platform, Aerez. The acquisition adds five members to Minim’s team of 15.
“I’m super excited about the Internet of Things,” said Hitchcock. “I want the coffee machine to know when I move my phone – it can see my phone is moving and all of a sudden I’m awake and the lights turn on automatically. That’s the premise of the smart home; it responds to you in ways that are fascinating.”
But, no matter the reason, whenever technology doesn’t work or meet consumers’ privacy expectations, it’s a broken promise, said Hitchcock.
“Anytime there’s an issue with technology, I think it can slow down the adoption of this magic,” he argued. “When I think about it, the responsibility we have at Minim is to help the homeowner understand what it [the at-home management of IoT devices] means because some of this is really complicated. We can help demystify it and weave it automatically into people’s lives.”
Selling its management solution to internet service providers, Minim allows ISPs and home consumers to oversee the management of IoT device connectivity and maximize WiFi signals. Minim has contracted with 50 ISPs and has been deployed to 100,000 homes in the U.S.
With the addition of MCP Networks, Minim’s customer base has expanded to small wireless internet service providers, referred to by the IT world as WISPs, which play an important role in bringing Wi-Fi and IoT to rural areas that are not-cost effective for larger providers.
“There are about 300 to 500 of these small internet service providers that serve 10 to 20 million subscribers,” said Hitchcock, noting these small organizations are able to deliver fast internet speeds using a different transport mechanism – fixed wireless connections rather than DSL, cable or fiber. “[MCP Networks] was doing the same thing at Minim, but was doing it for these internet service providers. We had the same mission, same vision, and they started from a security perspective.”
The concept is a different take on the premise of Dyn, Hitchcock’s successful startup that was sold to Oracle in 2016.
“The similarity is Dyn worked on the infrastructure of the internet. We were the traffic cop helping to route traffic. What we’re doing at Minim is making sure the right devices have the right level of connectivity,” explained Hitchcock. “Minim is more focused on optimizing a single household.”
For instance, individuals in their home could use Minim’s router and platform to troubleshoot problems with Netflix streaming.
“One thing we’re trying to do is open up the language that people us with their home networks. Today, using the example of Comcast delivering all of your network infrastructure, they call it a planet demarcation – where the homeowners’ world begins and ends and where Comcast’s world begins and ends, and we think that’s going to blur,” he said.
That is where Minim comes in, since not all devices are equal.
“Some are more safe than others. Because not every device is automatic and secure, we do virtual patching so we can fix the software and update the software and apply network rules to prevent the device from acting badly,” said Hitchcock.
Last Christmas alone, his team of 15 employees found issues with their own personal devices that had never been reported before, “which is both exciting but also frightening that no one else has seen them,” said Hitchcock. “The right connectivity and security of all these devices is what we’re hoping to deliver on.”