ConnectFree fundraises for making everything around you connected with a tiny chip



See also the original story in Japanese.

Japan-based American serial entrepreneur Kristopher Tate has developed many web services to date. I’ve used many of them including AM6 (morning news delivery service co-developed with Beatrobo co-founder Hiroshi Asaeda) and (tether enabling service for tether-free smartphone handsets without requiring jailbreak). These services have shut down due to some reasons. Kristopher subsequently moved to Kyoto, so I’ve been curious about his next product launch.

Kristopher Tate
Kristopher Tate

And we have a news update about him. ConnectFree, the startup that Kristopher has been running, announced today that it has fundraised from Japanese VC firm East Ventures. Details of the investment have not yet been disclosed but he will use the funds raised to disrupt the IoT (Internet of Things) space.

We’ve seen several different approaches aimed at motivating people to develop more connected devices by eliminating obstacles. A big problem is that many software engineers are not familiar with how to develop hardware devices. Our readers may recall that London-based Berg has unveiled such a service to accelerate the IoT space where software and hardware products intersect.

Kristopher told us what differentiates his project from other solutions like Berg, despite the fact that his project is in stealth mode:

Berg uses their cloud-based technology to absorb what typical hardware startups are not good at. But we will take a different way because that approach cannot guarantee the sustainability and the security level of your service since it’s dependent on the cloud. We will develop a chip to be embedded in your device so that it can guarantee an end-to-end secure communication between your device and your web-based system.

Similarly to browsing SSL-enabled websites using a proxy server, if you use the cloud to connect your device with your web service, it cannot guarantee a secured communication between the both sides with each other. But this approach has been a usual tactic to ease the development of connected devices, where it is difficult for convenience and high security to co-exist.

In my recent discussion with our IoT-focused contributor Yasunori Okajima, he told me that security issues in the IoT space have not received much attention, but he believes there are huge opportunities out there. We have no idea how Kristopher will make it all possible with only a tiny chip, but he can definitely make it happen with a great idea, which the average person like me can never come up with.