‘Tom made us understand what customers are looking for in our product. He helped us communicate about our product differently, from the customer’s perspective.’
LESS Industries began as a group of friends at the University of Buenos Aires. The start-up develops IoT solutions that, combined with AI, give its customers remote ears, eyes and feelers, so to speak, allowing them to make better decisions. After just under eight years, LESS operates on three continents in various sectors.
In the Point IoT innovation competition, they emerged victorious. During this process, BEACON partner Tom Stefels was their mentor. From his Polish base in Gdansk, co-founder Sebastian Cerone talks about the program and the growth of their company. ‘Tom made us understand what customers are looking for in our product. He helped us communicate about our product in a different way, from the customer’s perspective.’
What does LESS do?
‘We help companies monitor their assets in real time and remotely, even if they are spread over long distances. We install Internet-connected sensors that collect data on such things as motion, rotation, light intensity, flow rate, pressure, humidity, wind force, CO2 and salinity. The monitoring system that combines this data can be easily read on a computer and generates alerts using predictive analytics. That allows agricultural companies to keep an eye on the quality of their grain in grain silos, power companies can check the status of their miles of power lines, and port companies have continuous real-time information on water levels.’
Sebastian Cerone (left) and Sebastian Garcia Marra (right), co-founders of LESS
What did the competition bring you?
“We were very happy with the €20,000 prize, but for us the most important thing was the knowledge we could get from the program. We focused on mentoring Tom. There was immediate chemistry. He is super smart and experienced and knows what he is talking about. We talked a lot and I absorbed all his knowledge. I was impressed with his mental focus and dedication. Thanks to Tom, we identified who our key stakeholders are. He asked us to talk all about how to interact and communicate with our customers. After just a few days, he came back to me and said, “I found a pattern, you guys should shift your focus.” We were always trying to give as complete a picture as possible of what our product could do. That was a pretty complicated story with technical drawings. Tom showed us that it’s more effective to make it small, making people understand what the problem is. He made us understand what our customers are looking for and how our product can help them. We now make our added value visible from the customer’s perspective.’
How has LESS grown?
‘Our first product was monitoring grain silos. We developed a smart sensor that activated an alarm when quality deteriorated. After four years, we wanted to expand our service and started focusing on environmental issues, with solutions for saving water, energy and food. So we started monitoring irrigation systems, which allowed us to alert farmers if there was a problem somewhere. At a presentation I gave at the University of Chile, someone from an energy transportation company came up to me. He asked if we could also place our sensors on power lines. Apparently it was common for cables to be stolen, become loose due to wind, or catch fire. Many people were left without power as a result. Someone then had to go there in a car to see where the problem was in order to replace the cable. That cost a lot of money. After a few trials, we knew we could put sensors on the cables. This became the start of yet another new application: Sentrisense. In a similar way, we started measuring water levels, using sensors along rivers to warn of floods, for example.’
What is your strength?
‘Our main advantage is flexibility. That’s how we create our product as a whole. We design the hardware, the software, the apps, and we have the flexibility to easily turn what we do into a new product. I like to compare it to a game. You can wait until you have the best cards, but you can also make the best of the cards you have. We always look at: what cards do we have? And how can we use them to succeed as a company? So far, that has worked.’
What is your goal?
“When we at university began to suspect that IoT was going to become a staple in the world, we put together a small team of friends and a teacher. Our main goal was to create an environment where we could work on something we enjoyed. That goal has been met; it is a great pleasure to be able to work with each other like this. Our communication is uncomplicated and not hierarchical, and we have been working remotely since the beginning. By now we are quite spread out, we have people in Argentina, Australia, Spain, Germany and France. We have also scaled up our ambitions, we want to continue growing into a stable company with clients from multiple sectors. Just in case there is a crisis or something is going to fail. Because that’s something we as Argentines always take into account.’Back to overview