Start-up of the week: Gigliotti

5 Dec 2016

Gigliotti co-founder and CEO, Fiona Levie. Image: Gigliotti

Our start-up of the week is Gigliotti, an internet of things (IoT) company targeting the hospitality sector with its Smartdrinx system.

Gigliotti started up in mid-2015 and operates in the area of IoT connected devices for the hospitality sector, producing a high-tech solution to the hotel minibar.

The company has signed deals in the Middle East worth potentially billions of dollars and shines a beacon for future Irish start-ups in the IoT world.

‘We feel privileged to be one of the forerunners in Ireland’s IoT technology space’

“The Smartdrinx System, an IoT automated beverage and snacks dispenser, in addition to being an in-room marketing and advertising platform, is set to revolutionise in-room sales by replacing the old style minibar concept in hotels with its adaptable, modular design – offering up to 60 products in each unit,” explained Fiona Levie, co-founder and CEO of Gigliotti.

The market

“We are currently targeting the hospitality sector,” Levie explained.

“We have a sales and distribution for the Middle East worth an estimated $1bn over the next five years.

“We have targeted the largest hospitality project in the world, Dubailand, which is a new build of 60,000 luxury hospitality suites plus the Dubai World Trade Expo 2020, where we will be actively involved in their new build developments.”

The founders

Levie is a published author in the field of project governance, and holds an MSc in project management from the University of Limerick. Levie has proven international experience in project, manufacturing and marketing-based companies.

Proficient in several languages, Levie has a wealth of experience in both global corporation settings and with Irish and Spanish SMEs.

Co-founder and CTO Charles Seadon studied business management at Kingston University and his IT qualifications include MCP, MCSA, MCSE and MS specialist in cloud computing.

Seadon is a seasoned commercial professional with a multidisciplinary background, and experience with three start-up businesses, from initial feasibility study to launch and profitability.

The technology

Start-up of the week: Gigliotti

Image: Gigliotti

The on-board processor, Wi-Fi and internet connectivity enables Smartdrinx to dispense a wide range of products controlled from a touch screen or supplied tablet, from any PC or smart device, via a web app or a web interface.

Included in the Smartdrinx System is a mix of cloud computing, software IP and hardware, plus the requirement to repackage products. Patent is pending with the European Patent Office.

“We have created a product with huge growth potential in the highly productised drinks industry market,” Levie explained.

“Our goal is to develop Smartdrinx into an iconic brand that reaches across both the hospitality and domestic markets.

“We want Smartdrinx to be an exciting experience for the end user, while increasing revenue for the hospitality sector.”

Connecting the IoT future

As Levie said, Gigliotti has signed a sales and distribution deal in Dubai worth an estimated $1bn over the next five years.

The Smartdrinx Systems will be placed in new-build hotels in Dubai and other key locations such as Abu Dhabi.

Emirates NBD Bank, one of the largest banks in the Middle East, has agreed to provide finance facilities for hospitality clients purchasing the Smartdrinx System.

“We have also closed on another deal worth an estimated $3.5bn over the next five years, on behalf of our associates Hospitality Future Labs LLC (HLF) from San Francisco, of which Gigliotti owns 20pc.

“HLF has devised an IoT connected-bathroom concept which has extensive water saving capabilities. This provides a saving for hotels on infrastructure and other costs.

“The timing of the HLF deal is fortuitous, given that Dubai is looking to install this very concept in new builds,” Levie said.

She said that Gigliotti is seeking Series A funding of €10m. The company attended the recent Web Summit in Lisbon as part of the the Alpha Track programme.

Bootstrapping is the hallmark of a serious start-up

Levie explained that so far, Gigliotti has been entirely self-funded.

“So we have had to seriously bootstrap everything.

“One of our biggest challenges was getting our complicated patented product packaging within the Smartdrinx unit right. This took us a few months longer than expected and slowed down production of our MVP, which is now virtually complete.

“We will start production of our first units in January 2017,” Levie added.

“The start-up scene is a very exciting and vibrant place to be right now. There are many interesting areas of new science and technology which are opening up both in bioscience, bioengineering, nanotechnology and internet of things spaces. We feel privileged to be one of the forerunners in Ireland’s IoT technology space.”

She said that right now, there is significant funding available and many successful entrepreneurs are in the market looking to fund new ventures.

“For a start-up today, as opposed to 10 years ago, seeking funding is much easier, particularly with all the new funding methods and platforms available.

“We would advise self-starters to explore all the tools at hand and tap into crowdfunding, angels and VCs across Europe and beyond.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years