An exceptional personality, Harald Zapp is a serial tech entrepreneur, business angel, and IoT innovator with more than three decades of experience in the IT and telecommunications industry.
He has successfully manifested every vision at every step of his journey. Currently, he envisions a world in which bold new companies emerge from democratized technologies capable of disrupting entire industries. His goal is to make Germany a digital hotspot for data-based B2B business models.
In 2017, Harald Zapp founded Next Big Thing AG (NBT), a Berlin-based venture studio for the Machine Economy. He also founded the leading IoT middleware brand relayr and co-founded an early NBT portfolio company, weeve.
Meet the Future-Ready Company
Next Big Thing AG (NBT) is the leading venture studio and technology provider for accelerating digital transformation and the world’s transition towards the Internet of Machines.
With its diverse portfolio of deep-tech ventures, NBT provides long-term support for aspiring founders to build highly scalable, tech-enabled businesses that deliver real-world impact, including the full range of development toolkits, innovation strategies, as well as technical expertise, and smart financing to future-proof Germany’s position as an innovation location in Europe.
An Inspiration Coming to Life
Everything starts with an idea until it becomes a reality. Similarly, the idea that led to the Next Big Thing AG was the experience (both good and bad) in building relayr back in 2013, which was successfully sold in 2018. At that time there was no ecosystem whatsoever for B2B tech startups in Germany/Europe.
No startup-oriented support (especially in terms of technology) and every step and experience had to be done alone, which took a lot of time and therefore money.
Harald always says that making a startup successful is something like “Ocean’s Eleven” – you know where to get the money, but one needs a top team of specialists in their respective fields. “Unfortunately, they are not always receptive to startups – especially in the B2B tech segment,” summons Harald.
A Dream Team Culture
Excellent team culture is what potentially stands out as a success parameter of some of the leading companies in the world. Having the same vision and coming together to achieve it is an ideal scenario. When people are respected, given a voice, and show a feeling of inclusiveness they know they have come to the right place.
Harald and the team selected Berlin as its location as it is, in his opinion, one of the greatest places in the world to find precise expertise. NBT’s workforce and portfolio companies span more than 30 countries, which speaks for itself.
Here, a wide range of individuals, cultures, and ethnicities coexist. This is evident in its workplace atmosphere as well, which is enhanced by diverse viewpoints to find purpose in work. Every employee has a voice and can contribute ideas to team success and lead by example as NBT is constantly growing. The work is done at eye level and there are flat hierarchies at Next Big Thing AG. Such a team culture is a rarity in the workplace and NBT is making the big things come into existence in every possible way.
Thinking out of the Box – Venture Studio
As mentioned at the beginning, NBT is an incubator, accelerator, and operational VC in one, which is now called “Venture Studio.” This has established itself as the leading model, and the company is taking it a step further here by focusing on the next big technology wave “IoT, DLT (Blockchain), and AI.” NBT has specialists on board exactly for these future technologies to support the ventures with their know-how.
The importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
This new class of technology that NBT is working on is emerging as a powerful enabler in many application domains, such as water and energy management, environmental monitoring, health, smart cities, smart industry, and supply chain management.
IoT has the potential to address some of the most acute human, economic, and environmental needs. It can also directly contribute to achieving the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Accordingly, the emerging IoT paradigm has the potential to create an efficient, effective, and secure ecosystem taking advantage of connected devices for managing the major global challenges faced by this, and future generations.
A Viewpoint of the Current Market Trends
From centralized to decentralized internet architectures, there will be a paradigm shift. By 2025, there will be 75 billion IoT devices, and that number is expected to expand quickly. As a result, NBT will receive a lot more data from these devices, which the company will no longer be able to process centrally. On the other hand, edge devices are becoming increasingly powerful, so they can make judgments intelligently on the spot and use the computing and storage capacity for other tasks.
Big Things are around the Corner
The Next Big Thing AG empowers people and organizations to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable world by democratizing the Internet of Machines/Things. Over the next two years, NBT will experience a lot. In addition to targeted M&As, it will keep expanding, bringing on top talents, and starting new businesses.
Every year, NBT aims to build at least 10 new ventures. Additionally, it will launch a co-investment fund, create a campus for the Internet of Machines, improve the NBT Machine Economy platform, and extend to the United States and Asia.
In addition, it is getting ready for its IPO. The company’s goals are ambitious, but NBT can certainly achieve them thanks to incredibly talented people and a strong management team by Harald’s side. NBT is pursuing an important purpose that will continue to grow in importance in the coming years.
All set for the future and in action mode, Harald concludes with a powerful quote, “Every physical object that can be digitized will be digitized and networked with others.“