Mister Beacon Episode #59

Bluetooth Smart Packaging

November 15, 2017

Water.io is a pioneer in augmenting packaging with Bluetooth sensors, opening up new user experiences and business models while giving us a preview of what is to come. We talk to Kobi Bentkovski, CEO and co-founder, about how their system works and the implications of this transformation in how products are delivered.


  • Steve Statler 00:08

    So Kobi, thanks so much for doing the podcast. We're right there breaking down the Active Intelligent Packaging Association conferences we taught there's gonna be people probably tearing down the backdrop. But I did want to talk to you because we are one of the few Bluetooth companies at this show most of its kind of wall to wall RFID and other stuff that has got nothing to do with wireless. So what are you doing at what you're doing at the show? First,

    Kobi Bentkovski 00:35

    First, I want to congratulate you for the final funding for the strategic one from Merck ventures. Also Qualcomm this is really a stamp that saying, okay, that you're really in the right direction with the right product. And I appreciate this. And I'm saying this from the position that we are also using Bluetooth.

    Steve Statler 00:54

    All boats rise. And there's been a lot of excitement about passive Bluetooth at the conference, but I don't want this to be about us. I'd like love it to be about you. But we really appreciate those comments. And I think what you're doing is super interesting because you're making packaging more intelligent. How do you do that?

    Kobi Bentkovski 01:15

    Okay, so we are really doing this using Bluetooth this is for the beginning, but what are what are yo is doing a internet of packaging platform, which says that the packages are becoming smart and becoming also active. So compared to other NFC or RFID system, these packages are active, because on the application that we see that something that go to consumer packaged goods CPG is market needs to be active, you don't want the customer that using the package or taking his pills or, or need to replenish his liquid detergent, we started to take his phone and tap or scan or capture one time a day, two times, three times a day because he take his pills, you want it to be transparent, you want it to work flawless, so you want it really was good and it was going and you wanted to work with the things that you're using everyday which is your smartphone that is equipped with with a Bluetooth and you can work nearby the product or put it phone even even internet in your pocket, it still synchronize with the package still notify you when when something is running out. And you don't need to do from your point of view. And I think and this is why we decided to select Bluetooth, although there will be many noises when we established the company where as you know, we're startup companies, why are not using NFC Why not NFC, the price position or other thing?

    Steve Statler 02:42

    So NFC is cheaper. But it relies on the user to do a bunch of stuff and it doesn't seem like a lot to tap. But I think we found that anytime you ask users to do anything then success starts to drift away. So you have it's so this is this bits a little regular water bottle and it's the cat that has a Bluetooth radio and is that true of that as well, that's got a Bluetooth radio in the.

    Kobi Bentkovski 03:11

    Yeah, this is this is a liquid laundry detergent. Okay, yes. Yeah, this one is the water one. This one is the like everybody know, the Henkel or the personal look at data that this is again this is a smart cap that can monitor each time that you are running a wash and it's you closing the cap the cap knows that you have been using the package it measure how much it is used each wash it's transferred to our platform the internet of packaging platform that using algorithm can estimate using AI estimate when it's going to run out and then report it to your to your app and say okay, you want to replenish you want to reorder another one we can handle it using regular ecommerce one.

    Steve Statler 03:58

    So you have a Bluetooth radio yeah and I just saw a light go off so it's actually confirming it's registered something How did it know I took the cap off?

    Kobi Bentkovski 04:08

    Okay, so first of all, you can see that the it's knows he knows that you took the cap off you put the cap back know that you put it back on the table and it will measure how much water was consumed from.

    Steve Statler 04:23

    So you infer consumption by the number of times the cap was.

    Kobi Bentkovski 04:27

    No, we are really measuring measuring the water level. So yeah, we have unique technology that measure the height of the level of the water or the level of the liquid detergent or even count pills or different sensor and we really turning the packages to become smart. You can see if you open the cap you see the sensor that is measuring.

    Steve Statler 04:48

    So what if I drink this will will I get?

    Kobi Bentkovski 04:51

    Yeah, that's a good one.

    Steve Statler 04:53

    It's okay. I can just drink it.

    Kobi Bentkovski 04:54

    Yeah, you can drink it. Take along sip. Okay, we're gonna get the measurement. So to see that now it's detects not very good. It detects and it's wait for the water to be stable.

    Steve Statler 05:19

    Oh my goodness.

    Kobi Bentkovski 05:20

    Yeah. And the label is 350. At this level, this is 250. And we got strength.

    Steve Statler 05:29

    It's incredible. Yeah, that's incredible. And you get, you can track how much you're you're drinking every day you can put your portfolio. This is such a good idea that you can put your present, I should drink more water. I know it's good for me. And for whatever reason, I just don't do it.

    Kobi Bentkovski 05:44

    Lately, we ran a few pilots and one of them was showing that people are really taking a look and look or in the app more than seven times a day to look the dehydrated. And they even consume 20, almost 20% more because of the because of the the technology because of the reminder, also our cap is reminding by blinking. Yeah, leaking, remind you that you didn't drink enough.

    Steve Statler 06:12

    So you're helping the world to be more hydrated. Yeah. And if I'm in the business of selling water bottles, then this is useful. Yeah. And I would think with detergent, which costs a lot more than water, it's even more valuable.

    Kobi Bentkovski 06:25

    Yeah, this is one more valuable than no one likes to grab this from the supermarket. And that is quite heavy. This is even the small one, when you take a two liter three liter, it's really heavy. And this is one a business case of replenish will also other businesses for for a medicine, for example that remind you to track that we order you let's say for example in a homecare people that are continuing to get their medicines every every week or every month it needs to reorder it. So there are many opportunities to make product smart and really going. And really, we think that we are going to change the market.

    Steve Statler 07:07

    So where are you seeing the best ROI? Because it seems to me that maybe pharmaceuticals would be really compelling because I'm getting value as a consumer. But as a pharma company, obviously I want to, I want people to take their meds a because I want to sell more meds, and B if they don't, then they're not going to get well and it's going to make me look bad. And I'm sure the doctors want that as well. Because they're being measured more on outcomes and maybe even being paid on outcomes eventually. But the flip side is farmer is like full of regulations and that sort of thing. Are you have you hit that obstacle on his farm or the best application?

    Kobi Bentkovski 07:52

    No, not every let's say that every vertical has its own outcry or its own benefits. For example, in the farmer, even the insurance company would like you to have something that remind you and track that you really took your pills because otherwise you will hospitalized hospitalized again. But the different vertical, one of the main thing that we see all over all over this so also the farmer or the consumer package good everything that we are the one the supplies data to the brand owners, okay, besides giving you the benefits, for example, for the for take your peers or keeping your hydration and your health. So we're giving data to the brands himself, then no one of them has till now know who is the customer is the first time they know who is the customer for the bottle? Who is the customer for the replenish one?

    Steve Statler 08:40

    And these are the companies that actually have the money, the retailers, they don't have any money. It's all raised.

    Kobi Bentkovski 08:44

    Yeah, retail is a box some kind of box movers. But yeah, the brand owners, they missing the Google, they missed the gap of what Google or Facebook have today have the data about who who is using the product, who is the customers who is who's searching, for example. And consumer packaged goods don't have these data, they have only the back of the customer that is buying it in the supermarket. From that point, they don't know anything.

    Steve Statler 09:09

    So I guess I'm just trying to think what useful data they get, obviously, getting to sell you something when you've finished it is very useful. I guess they depending on the app, they may know something about you if you've registered with Facebook, then maybe they have a sense of who you are. And then they can look at your consumption by whatever the dimensions are, what data is interesting to brands?

    Kobi Bentkovski 09:34

    Brands want to know and the basic thing. First of all, what is the profile of the user that is using the product, how they're using the product, how they can improve, improve the product and everything is moving today to e commerce. So the few giants that are controlling the E commerce which is Amazon that we know a little bit Walmart is playing there and we go knows about Tesco but and the brand Hands themselves are tied. Because the data is at Amazon the data is, and maybe it's a Google, but don't know, don't want. So we are closing the gap because he gave bring him the data, giving them the ability to run the E commerce and clannish and no one was the customer and also suggest them direct engagement with the customer. This is something that Amazon is doing. They on daily basis, Google is doing it daily basis, and Facebook, and others doing daily basis. But the the companies that are manufactured billions of products every day, which can be cosmetics, pharma, beverages, detergent, anything, I don't know, who is the customer, and what value they can bring directly to them with engagement.

    Steve Statler 10:43

    So this is a fundamental change in the dynamics of retailing. How do the retailers feel about this? Are you getting any pushback from retailers who are kind of getting proprietary that they feel like you're enabling an end drum?

    Kobi Bentkovski 10:58

    Currently, we're more in contact with the brands. And the brands are really surprised about this technology, and are eager to move on. And what we're doing in the, in the let's say in the last year is working with brands, and moving through them into a step by step by proof of concept being some small pilot medium, and then medium pilot and then going into the market. We have products that are going to be in the market and next year. And this is really excited from the point of view that suddenly they are able to see a dashboard, where the customer is located, how they're using the product, how much they're using the each product. So it's really exciting. This is really exciting. I think that all these domain is really exciting also for you, because everything is changing.

    Steve Statler 11:45

    Absolutely so it sounds like you're at the POC stage. And in terms of your coverage, you're an Israeli company. As a way I just happen to have a British accent. So is most of the pilots, are they going on in Israel? Or are they going out? All around the world?

    Kobi Bentkovski 12:06

    Now we have we have customers in Israel, but Israel, Israel is more known for the r&d. And we have all the innovation and r&d teams that are in Israel, but most of our clients are global brands that we are all familiar with. Which I cannot say their names. But and and these we are going internationally with this product.

    Steve Statler 12:30

    Well that's fantastic. I think you really hit on something I congratulate you. I love that demo. And thanks for squeezing us in at the end of this conference.

    Kobi Bentkovski 12:40

    Yeah, it was. We've been quite busy. But you succeeded at the end. And yeah, yeah. And I'm very happy that, you know, you took the point of willing to take the point of the technology, and trying to take this to the next step. And I'm for sure, I hope because we are also in Israel and your r&d and this will, we will hope to be the first customer that implement a product.

    Steve Statler 13:04

    Fantastic. Well, I appreciate it very much. Thanks.

    Kobi Bentkovski 13:06

    Thank you.

    Steve Statler 13:07

    Cheers. So did you have a chance to think about what three songs you want to take to Mars?

    Kobi Bentkovski 13:16

    Yeah, trying to analyze what would be nice to go there. If you have a ticket.

    Steve Statler 13:24

    I think Richard Branson's already got the website up and running. You can you can look around, and for some reason, the music's not working and you can only take vinyl so.

    Kobi Bentkovski 13:33

    Okay, so I think two out of the three are real vinyl. Okay. One is the David boy. Space it's a classic one. The other one is also vinyl. It's It's the Final Countdown of the Europe. Yeah, we don't look younger. So we know.

    Steve Statler 14:01

    Doesn't the game so we know about this dating me but I am 55 So that is my

    Kobi Bentkovski 14:06

    Okay. I I look young because I was flipping the refrigerator but looks alright. And the third one is Sky Full of Stars, Coldplay.

    Steve Statler 14:17

    Oh, fantastic. Now I saw Coldplay in San Diego recently and they had the most amazing wireless technology. I don't know whether it was ZigBee or Bluetooth, but they have these bracelets everyone in the audience.

    Kobi Bentkovski 14:31

    That's amazing. That's amazing. I saw this in YouTube. That's amazing. I have this facility to do it in one shot. Everything is working.

    Steve Statler 14:40

    What was most interesting wireless applications. Next to this one.