Mister Beacon Episode #129
Kontakt.io Update, IoT & Smart BuildingMay 04, 2021
This week we are excited to have Rom Eizenberg, Chief Revenue Officer and an industry veteran with 15+ years of experience in IoT, on the podcast. It has been three years since Kontakt.io’s last appearance on the podcast, and Rom is here to shed some light on what they have been up to and their achievements in the previous few years. Tune in to learn about their latest product, Portal Beam, and to hear Rom’s answer to the loaded question, ‘Has IoT been successful?’.
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Steve Statler 00:18
Welcome to the Mr. Beacon Podcast. Wonderful to have you back. hope everyone's doing well. We are continuing our journey through the land of the Internet of Things, checking in with some old friends at Kontakt.io. I'm really pleased to have Rom Eizenberg is the chief Revenue Officer for Kontakt.io on the show today. Rom, welcome to the show.
Rom Eizenberg 00:44
Hi, good to be here.
Steve Statler 00:45
So Kontakt.io are no stranger to the Mr. beacon podcast. Your original CEO, I was just checking was on the show, or one of our first guests back in July of 2016. It's kind of dating so a little bit. And then Philip your currency, I had a really fun conversation with him back at RFID. Journal live in 2017. We were experimenting with a 360 degree camera at the time. So it was for the people that watch it on YouTube. That was a bit strange, but it was a really good conversation. I really, it's been a long time since we've spoken Kontakt.io are massive in terms of your presence in this indoor positioning and rtls ecosystem, one of the first pioneers. And so what I want to do in, in this conversation is check in on, you know, what's been happening since 2017. What are the offerings, and I'm really interested in your perspective on IoT, in general, business models, value trends, all of that sort of thing. But let's just ground people on the basics of for someone who doesn't know Kontakt.io, who is Kontakt.io?
Rom Eizenberg 02:08
so Kontakt.io is coming from the device, side of the business, and we used to be one of the top three beacon manufacturers in the world, which means that we were instrumental in the early days of IoT in creating building infrastructure that transmits that's enabled, so supports mobile phones, mostly, among other devices, to localize themselves inside of buildings. So you will see Kontakt.io beacons if you fly out of JFK, in New York. And if you land in SFO in San Francisco, you will also see our beacons on the other side, over 50 airports, over 1000 application partners, more than 20,000 end users have been deploying our product around the world and then mostly in North American Europe as things over the last two years, a lot have changed. We have been growing very, very fast. Just last year, we more than doubled our employee count. We are moving from just providing components to providing more of the solution. Still, without the application layer system and enablement layer. But we are working together with some very large partners like Cisco, like IBM to drive the first enterprise IoT standards, and to move this industry from, you know, point solutions to problems type of an approach that was pretty widespread over the first decade of IoT to truly scalable enterprise infrastructures, that lends itself to many use cases that are vendor agnostic, that really remove barriers to adoption that we have been seeing over the last 10 to 15 years. And we see a host of companies, right? We are not alone in that. And that's great. That's fine. Right? There are a lot of barriers. There are a lot of glass ceilings that have been being you know, smashed over the past 12 to 24 months even I would say that that are now enabling growth and adoption in equity markets like like never before. And this is coming from the 15 year IoT veteran. So I've been around in my since. So so it's a very exciting time, both for context, I think and for the industry as a whole.
Steve Statler 04:47
So can I still buy just the hardware, I've got some of your iconic beacons back in the cupboard. They're the kind of Aztec pyramid tapered edges. If I want those, you sell a few different form factors. Now you were one of the first with the Hub's I remember, can I still display the hard way?
Rom Eizenberg 05:09
To? Yes, sure you can. The good news is that if you buy this hardware, it will connect to the wireless infrastructure where it's ble enabled. So the access point element in ble, for right now covering half of the public spaces on the planet, so you're getting a product that talks to phones and does the job that he did before, but it can be managed by cloud, it can be connected and monitored and provisioned, using in many cases, the infrastructure you will already have.
Steve Statler 05:47
So what does that mean, the infrastructure I already have is the Wi Fi network.
Rom Eizenberg 05:52
Steve Statler 05:53
So it's aware of the Wi Fi networks have specific venues, so I don't quite understand.
Rom Eizenberg 05:58
So. So access points today. And for delay, actually, many people just don't know. But they have been buying ble or Bluetooth Low Energy enabled access points. And now for quite a few years, they think in the case of Meraki for example, six years of access points, all came out with a Bluetooth radio, which means that the right the infrastructure you bought and installed, so your laptops and phones can use Wi Fi to connect to the internet. And that very same infrastructure is already capable in connecting 1000s and 10s of 1000s of devices of sensors within your buildings. And in many cases, it just requires you to subscribe and activate these capabilities. In others do some dongle or some extension that you need to add if your access point is very old. But but that layer of infrastructure, if we can simplify its delivery, or use something you already have, that we are making your as drive to end users capacity to adopt the pains, the time the cost of becoming an IoT player, significantly less. This is this is kind of great news for all of us.
Steve Statler 07:17
I see this kind of two foundational use cases, there's indoor positioning, and then there's rtls. There's kind of where am I? And how do I get to where I want to go on one hand. And then there's where's all my stuff where all my wheelchairs in the airport or IV pumps in the hospital? That's the rtls side. In the case of indoor positioning, why would I want my beacons to be talking to those Wi Fi access points, it's kind of a management thing to monitor the state update the firmware, that sort of thing. That's that's the that's the benefit.
Rom Eizenberg 07:57
When a cell tower gets hit by lightning, at&t needs to know or varizen, right, they need to know because otherwise, the quality of service and an entire block of a country is dropped and people will lose their calls, it's the same inside of the building, this infrastructure is moving from nice to have to a must have to something that default come to count on. And when that happens that of course you need to manage you need to configure these devices, you need to know if they're down. You sometimes want to enhance capabilities. Also, many of these devices that were used initially just to beacon or to help for navigate, can now do more things. For example, monitor the air quality, the temperature, air pressure, we can tell you if you need to, if you have a ventilation problem in the office, we can monitor carbon monoxide and light contributing to you know, building carbon footprint management. All of this becomes a mosaic of building signals that you want to collect and aggregate and then monetize will make available. I think bringing it all together is the network that what happens in the edge is a lot more busy and reach and reach full reach of features than it was ever before.
Steve Statler 09:30
Okay. That makes sense. So I want to give people a picture of the different hardware products that you have. And then we'll work up the stack and talk a bit about the solutions business and how that fits in with other partners where the boundaries are that sort of thing. So you still have the indoor positioning beacons, but it's not just a matter of having a beacon that helps you with Wayfinding. It's also an Environmental sensing potentially, that can be achieved in these spaces, maybe we'll we'll move to the I guess the, you have the ID tags, right? This sort of the putting tags on on people, is that right? Maybe I should hand over to you give us the give us the summary of all the hardware things, and then maybe we'll end up with portable beam. And because that's kind of a big new thing, I'd like to spend a bit of time on that.
Rom Eizenberg 10:32
So you can imagine the IoT solution stack, like a sandwich, three layers, on the bottom, you have IoT devices. And we try to provide a broad variety of those simply to make the lives of our end users simple. So you can get form factors for a very small equip pieces of equipment, like an infusion pump in a hospital or a laptop. You can have ragged tags that you can track. I don't know construction equipment, or oil and gas type of large, bulky, industrial type of equipments. We have devices that have buttons that have motion sensors, we have devices that monitor temperature in farmer refrigerators, for example. So so broad spectrum of IoT devices. One thing that unites them all is that they ran over Bluetooth five, they implement our kind of enterprise standard security, we can carry payload over the year, so so not as limiting as ibeacon is, but still vendor agnostic is derivate. For standard. So variety, here is the name of the game. And I'm saying that with a grain of salt, because we tell our customers, hey, if you don't find what we have here, we have a great product from really it, we have great products from other vendors. And some of them are our competitors. The point is to best solve the problem not for us to sell another, you know, piece of piece of hardware. So we try to serve as that variety. For our customers, some of our products, we are augmenting the radio. So the BLE Bluetooth Low Energy, wireless technology with non radio technology to enhance location, in our case, infrared. And the advantage of infrared is it doesn't slide so it doesn't penetrate through walls. And as such, we can deliver room level certainty which is required in some use cases, mostly when you attract people inside of buildings.
Steve Statler 12:38
So what does this infrared product look like? That's, can you drill into that a bit more.
Rom Eizenberg 12:44
So you have infrared tags. So So the way this this basically works is that the tag itself has an IR sensor similar to the sensor you have in your maybe television? Yeah, it's a simple IR sensor, it's turns on when it is a strong IR light, and it receives an ID, and then it puts it on the RF package and sends it to the cloud. So it will basically say, Hey, I am Steve, Stan, and adjust. So in IR infrared ad 101 on the cloud knows that you so if you saw it, then you must be in room 101. And that I mean, just just to help the viewers understand the logic we know where you are by because we are triangulating your employee badges signal, just really we do that we will tell you that in which room you are within, let's say 90% of the time, we will make some errors we might put you in the next room. And most of the time and when you are tracking assets, that's fine. 90% of the time in the right room is pretty accurate. Let's say it's better than you know, six feet. On average. That's pretty good. But there are use cases where it's not good enough. If a nurse walked into your room, and then the nurse walked out and walked into my room, we need to see that she standardized her enhance in between. and for that we need to be super accurate, we can make little silly mistakes that we can when you're maybe you're tracking assets in some lab or you know a warehouse situation. So infrared helps in those scenarios. And we are using it to augment to add on top of the radio location of the indoor location to drive accuracy in some use cases. So we do things like that,
Steve Statler 14:35
then that can be it's challenging to do that with radio waves because the wall can be very thin it could be a temporary wall in a conference room could be plasterboard wall separating two hospital rooms and so the IR doesn't penetrate and the radio waves do when you use the you use the IR when you don't want it to penetrate and you can use the radio waves when you when you do that makes sense. I had one very specific question about how do you put a reader in a fridge does that that just really caught my imagination. So you can have you sell a reader that will go in fridges that can read what?
Rom Eizenberg 15:15
Well, monitoring the temperature right? In the concern here is a little bit the fridge itself, and you can eliminate a lot of false positive support calls where the temperature is dropping. And because maybe the fridge is open, you can see based on the temperature fluctuations, whether you're short on you know, in maybe in shrim, gas and your compressor, but but the key driver is, of course, to protect the contents of the fridge. So if what you have in the fridge, Coca Cola cans, it's probably not a big deal. If what you have is atropine drugs, a single refrigerators, contents can be worth a million dollars. So, and of course, the availability of the drug to administer care. So some fridge is more valuable than others. That's just a popular use case. We monitor a variety of different, you know, machine equipment, parameters, some of them we do with our own sensors, I think that what gets me really excited is now seeing a lot of traditional industrial vendors that make refrigerators that make we mentioned infusion pumps, right, the guy that did the fact that the vendor that makes the infusion pump, they are starting to include Bluetooth radios, on their devices, they're starting to allow the devices to connect without having us having to tell them to add add a device. So if you want, you know, one of my favorite ways to explain what we do is we create mobile phones for things we do we take the box and we give it a communication device where you can tell us where it is or if it's moving, or what the temperature inside and so on. And we're seeing more and more devices coming to market that already have these capabilities embedded in and that's great, right? It's it drives the growth and adoption. So so we love
Steve Statler 17:14
And last question on fridges as the so are you battery powering powering those? How do you get the power to your fridge monitoring device?
Rom Eizenberg 17:22
Yeah, but the battery powered Bluetooth Low Energy, as its name suggests, is over efficient. And typically, you know, if a Wi Fi tag would give you about three years of battery life, measuring temperature every five minutes, then your typical ble tag will measure the temperature every five seconds. And we'll give you six, seven, even eight years of battery life. So from a total cost of ownership standpoint, that makes customer's life a lot a lot easier. Because it increases the longevity reduces the cost of service and no failures and complexities. That that's all good. And it's part of technology maturing. Right. You know, I was starting to say, you know, I've been playing in this market for 1015 years. So yes, we see technology mature and it can do things that it could never do before. Which which which is great, right? It helps.
Steve Statler 18:16
Okay, very good. And what is portal beam?
Rom Eizenberg 18:20
So portal beam, in many senses is the result of the frustration of the sales guy with the the complexity and the you know, the reality of capturing building signals. And I think we started talking about portal beam. We were sitting in a we work, rented conference room. So we rented this room to brainstorm because we're all traveling. And we're sitting in the room and like good IoT people. The first thing an IoT guy does when he walks into the room, we look up at the ceiling, we scan the ceiling. So what's installed here, and it took us three minutes to see six boxes. We closed the door we climbed on the chair, we started to rip them up. And sorry we work we didn't damage anything. And one was an occupancy infrared sensor with Laura lan 900 megahertz backhaul. The second one was a temperature sensor with ZigBee 2.4 gigahertz backhaul. The third one was another motion sensor. Obviously someone swapped vendors in the middle, this one was Wi Fi. And you look at this and there are all of these devices in the wall and one is light and one is occupancy and one is temperature and the other one is there must be a better way. Now the thing is what's hiding behind the stories at all of these different sensors, not just that they create wireless interference, and they create this this collisions because of frequencies and non managed mess in the ether, but they're also reporting the data, their data into silos. The JCI controller on the wall that controls the temperature in this room knows what is the temperature, just nobody else does. And just the AC unit, the H fac. But if we want to extract knowledge from heat mapping of this building, so we can say something about carbon footprinting about how it fluctuates during the day, hours of the day, if you want to map it to how many people were in the room. And if you understand that, we just can't tag everybody with a blue to start with some of our employees. Yes, visitors may be, but it just can't be everything, then there must be a better way. Right? That's that's the starting point, there must be a better way. And when we said to the drawing board, we realized that we can pack nine different IoT sensors, almost everything you might want to know about the inside of your building, that we can combine different technologies into a single box, and that box can run on batteries. So you don't need to run run power, which is funny because you know, if you are an IoT guy, then you know that running the power for the gateways that connect the network costs more money than the entire project, including the hardware, the software, the services, everything else, because less money than just running the power. So if we have network that is, let's say Cisco, right access point driven also other other vendors have some solutions, not as sophisticated, but almost all my fi guys have a network if the network is in place, and if I can walk into a room and touch a small device on the ceiling, and it's self installed center of the room, you don't need to be an RF engineer. And if this device runs on batteries, and gives me five years of battery life, and if it can tell me how many people are in the room, and what is the temperature and the humidity in the air pressure and the air quality and is there light or dark, and there's a carbon monoxide gases, almost everything you can imagine if this device can also begin because right Kontakt.io your way we got to help those phones, it can be can help devices, like mobile phones into navigate. And we can add an infrared beacon so we can create room level certainty. And we can marry all of these fantastical everything that you would ever know that that right that fantasy list of smart building LTE features into a small box, that is about $200 in mass market price that runs for five years of batteries, so you don't need to faff around with tearing apart or servicing the batteries. Then if this box can be cloud managed. And if there is some machine that can pull this data in and mind his data and analyze and learn his data, maybe using machine learning or AI tools, in what we are really buying is not the sensor, or the box that you put on the wall, you're buying the API, you're buying the stream that quantifies your ability. And if we can do all of those things, and stop selling hardware and selling API's and making it all really simple and affordable, then maybe we can we can make a positive change in the industry. So so that's Yes, your your that's what we're excited about these days.
Steve Statler 23:35
So sounds like the $200 for the books, which I was expecting something much bigger after your long explanation of all the things that were in it. It's very comprehensive. I was expecting it to be more it sounds like that's more of a loss leader and the the or at least not the not, it's the foundation for your revenue model, not the be all and end all. What what are the services that you sell on top of that? Assuming those are the things that are the real strategic value from your perspective, and maybe from the customers perspective as well.
Rom Eizenberg 24:11
I mean, firstly, remind customers that we are nothing we are not losing money on these devices. So So when many customers worry and want to pay me more because they're concerned. Don't worry. We have excellent profit margins. Maybe it's a hint that if you're paying a lot more to other devices, they are unfairly priced that my CFO is not complaining. But yes, we are selling, we're selling basically building streams, then we are doing that. Think think Twitter, right, instead of us giving you a firehose type of API, which is the traditional IoT approach, where we just bombard you with money. Billions of events every second, we calculate the location of everything. And we let you know, every second we sample the temperature of everything. And we let you know. Instead of doing that, in having realized that a lot of our customers legacy systems are just not capable in consuming all of this raw data, you mean you can we will make it available Of course, but but typically we provide a waterfall. So you can subscribe to a Twitter feed or a slack feed or a web hooks, right application kind of nature, it's NTP connection, but you can subscribe to a channel. And we will push events into those channels that interests you. You by you, I mean the application. So whether you're a visitor management, or you are a facility space planning, or you are a security evacuation command center, we will you can subscribe on different channels that quantifies different elements of the building. For example, you can ask us, I want to know the working time between an office in the 22nd floor and the lobby. If I want to go out for lunch, how much time do I have to wait for the elevator? We can give you ways like capabilities inside of a building, because we know how people move, right? Because we are using infrared cameras heat seeking cameras to basically count people as they come in and out of offices if they come in and out of floors. But you don't usually you can ask me, you know, what is the occupancy of the third floor. But you can also ask me, elevator writing time from the 23rd floor to the lobby, I can tell you that in my wife and my wife's University. She's a professor in the in New York. In Parsons, it takes her 25 minutes to get to class when she walks in the lobby at nine. But we discovered that if she walks in at 830, it only takes seven minutes. Why? Because the entire building right? Or the students show up at 949 10. Class beginning? Is it interesting for you? We hope I am I am adamant that I'm stuck in that motion that guys in Google in Apple, putting a GPS in the phone, we're never thinking about Uber. And one of the things that we are now the most excited about is not our own solutions is actually the enormous ecosystem of partners of application developers that are taking this data and building all kinds of cool experiences that we never imagined. Right? But but they're making a positive impact for users.
Steve Statler 27:44
So how is it seems like there's lots of different services that you sell? Is this a subscription? If I want to buy that weighs service? How much does that cost?
Rom Eizenberg 27:59
So So our our baseline pricing says that there is a price per room or almost right a price per square foot, if we are covering the entire building. And it's a fixed price, and you can consume any and all of the API's that we provide it then you can cut those down to single data channels. And you say, yeah, you know, I only care about this. And then you know, there's some price segregation, and of course, you paid less. So So usually, it's rare that one of that we have customers that by only a single data pipe, there's probably, you know, three or four departments or users within our customer organization that want to consume this data into their different applications. I mentioned some examples, right, the security chief, the facility manager. And And when we do that, we typically bundle a set of building API's to give you a vanilla price point. So I'm not avoiding your question, say, you know, in the range of a $100 per room per year gives you more or less everything
Steve Statler 29:18
makes sense. And who are you talking about the applications? Sounds like you're starting to become like the App Store for the physical world. What what are the apps that you know, the biggest apps that are driving the consumption of your services? Are there specific apps that I would recognize or should recognize?
Rom Eizenberg 29:42
I think, you know, a lot of this is new and we just launched this product two months ago. But you know, to give you some examples, IBM said try Riga that does, you know, facility management is kind of, I don't know, Chase Ci, these vendors have have interesting applications as or more around building management. So this is the the enterprise approach that we are working with people that do targeted, you know, marketing notifications, safety applications, like, you know, there is a fire, how should they evacuate the building issue they go from the north stairs to the south, just depends where the smoke is. So I would like to know. But personally, I am I'm mostly excited right now about more consumer flavored use cases that invade the enterprise space. So for example, environmental monitoring, right? Maybe it's COVID. Maybe it's just a US increasing awareness. I can't say that. But we are seeing a lot of interest in you know, at home, I have this sensor that monitors air quality, because, you know, I get allergies. When when result of Poland in there. So so I want to know, air particles, I get to the office and ask myself, Yeah, why? Why? Why can they have a SMART Office? Like I have a smart home? Why not anybody monitoring my office environment? I want to know if I'm here breathing clean air, or if my co workers in this building, where are the feet, the windows never open. more awareness, I think more maturity of smart home use cases, start this reverse invasion from from consumer to enterprise. And employees now have new demands, right? They come to the office, they want to feel safe. And and creating these new experiences is really interesting for me. So I think environmental monitoring is a new area, it was always there in the in the corner of your vision, someone was monitor temperature, but not much more. And now we can we can talk about a much richer data set. And I think that, you know, consumer, as I said, applications are driving new, interesting enterprise. So that's kind of one corner that I'm particularly in kind of excited around these days.
Steve Statler 32:13
Very interesting. I'd love to see how those applications emerge that cross between the enterprise and the consumer. So I'm interested in the boundaries of what you do, and you don't do so it sounds like you don't really see yourselves as an app company that you want to support third parties that do that, how do you dance with the giants that control the infrastructure? So Cisco have recently launched DNA spaces, which encompasses the kind of the classic Cisco and Cisco Meraki. They're a partner of yours as well. In fact, I think we're going to have them on this show. To talk a bit about what they're doing. I'm really interested to know what the boundary is between what they do and what you do.
Rom Eizenberg 33:08
I mean, when we were starting to talk with Cisco about partnering, and we realized that this is a very deep embedded partnership, it would be hard for us to work with all the network vendors at the same time. So we were kind of looking at the industry realistically, of course, Cisco is the 900 pound gorillas, they are larger than the sum of their all of their competitors combined. But we were a lot more interested in their vision. Because what companies like Aruba and NIST did is they basically said IoT is one directional is we don't care about managing the network. It's a side gig for us. So we also do something like that. But nobody, I mean, a robot missed all of these guys. They're not taking care of edge device security, they're not taking care of the density of a lot of devices. And now you manage your network, which they do on Wi Fi. And in IoT, where you have actually a lot more devices, they completely neglected that side of the business. And they were, we felt that it was this early stage opportunistic approach. Cisco was the first vendor that's put their foot down and said no, if we do it, we do it proper. And we build an entire schema of how IoT can scale how we move from a payload that's very exciting to everybody to you know, millions of devices, a lot more devices than we have on the Wi Fi network, right? Almost 10 to one ratio, and connect the physical world to the internet. Because this is what we do. And we brought to the table expertise in the device world. Those are unique networks. They are synchronous, these devices are not called So we brought a lot of that kind of expertise, we have been working with a lot of these vendors in the past. And and we decided that we were we were doing a very tight kind of go to market integration with with Cisco. And we're very excited and you know about the results, you can already see that the impact of that go to market motion is taking over. So Cisco I think was the last six months. And I, I don't have the numbers, even if I want to share which I showed them that I don't have it. But my my impression is that over the last six months, there's probably we've been able to do more than, you know, the rest of the Wi Fi IoT industry in the two years before. So you know, it's a good thing, I think it's a good thing because it replaces bargaining powers in the end of the end users, because it pushes for for mass standards, because it creates an ecosystem in the scale that only a large player like Cisco can create.
Steve Statler 36:00
So that device management service is traditionally something that I would expect a company like Kontakt.io to offer it isn't that infringing a little bit on a potential source of revenue for for your company.
Rom Eizenberg 36:22
I mean, it certainly is. But we are doing the unfortunately, a typical thing of, of putting ourselves in the customers shoes. And I'm very, very adamant. And I'm very confident in saying that when your customer in the end user is successful, when they are adopting when they're seeing return over their investment, when their experience is positive. When they have speed and velocity, then everybody wins. Even if you bygone some some of your revenue by so I have ble to Wi Fi gateways. So if you are an airport and you want to monitor and manage your indoor navigation infrastructure, you can buy those gateways for me and they make money. And you can buy this device management from me and they make money for it. Or you can use your access points and buy that capability through the Cisco DNA spaces. Like you mentioned, as an example. When you do that, I make a bit less money. But your life is so much better. My deal cycle is much faster, the path to value is faster. You will call me and add new use cases and buy maybe equipment that you wouldn't buy from me if you were still struggling getting your basic thing to work. So yes, we are giving up on some of our elements in our revenue pie. We are doing that because we think it accelerates adoption, it increases the total size of the pie. Right. So we have less of a king, but our cake is much bigger.
Steve Statler 37:58
Yeah. velocity and customer satisfaction and the ability to sell other services. Seems like a good trade off there. Well, I think want to wrap up. But before we finish, I want to get your perspective more broadly on where the Internet of Things has been, where it is at the moment and and where it's going to in the future. Has the Internet of Things been successful in your view?
Rom Eizenberg 38:32
it's a broad term loosely used. I think the IoT deployments over cellular over foreign 5g is being mostly successful, because mostly those are point solutions to point problems. They're isolated with a single sensor somewhere remote in that does the job very well. I think that everywhere IoT tried to invade buildings and build networks and and deliver, you know, outcomes, business outcomes at scale, where all the employees are trying to all the assets in the warehouse are managed, and so on all the building is connected. In that particular space. We have been through almost 20 years of a lot of hype over promising under delivering, if you track the venture dollars that went into developing IoT technologies and ended up in the graveyard, more graveyard dollars then. Happy anniversary party dollars. So did it fail. I mean, in the sense it's hard to avoid that conclusion. But I am an optimist. And I want to say it's not failure as much as it is the process of technology going through life cycles. life cycles and life cycles. It's a bit like, you know, the older guys, you might remember what was the beginning of wireless cellular internet. And we had this ridiculous primitive website completely failed. So has wireless internet failed? No, it's and then we can't live without it. Right? We even inside our own home, most people when they go to the bathroom, I don't want to continue. But there's only one thing you take with you to the bathroom. Right? The Internet
Steve Statler 40:29
right? Now, it's amazing. I totally agree. I think I wrote about it in this podcast is based on a book beacon technologies. And in the book, we talk about the value of this hubris, this excitement, it's about achieving escape velocity. And that's basically based on on hype, and you have you have a million people storming the beaches and only a few get through, but then they basically take over and I it's it's a rough process, and there's a lot of people who probably licking their wounds, but then there's others who survived and have gone to really enjoy. What's the other side of that, that beach. The beach analogy is a new one, I'm not sure whether I'm going to keep that it's probably important taste, but escape velocity of kink is probably a better
Rom Eizenberg 41:30
one to make maybe a small addition on top, because sometimes it's not just strategic imperatives in the right decisions, it's sometimes just a bit of luck, the winds need to be right, the start needs to align. And, you know, is a silly example, a Bluetooth Low Energy, as a technology choice for IoT would not have taken off at the velocity did without the adoption of this type of silicon of this type of technology in consumer products. Right? I have Nike shoes with a Bluetooth, communicator. I have an eight year old boy, his name is Dylan, and he loves Lego. In he has a Lego toy that has bluetooth in it. And he connects it to the iPad. And he can, I don't know operate a motor and cause the robot to turn around that. But this is Lego. This is not IoT enterprise. I don't know building security solutions is Lego. But the proliferation of Bluetooth, the this scale of the Bluetooth cheap deployment in almost everything now creates investment in silicon, by the chip manufacturers. And it benefits the supply chain all the way to the universe of IoT, of course. So sometimes a bit of luck, the right winds, stars need to align. And then great things happen.
Steve Statler 43:02
And where are we headed to in the next few years? What's what do you think the secret of successes were? What are the things that you're going to be looking out for in your space, and maybe in the adjacent spaces,
Rom Eizenberg 43:16
I think that the key motion that they see in terms of its impact on end users and the market as a whole is the embedding of what is an overlay network or an overlay tagging kind of strategy today into the fabric of the things that we already have. So we mentioned it in different perspectives. The building layout, the build the fabric of the infrastructure that makes the building run, before anybody walks in the door becomes IoT enabled, that means smart lightning, that means Wi Fi networks that support IoT, the machines the devices themselves laptops. Six years ago, I did a project with a large defense organ that needed to tag laptops to prevent them from being removed from the base because they have secret materials. These days, we're talking to Intel about embedding the context of your wireless stack in any Wi Fi Bluetooth chip that Intel produces. That means that laptops can talk to this building infrastructure without having to be tagged. You mentioned infusion pumps. So becoming part of the fabric of reality of the devices that you already buy of the networks that you already have. shifts the focus of the IoT industry to processing large amounts of data to using AI and machine learning tools to extract insight and wisdom from those this ocean of data. And I think that you know also for Kontakt.io if you're looking at our road Up ahead, then this is where the you know, the majority of our r&d dollars in focus is going towards
Steve Statler 45:06
wonderful. It's been a great conversation Ron Eisenberg, Kontakt.io.Tthanks very much for spending the hour with us.
Rom Eizenberg 45:14
It was a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Steve Statler 45:16
And thank you for listening. For veterans of the show, you may have noticed that there's a bit of extra time on that timeline. This is something we've never talked about before. This is the first time that is an Easter egg at the end of our shows where we talk to our guests a bit about their lives. do stay with us a little longer if you have the time. If not, thank you for joining us for this update on Kontakt.io, what they're doing. I want to thank net. I want to thank Nelson Fernandez, who edits the show, Jessie Hazelrigg, who produces it. And once again, thank you for spending some time with us. We'll see you again. Bye. Bye. So Ron, where are you at the moment?
Rom Eizenberg 46:09
We're normally live in the West Village in New York. And over the last year since COVID started, we are tucked away in the Catskill Mountains. That's upstate New York.
Steve Statler 46:23
So you have a you're renting a place. So you have a holiday place. So
Rom Eizenberg 46:27
yeah, we have a little weekend, house up on the mountain, and COVID. And I'm embarrassed to say that it's been horrible. But for my particular family, not so bad. They caught up with a lot of yard work, I was building a deck. So sometimes reality forces you to disconnect from life and you make the best out of
Steve Statler 46:54
it. I've done the same thing. I've invested in a lot of power tools, and I've been making things out of wood. It's incredibly therapeutic. I love it. I feel a little guilty saying it, I have to say. So where did you grow up?
Rom Eizenberg 47:09
So my parents come from Europe, but I grew up in Israel in Tel Aviv. And, and I think my last last company, we were raising venture capital from us fund and one of the conditions was that we move our management team. So that was 11 years ago. And I came I fell in love. We have in great time. So we stayed fantastic.
Steve Statler 47:37
And I was just looking at your LinkedIn profile before recording the show and it looked like you did one of your degrees in Milan, is that correct?
Rom Eizenberg 47:48
Yes. In Bocconi It was such a great adventure. We just sold the company and I, my initial education was in computer science, and I felt like starting something different. And in my wife felt like traveling Europe a little bit, and we had a little bit of cash, we were relatively young. So, yes, we moved to Italy, I went to Bocconi, we drove around Europe and made new friends, the sort of thing that you get to do when you're young.
Steve Statler 48:22
Sounds amazing. So you were learning so did you know Italian before? Did you know Italian afterwards?
Rom Eizenberg 48:31
I'm assuming you did? No, no, no, not a word before. After? Well, my wife does better than me because she's the smart one, but I get by, I get by,
Steve Statler 48:42
it was a great experience for amazing. Okay, so we have this tradition, we ask people about their musical tastes and preferences and the construct is you're on a trip to Mars. What are the the three songs that you would choose to take to Mars and why?
Rom Eizenberg 49:04
Well, I think that we're going to have to start with leaving on a jet plane. And there is a little Armageddon movie reference here. That that's for the takeoff then of course, you need the David Boies Space Oddity,
Steve Statler 49:18
of course, classic.
Rom Eizenberg 49:21
And there was thinking when we land the critical moment, we need a soundtrack for landing so I would go with We are the champions by Queen
Steve Statler 49:30
very motivational Do you listen to it? Do you listen to it on a regular basis or it's just when you're learning on math your Is it a favorite? Anyway, I
Rom Eizenberg 49:41
grew up in the in the later 80s as a kid, but I think it was a completely packed to 70s and 60s Music So yes, a lot of David boy and and Queen and this sort of thing.
Steve Statler 49:57
Yeah. Wonderful. It's just a motivational song. I don't do it very often, but sometimes, like if I'm nervous about a big meeting then I'll I'll play that song. It's, it's, it's really.
Rom Eizenberg 50:11
Steve Statler 50:12
Very good. Well, thanks very much. Great. Great to chat with you.