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Mister Beacon Episode #40

Kontakt.io's Field Leadership

May 15, 2017

We get insights into the go-to-market strategy of Kontakt.io, one of the most successful pure play beacon vendors, from their field leadership, Philipp von Gilsa, VP of Market Operations and Filip Karwala, Head of Sales. They share their metrics, information about the projects they are taking live, their latest products and where the growth is.


  • Steve Statler 00:00

    Hi, welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. My name is Steve, here with my colleague, Mandy Phillips from satellite consulting. And we're talking to Kontakt.io today. So let's fill it. We are hanging out in Phoenix. There's a great conference here. RFID journal live, we had an awesome day yesterday, five sessions on Bluetooth beacons packed audience. And so now we're chatting to some of the folks here and Kontakt.io probably don't need any introduction, but they have been one of the main forces in the market in terms of shipping beacons. And so I'm really pleased to be able to talk to you guys, thanks for carving time out. So maybe we should start off and you can just introduce yourself and what you do.

    Philipp von Gilsa 00:52

    With Mexico and US. I've been at Kontakt.io for over two years. My job title is VP of Market and Operation.

    Filip Karwala 01:08

    I run sales, marketing, customer success and new product development from a market point of view, and try to align all the different teams from a functional but also from a geographic point of view. With headquarters in Krakow, we have a large commercial office, in Berlin and in Mexico.

    Steve Statler 01:28

    How many people are in the company?

    Philipp von Gilsa 01:31

    Roughly 70, with a 50/50 split on engineering.

    Steve Statler 01:35

    70 people? And I'm assuming most of them are in Krakow.

    Philipp von Gilsa 01:40

    Yeah. So I think roughly 50 are based in Krakow. Reason for that is also I mean, then we have product with the engineering team, we have all the administrative function, but also production, reserve, assemble, and manufacture or meetings. So we have quite a large team involved in logistics and shipping quality control in all those different parts, which, if you don't have your own beacons would be outsourcing or doing something.

    Steve Statler 02:13

    That's interesting. Beacuse you know, these days, all companies seem to outsource as much of that as possible. And I guess you have the option, you're in Poland. So you have smart people who are not as expensive folks here, but Why have you decided to do more in house than maybe.

    Filip Karwala 02:31

    So our goal here is to have the most robust and most advanced hardware in the market. And we believe it all starts at the hardware, and everything which comes later, is sort of building on top of the hardware. So by having the number one product in the market, from a hardware point of view, we believe this is a strategic advantage to do a lot of other things later down the road of software and service, and so forth. But it always starts with the with the hardware.

    Steve Statler 03:02

    And that's I think, given anyone would want to put that out there. But one of the things that struck me is that you seem to have focused on the supporting the deployment phase. So in terms of customization, making it easy for people to take the product, and doing stuff to assist in in deployments that are multi site deployments. Can you talk about what you do? If I'm, if I'm a big retailer, I have a lot of locations. What can you do to help me?

    Philipp von Gilsa 03:32

    So I mean, first of all, like our goal is to basically make the habit and visible for you at the end. And we would typically do this is sort of sit down with you and try to understand your workbooks and your integration. And if you deployed beacons before, then there must have been probably like a procedure and like trying to sort of break this down and understand it. If not, then we would sort of try to come up with a plan to get those beacons out there for you. And I think he really has to differentiate if you are doing your first proof of concept. Even your first let's say 1000s unit is not something you will be thinking about, then you think about the prize, you think about the signal working my app working on that. But once you really go into this rollout, and we think about, you know, five, maybe even six digit volume, then this whole operation about it has to be very, very well defined. And what we do here is basically from you know, custom custom casings to drop shipping to labeling the devices so that it matches your, you know, your internal structure. And then in case we need it, we also sent you folks over who can help you deploy. I think we've done three major funds this year to buy Landau, Germany, Germany where the teams that are coming off of Krakow and from Mexico able to play around, we offer 24/7 support for in 65 days, so you can call us and within an hour, you should have a very qualified answer, which becomes very important because 1% of your infrastructure breaks, then your software is not running anymore. And then we entered the dark side.

    Steve Statler 05:23

    So this is a big contrast to kind of going for a bargain basement Chinese manufacturer is not going to do that stuff. What how big? Are these larger deployments that you're sourcing? What's a big deployment in the ecosystem these days?

    Filip Karwala 05:42

    What do we consider big.

    Philipp von Gilsa 05:46

    We have customers ordering everyone in deployment in this contract for 3000.

    Filip Karwala 05:57

    And then I would say everything like five 5k to 10k setting instead of those thresholds, and we speak.

    Steve Statler 06:04

    So people that say that the beacon ecosystem is dead, that might be a little premature.

    Philipp von Gilsa 06:09

    I think it's not as high anymore. But overall, that's something good because it means it's getting more serious. Doesn't mean that that is dying, but wants to read nowadays, you know, the latest trends on push notification marketing. I think that's not needed right now.

    Steve Statler 06:30

    So tell us a bit about what your product focuses these days.

    Philipp von Gilsa 06:37

    So Kontkt.io's vision is to basically digitalize the physical world. So every product, which helps us get a bit closer to the product we would potentially be doing, we currently measure sort of impact by the volumes of people we can, we can ship out. And yield we have basically two lines of business. One is called stationary people, where you have those traditional use cases, you know, you put a beacon on the wall, and then you have an infrastructure, and then this enables customer engagement. And the other thing that's sort of something new, where we are currently putting a lot of focus and efforts in is the quality of the moving beacons of tech, which is not the traditional iBeacon, or proximity sort of use cases. But here we are entering more in the industrial IoT, in asset tracking, in, in people monitoring and a whole bunch of different applications where we see coming from Bucha point of view that the technology is has a whole bunch of advantages over other technologies in this space, such as error by the UNDP, or EWB. So summing up, this is something where we are currently focusing a lot on there will be I think two or three new beacon getting launched this year, particularly tailored for that.

    Steve Statler 08:10

    So you have new gateway products, you're one of the first companies that should be concerned a gateway and the new version of that. And you also have a cloud service that can suppose a little bit about how functionality from your location service that you're offering and what the model is around that.

    Filip Karwala 08:28

    So if you start again, from sort of those two domains now, coming from the tag, or from the beacon level, everything sort of follows after so we have for supporting both use cases with different software products is gateway. So on the stationary side, it's more useful in management, you know, managing your infrastructure remotely or shutting it down and support. And on the other side, where we speak about moving devices. This gateway is more of a location based access point, which is able to understand where the device is also entering the zone, leaving the zone along, they're staying there, and so forth. And for both sides, we are developing software, which enables you to to use this data integrated in your workspace integrated into your existing solution or integrated into, you know, your system, and so forth. And that's pretty much it.

    Steve Statler 09:35

    So what are the verticals that you're saying that I'm most interested in that asset tracking real time location system usage model?

    Philipp von Gilsa 09:45

    Biggest is healthcare. We're getting a lot of solutions. integrators have been working with hospitals to make big big use cases. And also a lot of money problems. So this is The exciting thing that we're moving from like a knife and have retail coupons, to solving problems for people when they want to save money or make more money. Definitely manufacturing, so any kind of automation and optimization of operations in factories, oil and gas, we get a lot of interest in our tracking people, and also huge, huge industry that is kind of invisible. And there is a few small nuclear that they're doing great solutions and maintenance service workers when they go and you know, they have to be in a specific place in a specific hour and check out all the control and compliance of this. Very interesting. And then all the whole compliance industry where, you know, everything's kind of fake rebate, or a solution, but definitely to be disrupted. Already. A few companies in.

    Steve Statler 10:58

    Very cool. Well, thanks a lot, guys. Anything else we should have covered? I've got one last question to ask you by the other business stuff that we should talk about.

    Philipp von Gilsa 11:06

    No, I mean, we're excited to head over to RFID World, today. And yeah, afterwards, we can do another interview.

    Steve Statler 11:15

    Yeah, it's actually great to see. I mean, there's a lot of serious companies that have adopted RFID for engineering and maintenance, and all sorts of very hard ROI type applications. And now they're looking at Bluetooth, and I don't think they're abandoning RFID. But they're seeing where it's complimentary. And that's, that's exciting.

    Filip Karwala 11:39

    Yeah, next two weeks. We were touring around the US. So we'll be in different cities, you can check our social media and you can put in breakfast with it.

    Steve Statler 11:51

    Yeah, it's been a great breakfast. I thought I'd try to break in the conversation. Even better. So I wouldn't be Mr. Beacon podcast. If I didn't ask you about music and what the song you would say, I'm just gonna give you one song. So what one song would you take to Mars? If you could only sing while?

    Filip Karwala 12:14

    You only got I don't think Rick Ross.

    Steve Statler 12:17

    Rick Ross. I may ask you to sing that.

    Philipp von Gilsa 12:25

    But me would be Rolling Stones, Can't Ever Get What She Wants.

    Steve Statler 12:32

    All right. Very good. Well, what about Mandy? What would you take?

    Mandy Phillips 12:36

    I think it probably would be Tony Bennett, I Left my Heart in San Francisco. Because it's the first time my dad taught me to think it's very old.

    Steve Statler 12:51

    Like us. Very good. Thanks very much for watching us and check out the more subscribe to us. You can do that on YouTube on Facebook, but Bestival on our website because that way you can capture all the stuff that we put out whether it's written, or if it's in 360 video. Thanks for watching.