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Mister Beacon Episode #124

Minew - The Real Manufacturer of Beacons

June 30, 2021

This week we will hear a unique perspective. Our guest is from Minew, a Chinese company that has focused on the IoT field for more than a decade, both manufacturing their own products and acting as the hardware supplier for many other Bluetooth beacons and tag brands. They have seen the Bluetooth beacon market from its birth and have collaborated with many notable corporations, including Alibaba, Google, Here, and Huawei. Eason Huang joins us from China to discuss the demand for IoT today, where it is heading, and the opportunities and challenges that solution providers are facing.


  • Narration 00:12

    The Mr. beacon podcast is sponsored by Wiliot.

    Steve Statler 00:18

    Welcome to the Mr. beacon podcast, the only podcast we know about that explores digital-physical convergence, the worlds of auto-ID, real-time location systems and indoor positioning. It's pretty niche. And we're pretty geeky, we try and think about business, we try to think about people. And thank you so much for joining us. I want to thank our very special guests.

    Eason Huang 00:47

    Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Steven, for your invitation.

    Steve Statler 00:52

    So you're you work at Minew, and this is a fascinating company, I wanted to talk to someone from your company for years. Really? Yeah, the reason is that you not only do you have an amazing product range, so if anyone goes to your website, they'll see that it's quite a very diverse set of products. But you're also behind many other brands. You know, there's a lot of companies that are in the beacon business, or selling Bluetooth tags, and they don't actually make their products you do. We actually have really good relationship with them. So you have a very interesting perspective, because you have it through your own direct sales, and you have it through these partners. So I can't wait to hear a bit about your views on the market. But let's start off with a broad question about that. What are you seeing in terms of IoT demands? commercial spaces? And just generally, from your vantage point? What do you see, of course,

    Eason Huang 02:14

    in terms of the IoT, internet offense demands for commercial space, and, you know, no matter in in China or other countries in the world, the Internet of Things is becoming more and more popular. I think a lot of people want to know what the reasons behind all of this growth in popularity, and the Internet of Things has brought tremendous possibilities, you know, having really great impact on many industries today. Some industries, having have accepted the IoT with the help of developers, why artists who are trying to adopt technology and explore huge business opportunities. You know, a lot of things are getting smart with the either the technology, or it can just put a smart word in front of some industries, like smart retail, smart logistics, smart healthcare, smart buildings like that, you know, yes, we're going to be talking about all of this, you know, things change, as we have the new chances coming up. That's what we're going to do to help solutions provider to make a change to catch up with the group of the market. So when talking about the growth of IoT demands, we can see that because the IoT can also help them build advanced, powerful models and generate new revenue by increasing their return on investment, you know. So, yeah, what the IoT brought us today includes efficient business process, the enterprise can use the IoT to track their devices in real time, and gain profound operational insight with the help of sensors. The data helps them identify promising the access and proof efficiency by minimize energy cost and time wasted on maintenance. Yes, I think the the other thing is that we have much better security as real time monitoring of workplace becoming possible and easier than before. It can also, I think, the outage can also improve the organizational productivity by improving the employee efficiency, efficiency, and access utilization and reducing the maintenance cost. So that's why a lot of companies and enterprises want to get involved with the IoT with the IoT market. So that's how the opportunity to come. So besides the inventory, asset tracking and management is one of the benefits we have from the IoT That's what we are facing in a lot of companies. Yes, if so,

    Steve Statler 05:07

    how long has your company been in this business for?

    Eason Huang 05:13

    It was over? Let me get, let me just count and maybe 15 years 15 over 15 years, yeah. for manufacturing the hardware device. And, you know, we are focused on the researching and development and manufacturing itself, hardware IoT devices. That's what we're focused on.

    Steve Statler 05:37

    So you you were making electronics and devices before the beacon market took off? And you've seen it from the beginning? How would you characterize the growth in in sales? If you were to describe the relative volumes of what you're seeing in terms of orders? Is it as it plateaued? Is it going up? Or what's the trends that you're seeing?

    Eason Huang 06:08

    In terms of the pipkens? development? I think we have the beginning from the 2013, you know, 2014, it was a time when the outposts launched the ibeacon. You know, yeah, that was the time we began to do something about the beacons development, you know, in when it comes to the markets overseas, around the world is still going up. But I think we are pretty much close to the the pickup the trends, so we have to do something interesting, interesting, and in a way that we have to do something new and different, not just route to beacons. But we got to do something on varieties, you know.

    Steve Statler 06:53

    And you certainly have that you have very robust products, you have beautiful looking products, you have something that is I think, pays tribute to the the air tag or whatever it is the you know, the way that that you can now have our data, you know, and you also have devices that read the broadcast the gateways and so forth. I also noticed that you have an angle of arrival product. Is that, is that something that you are shipping now? Or is it something that you're going to be launching in the future?

    Eason Huang 07:38

    Yeah, yeah, the angle of arrival is what we're focused on the highest level of indoor location. Yeah, we were not just doing something like the RSS science, a traditional way to locate something, you know, so we have to move forward to use something new, like the angle of arrival. That's what we are focused on. So I think this is the trend of the low indoor locations. Indoor locations trend, you know, not just angle of arrival, but we have we have a research on the utopie or something else like that.

    Steve Statler 08:15

    So ultra wideband as well as Bluetooth. So are you shipping the angle of arrival product now?

    Eason Huang 08:25

    Yeah, we are shipping the angle of arrival now. So yeah, we are just focused on the hardware design. You know, we are also working on the algorithm of the angle of arrival systems know that that's the most difficult part of our engineering, you know, the algorithm, the software, but we try to do our best to figure it out. Yeah. But the hardware, it's, it's okay. And we shipping the hardware to some partners and companies right there. Yeah.

    Steve Statler 08:54

    And that's one of the things that I think distinguishes you. A lot of American beacon companies, a lot of European beacon companies aren't really beacon companies, they sell the hardware reluctantly, and they're really trying to make money out of the software. Yeah, it seems like your company is happy to just sell the hardware. Is that correct?

    Eason Huang 09:21

    Yeah, yeah, we focus on the hardware design, manufacturing and sells something like that we were we just wanted to have the partnership with this software company or a solutions provider or system integrators because we just focus on our own parts, the hardware, and the software. We can just cooperate it without us. That's how we get together and put the system into high level to just given a better service to the customers.

    Steve Statler 09:52

    You're focusing on the hardware which is refreshing because I think sometimes people don't want the stuff that Some vendors are trying to sell what are the opportunities and challenges that you see solution providers facing now your your customers? I'm sure you get

    Eason Huang 10:14

    to know them. Well, what what are the opportunities and challenges for them? In terms of the opportunities or the challenges for solutions provider, I just want to jump into the challenges we've seen in this IoT space. You know, there's a lot of data, if you look at the most common one from the IoT signals report, that is that a lot of this projects have for this commercial space, whether it's asset monitoring, or condition, monitoring, if even, you know, commercial real estate occupancy analysis, a lot of these things fail only on the proof of concept stage, we see over and over again, because maybe there are over 50% of the projects fail in their PLC stage, which leads to, to the waste of manpower, time materials and resources and financial resources, what a waste, you know, and the top reasons given are. The first one, I think, is there, the projects are too complicated, you know, the data of these projects are numbers and complex, which requires strong processing ability to analyze data, but not all companies have this ability to handle. And the second one is that, in terms of the challenges, I think the second, the challenges is going to be the ROI. The ROI is not clear, maybe they built something, but they didn't really know until they were way down the path to spend a year building it, and it wasn't gonna wasn't gonna make any money, right? Like it takes out certain amount of time and energy and let the project go on. Before they know whether the project is going to make any sense, which will cause a waste of resources to a certain extent, you know, and the last one, the last challenge that I think, is that it doesn't scale, you know, maybe they build it once in a lap. And then they look it out that talk it out into the real world and realize, wow, this is really hard to install, and put into practice economies that economies don't scale very well. And that's the lack of scalability. And it may only be used in a single place, but not any other areas. So we've seen a lot of this swings going on around some solutions provider all the time. And so what we need to do is to accelerate them to prove their salary, their proof of concept, because on average, I think a lot of you in our audience probably have experienced this. The average IoT pilot takes about 11 months, you know. So if you spent 11 months doing the first step, it's really hard to build a business around that. That's repeatable. Yes, I think that was the challenges for for the solutions provided. Yeah,

    Steve Statler 13:09

    that's gold. That's really, I think what you said is absolutely spot on. And I think it obviously comes from a lot of experience working with many companies, and I guess they come to you, and they order a few products for the pilot, and you're banking on them scaling, and then they don't and, I mean, the ones that really resonated with me are the lack of clarity on what the ROI is, and the and the challenges with scaling. And it's funny, because, you know, in my day job, I'm selling Bluetooth tags, and the understand seeing and so forth. And when you ask people, so what's the ROI, they really struggle, almost everyone struggles to tell you. And then you know, quite often, if you're working through a channel partner, they will say, Well, of course, there's an ROI, they wouldn't be doing it if there wasn't an ROI. And you're like, Yeah, but what is the ROI? And how do you so I think, I think your prescription was, do the proof of concept faster, so at least you can fail fast. That's that's your your advice is, fail fast. Get it done. So you know, if there's a problem with scaling, that you know that there's a problem with the ROI. Is there anything else that people can do? Or is it just a matter of Get on with it and do it quickly?

    Eason Huang 14:48

    The ROI I think the people have to do some research before the projects, you know, they have to research what they really want to do for the projects. And they have really better than standing about the cost, the overall cost about the projects or the devices they have. And they have to really good predict predictions about the outcome of a project to, to achieve what they what they like. So I think they have to make better preparations before the process before they take actions, you know. So, yeah,

    Steve Statler 15:32

    I think that's true. And sometimes, sometimes people can do it themselves, you know, they can get the cross functional team together, get finance involved, get buy in to what the ROI is quantified explicitly, I see that happening. Sometimes it requires bringing in a consultant, you know, they joke about, what's the consultant, he's someone who reads your watch, and tells you what the time is. And that's very dismissive. But I think for some people, sometimes you need a neutral person or third party person that can say, yeah, this is gonna save 10% of your capital employed, if you can, if you can do a better job of asset tracking. And, of course, not every consultant will do that. But sometimes when you bring that consultant in, he's sort of empowered to ask the tough questions and speak to the top levels in the company and go across the functions. And I think that's super important. This is great. I wasn't expecting to have this conversation with you, let's, but let's get back to some of the things that you're making up. It seems like you've recently produced to develop a kit, can you tell me a bit about that?

    Eason Huang 16:54

    Yes, I like to share something about the development kit. So with that, the challenges we have faced. So the Minew outie Development Kit, you know, so Minew has a lot of experience in low power, wireless hardware devices, r&d, and manufacturing itself. We focus on SMART Office, retail logistics, healthcare, we have a large amount of ecosystem and many kinds of sensors device that can collect data from a market and bring it into the cloud platform really seamlessly. So we do this in a special way, we actually don't put our own cloud application in from everything. So our focus is really on providing suitable hardware devices for this specific application, as I just mentioned, above, so we provide mature hardware devices for customers solutions, which can flexibly join customers network. And we can also support the development kits also support the Amazon cloud, which is AWS, you know, the Microsoft Cloud and the other public cloud platform. So the kid has really good scalability and the functionality. So what's more, and we just can, we can turn it into the large number of products to different applications scenario and provide hardware basis for customers early testing, showing the feasibility and the adaptability and functionality of our products, just to verify the implementation of customers own solutions, and reduce the losses caused by the misjudgment in early stage. You know,

    Steve Statler 18:43

    so tell me, let's get to some specifics. How much does it cost and what's in it?

    Eason Huang 18:51

    You know, the prices? I can tell you the assets self service team, we share you the price of the development kit with you.

    Steve Statler 19:00

    Yes, I'm gonna cheat here. I checked online, and it seemed like it was like 260 bucks. 280 Yeah,

    Eason Huang 19:08

    something like that. Yeah. Which is pretty good. Yeah, yeah, we have batch begins. We have access beacons. We have the regular size beacons, like the our temperature and humidity sensors inside. And we also have the gateway, you know, the indoor location gateway or G one as our data hub. So we put everything inside as a starter kit to help the solution provider. Yeah.

    Steve Statler 19:37

    And you know, why? Why go for the kit versus just buying a couple of, of the products ally cart? What is the significance of the kit from a developer's perspective?

    Eason Huang 19:53

    Okay, um, the so we've done with the kiss strategy with that we put the Bitcoin sensors, and gateway together in our starter kit louse developer that builds something that could be done a pretty short time. You know, that's also scalable when you decide to do it over and over again, in a large enterprise, or with a much bigger idea. And that's what my new juhan starter kit is all about. So take taking a process that could normally take in widths and months down to a few days, and not require a lot of coding and lot of custom development to get to that decision if you're going to go and not go with a particular project. Because as we know, not every project is going to become a large production scale operation, right? Some customers just don't get it. But we want to be able to take them to the market as soon as we can, especially after get the PLC test done. Then they can quickly to choose the right beacons from our development kit, maybe one or two beacons they want for the next step.

    Steve Statler 20:59

    I think that's really good advice. I back when I worked at Qualcomm, we had this amazing user experience team. And before they ever developed anything, they would mock up the solution. And they would, you know, create software by just writing things on pieces of paper. And so it maybe it wasn't the part, it wasn't the real solution. It wasn't the perfect solution. But just by getting that in front of customers, you learn so much. And so I think this developer kit approach is a really is a really sound one. You know, I wish we had more time to talk about Eastern but it was great getting your perspective, you have a unique perspective as you're kind of inside so many other vendors solutions as well as selling your own. I want to thank you for coming on the show. It's been a real pleasure. Yeah. Thanks for having me. Very good. I also want to thank you, our listeners and our viewers. We really appreciate your your support over 130 episodes now at the Mr. beacon podcast. Do like us Do subscribe, do tell your friends. I also want to thank Jessie Hazelrigg, who is the producer of our show, and Nelson Fernandez, who is our editor. And I want to thank Starbucks for all they're doing for our family, employing our our son, who is on the autism spectrum. So thanks a lot. We'll see you next time and do hang around. I've got a really great conversation with Easton talking a little bit about his life working in China and some amazing song choices. So thanks very much. So Easton whereabouts do you live?

    Eason Huang 22:59

    Now right now I'm just living in Shenzhen. Which is one of the most biggest cities in China. You know, it's located in the southern part of China, Guangdong Province. You know, it's pretty close to Hong Kong. Pretty close. So you know that? Yes.

    Steve Statler 23:18

    Just out of interest, sort of what's what's life like there? How do you get to work? Does it take you do you have a long commute? What kind of place do you live in? i? These may seem like strange questions, but I don't get to talk to people in China very often. So it's kind of interest in commute to work. Yeah.

    Eason Huang 23:37

    I just live nearby our company right now. I just ran up apartment and it's pretty close. So that I can have a work over day over time. Because I live so close now. So I don't I don't spend much time on commuting, you know,

    Steve Statler 23:55

    do you want to work or you take a bike or I just walked to work, just walk to work,

    Eason Huang 24:01

    you know, in five minutes, because you know, the apartments right near our company. We just right near

    Steve Statler 24:08

    for you. We were talking earlier, and you were telling me that you'd spent time in the States? When was that? How long did you spend in American

    Eason Huang 24:19

    out from 2015? You know, I've spent three years overseas in the United States. I have complete my master's degree. You know, I was focused on the telecommunication management services, which sour, which is my graduates, majors. So it's pretty close to what I'm doing now. The job, you know, that's how I get my career status. So I remember it was a pretty wonderful time for me in the United States from the 2015 to 2018 something Yeah.

    Steve Statler 24:56

    Did you when you came back, did you Go straight to menu or did you? Minew Sorry?

    Eason Huang 25:06

    No problem? Yeah. Um, actually, I didn't find a job directly to my new I have another job at the first beginning, you know, I change. Because one, once I found my interest and my advantage is right, in my major, you know, my major was telecommunication. So that's why that's why I picked the Minew company as my long career path.

    Steve Statler 25:37

    So, because you felt your your qualification was relevant and you're passionate?

    Eason Huang 25:45

    Yes, very close. Yeah, I think I'm qualified to, yeah, to do this industry. And for my career,

    Steve Statler 25:53

    no doubt, I'm

    Eason Huang 25:53

    sure your time in America helps given I'm assuming a lot of your customers are American companies or not. I just found a job in the United States. But my parents asked me to come back to China. So I haven't spent a lot of time after graduation. So just come back and directly,

    Steve Statler 26:18

    yes. So you know, we have this tradition of asking our guests for three songs that mean something to them. Which ones did you choose?

    Eason Huang 26:29

    The free songs I think, I'm going to pick See you again, you know, the Fast and Furious. The movie, you know, see you again, which is exactly I'm want to share today, because the song was released in 2015. You know, 2015 by Charlie Puth. This is a song by Charlie PUth. It was really nice. I love it so much. I'm not sure if you'll listen. So it is exactly it's actually in memory of Paul Walker, the movie star who passed away in 2015.

    Steve Statler 27:02


    Eason Huang 27:05

    2015 was also a really special year for me because I was still in the United States back then. It was wonderful time a great time for me. Because I have not only got my master's master's degree, pretty much like what I'm doing now. That's how I get my career started. But also, I made a lot of new American friends till now, some of them are still keeping in touch. I miss them very much. So whenever I listened to this song, I think of the time of spending us a great time with my friends over and over there in New York City in New Jersey. So I'm really looking forward to see them again. my American friends.

    Steve Statler 27:47

    Yeah, one man.

    Eason Huang 27:49

    Yeah, it was really wonderful. And the second song that I wanted to share is Oh, Father, you know, by the body Jones year, it was released in 2010. You know, 10 years ago, you know, one of my favorite songs. I like one of the worst thing, this songs, the first sentences It was like, oh, Father, I never want anything from you. But time. Yes. Yes. My wife. Yes, my father pay has paid a lot for me since I was a little kid. And I always thankful. And I think this is a gift from God. You know, my dad has tried everything he can to create a good environment for my education and growth, and taught me a lot of things like what responsibility is and how to be a man. That's how to shape who I am. Be responsible for the job and yourself, your families or loved one. Pretty much like what you did to his son, right, step one, so yeah, my my dad is getting old 17th or something. I really hope God bless him and give him more time to get Oh, slowly, and give me more time to stay with him because we are now separated in two different places. I work in a big city, you know, in he's in a small town 500 miles apart between two of us. So when I listen to this song, I miss him so much. Of course. I miss my mother too. Yes,

    Steve Statler 29:24

    it's very touching. Very,

    Eason Huang 29:27

    very touching. Yes. My father is getting older. Yeah. And this last song I want to share is the stronger You know, the stronger What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's pretty high. Yeah, that's pretty high song that I used to play it over and over again, in my phone when I was down. And I love the worst from it. Like, you know, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It's famous. Yeah. A couple of years ago. I just came back to China. I live my son in a big city. I started to work all day long. No one's been around to help. Sometimes, things went not really well during some projects, you know, ups and downs. I probably felt the press, but not always upset. I, I got to do something and I got to make a change. Use my mind to think deeply in the middle of the night to figure out some solution to the problem, you know, never give up. And I'll always make it through because I believe what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Said I'm going to recommend I'm going to recommend it to use the

    Steve Statler 30:37

    those were amazing choices. I'm so grateful to you for choosing Eastern. Thank you very much