Mister Beacon Episode #137
How to Make IoT Businesses SuccessfulOctober 12, 2021
This week we’re talking with Bryan Merckling, CEO of Thinaer, about the tools and methods that companies like his are implementing which are helping to bring true scale to the IoT space. This is helping businesses take a good idea and bring it to life profitably. We cover everything from tags to robots in an effort to roll back the curtain on how companies like Thinaer are bringing asset tracking to businesses as a turnkey service.
In the above clip, about how Thinaer is bringing IoT tracking to scale along with an entirely new level of AI insights beneficial to business owners, all in an intuitive and easy to learn service.
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Steve Statler 00:00
Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. Thanks for joining us for another show. This week, we're going to be considering the question, how do you make an IoT business successful? How do you get from a good idea to real scale? And we're going to be doing it with Bryan Merckling, who is the CEO and co founder of Thinaer. And this is a auto ID company that I've been observing for a number of years. And I've actually been working with Wiliot directly. So part of what Brian's going to be talking about is his experience using the battery free Bluetooth tags that we sell, trying to keep it educational, not turn it into an advert. So we'll also be talking about the limits of that technology. But I think Bryan's case is interesting, because very few companies are deploying millions of tags in a single project, and thin air are. So we'll be learning a bit about that use case. And as always, the second part of the show will be a bit more personal. We'll be talking about Bryan's progression with his company, some of the things that he did before Thinaer, his route to becoming CEO of a successful IoT company, as well as his taste in music. So hope you enjoy this conversation. Thanks for listening. The Mr. Beacon Podcast is sponsored by Wiliot, intelligence for everyday things, powered by IoT Pixels. Bryan, welcome to the show.
Bryan Merckling 01:46
Thank you for having me, Steve.
Steve Statler 01:48
So it feels like this is overdue. We have known each other for I think going on six years first, as consultants as I finished the beacon technologies book and was analyzing the players. What you had was super interesting. It has evolved since then. So now we're working together. I'm at Wiliot, and your company is really thriving. So in the session today, I'd like to learn with the audience about what Thinaer does, but I'm also very interested in your perspective on the asset tracking and IoT market. And I'd love to hear the latest news, it seems like you're really starting to break through this market has struggled with that, and it struggled to achieve scale. And you're really starting to achieve scale. So I think we can all learn a bit from what you've done. So how's that sound as an agenda?
Bryan Merckling 02:52
That sounds fantastic, Steve, it's it is certainly is long overdue. But I'm thrilled that we're here and thrilled to have this chance to connect today.
Steve Statler 03:01
Terrific. So what does Thinaer do?
Bryan Merckling 03:05
Thinaer is a is a company that synthesizes at scale. You mentioned at scale earlier, but we synthesize at scale digital feedback from machines, digital feedback from humans, so we capture human feedback. And then we package all of that up and turn it into AI backed insights and offer it all up as an easy to consume service.
Steve Statler 03:31
Wonderful. And what how do you tether the digital and physical worlds together? what's the what's the hardware? The auto ID technology that you use?
Bryan Merckling 03:43
Yeah, good question. So if you think about it, if you were a manufacturer, or in DOD, or CPG, or any industry where you're creating a good from, from raw materials. If you had unlimited funds, and you were starting your company today, you would buy digitally connected smart, connected machines for your manufacturing line, you would ensure that you had devices on all of your assets so that you could track them at all times and your environments were smart. And you would be sure that your people had tools that allow them to provide feedback that could be merged in and synthesised with all of this machine generated data. Well what thin air does is we make that possible for companies today with the machines you have with the employees you have today. And we do that by using sensors from around the world. So the industry is certainly is certainly starting to understand what IoT at scale means and there are manufacturers all over the world now creating sensors at a really affordable price point so that you can scale them from a price standpoint, but they have better battery life, they have more intelligence. And, and all of these things have led to our ability to kind of cross that that hump that you talked about earlier that the issues people were having, getting to scale, they've allowed us with our platform, to help our customers do all of this at scale with machines they already own with people they already employ. And that's important. The money you would have spent replacing machines, trying to invent tools from scratch, you can save so much money, just consuming all of this as a service. And just buying affordable sensors either through us are on your own, that can feed our platform. So what what I've kind of seen happen in the industry is everybody starting to think at scale, we happen to be one of the four out in the forefront, with a platform that allows us to pick and choose the right companies that have figured out scale, and bring it all together into that one solution. That makes sense for the customer at the right price point.
Steve Statler 06:24
We've teased a lot of very interesting topics there, I want to get more into the hardware technology, I want to get into the cloud AI technology, I want to get into the use cases that are driving the value. And I'd love to get a kind of a measure of what you think of as scale. Let's let's get to the business side of it. Because unless there's an ROI, then this doesn't mean anything. What what's the sweet spot that you're seeing? What's the you've been working on this for a while? What What did you think, was gonna be the sweet spot? And what's it actually turned out to be? Is it one of the same? Were you? Were you able to see into the future perfectly? Or were there any surprises
Bryan Merckling 07:15
we saw into the future semi perfectly. Okay, we knew along with everybody that asset tracking would be kind of the sharp end of the spear for IoT. It's been around for a long time, there'd been different technologies, including RFID. That just didn't scale, right? People tried so hard to make it work. The the cost of the readers the fact that the big tech companies that that really have dropped driven affordability of technology into the world like Apple like Google, you know, Samsung, none of those providers helped drive RFID to new levels of capabilities and to new low levels of price points. But ble they did and so we we were smart enough to we are we are absolutely agnostic to the technologies. But we're tuned to ble, we and we did recognize that when you and I met six years ago, we'd already decided that ble was the future. That's what we would tune to, we would certainly certainly use other communication protocols, but ble is what we're tuned to. So we saw that one, we saw asset tracking as important. And it is, it's the easiest way to help somebody understand how an IoT journey could could begin. And how we could take them on to this next step of of sophistication is probably the best way way to say it, I would say what we learned along the way, is the levels of sophistication that you can reach with all of these different sensors from around the world. And I would say the sweet spot has shifted slightly from asset tracking, to the ability to have a sophisticated view of your of your operations. And so what we've seen become the sweet spot is the ability to do asset tracking alongside of temperature, humidity, vibration sensing, and there's lots of things you can do with vibration sensing. And then from the backside of that pulling in human feedback as well. When I say the sweet spot is shifted, that's because if you take if you take the data from all of those different sources, all of those different sensors, you combine it with human feedback, what we learned and what we've proven to our customers is you can reach You can build smarter models, you can teach them faster. And you can just build better business insights. If you understand that the sweet spot is shifted from only asset tracking, and so we learned that along the way, we were heavily focused on asset tracking. In the beginning, I would say we lead as much today with what we call homes, kits, health utilization and monitoring systems, as we do with with asset tracking today.
Steve Statler 10:33
So I really loved that vision you pointed to which is becoming a reality, which is connecting everything, people, tools, raw materials, work in progress, finished goods, it's all connected. And but with intelligence, so syncing. So that's kind of those are the functions that I think for those of us that are passionate about it, we see, well, why wouldn't you have this tremendous advantage if you can exercise the power of the cloud on absolutely everything? And have visibility on this sense? But what are the business problems that that is actually solving? What are the pain points that you look for, or have discovered that that technical capability enables you to solve?
Bryan Merckling 11:26
Well, there are there are a wide range of them. And we'll be publishing a lot of material over the next couple of months on all of the use cases that we've proven out with our customers. But some of them that always bubbled the top asset tracking is still there. So reducing shrinkage, reducing the time that it takes for employees to find the things they need to find the raw materials to find the tools we've we've met, we've seen a huge ROI, in reducing the people costs around just those things. In highly regulated industries, especially where governments are involved, you can remove a tremendous amount of costs and risk to contracts, if you can produce work in progress faster than you could in the past, if you can reduce the amount of of items that are simply lost. Within the supply chain, we've we've actually helped in situations where as much as I think 45 to $60 million, and goods are lost every year. Now they recover 40 million of those goods through a lot of human interaction and a lot of a lot of human work to go find those things. But that costs you money as well. And you're still replacing 15 to $20 million of those lost parts and raw materials. And you're paying the same suppliers in your supply chain to resupply those, those materials. So huge ROI lies in being able and this is what's important. asset tracking before this point in this journey asset tracking before it now was, he had to pick and choose your most expensive things your most the highest value things were now, like you mentioned earlier, we've reached a point where you can actually tag and track everything. So now we've gone from tagging a few 1000 things to tagging millions of things. And the amount of rework the amount of shrinkage, the amount of loss, the amount of slight supply chain reuse that you can remove from that is tremendous. We've, we have a customer that their 32 month ROI within air exceeds $30 million.
Steve Statler 13:55
And in the past, you've talked about the fact that there's some of your customers have major backlogs, their problem isn't acquiring new order books, it's getting through what they have. And if they know where everything is they can basically burn through that backlog faster, which is so just faster execution, faster inventory turns
Bryan Merckling 14:21
all Yeah. And seems like it's and let me add something to that. That's where this new world that we're in this new phase of IoT where it's not just asset tracking. So in a world where your biggest problem is a huge, tremendous backlog, if you know where everything is and you can remove the time required for all of the rework and all of the things we just spoke about. That's one thing, if you can also understand when the machines on the manufacturing line are in an anomaly state and you can use predictive analytics To figure out when some when a machine is going to fail and get out in front of that, now you're not stopping the lines and everything downstream. So the the the fact that you can combine asset tracking with, with health and monitoring of of your machines today, and then even capture feedback from people about things, issues, they're seeing what the process, that's how you really start to burn down a backlog.
Steve Statler 15:28
And any other examples where sensing is useful, so condition monitoring for machinery, I get that that makes sense anything else?
Bryan Merckling 15:37
Well, we have customers that do really important things, we have customers that bill, everything from food, for, you know, consumption by humans to things that are bound for outer space, you know, war materials, so they build things that are really, really important. Quality is important. Quality cannot be sacrificed for any purpose, especially trying to go faster with your processes. So the fact that the processes are operating faster with our technology means we also have to put safeguards in place from a quality standpoint, and so we're using sensing and at one customer, they build something that's 80 feet long, that's part of an aircraft. If the width of it changes more than the width of a piece of paper, you've got a quality issue. So we have sensors from air on there from everything from temperature to humidity, vibration, to help understand when that machine goes into an anomaly state.
Steve Statler 16:41
Interesting. So we've started to address the Why would I do this? Let's go back to the how I do it, and the toolbox that you have for tagging things. And I've always believed that there's no perfect way of doing this. It's the right tool for the right job. What are the tools that you have in your kit bag? What's your approach? How do you know what to use? where and what are the options that you're favoring? What are your favorite tools for tagging?
Bryan Merckling 17:12
Well, so that the platform that we've built is key for that. So the platform is intelligent enough to kind of drive the use cases. In front of the use cases, the toolkit gets laid out and in front of our customers. And the toolkit includes the sensors that are needed for that specific use case. And then they can be adjusted based on requirements for battery life budget available. And then the processes that you use to adhere this the stickers or the tags to the various raw materials or assets. So the use case kind of defines the toolkit that you're going to use. Probably my favorite right now is the new mobile app that is fully integrated with our platform. It is actually the culmination of three years of work with a few fortune 100 companies, and how they operate and how they utilize IoT on a daily basis. So we've done everything from A to scan process to associate sensors with an asset and to scans whether it's a barcode and the QR code on our on our beacon or a sticker. And its associated. So we've we've drastically removed the required the time requirements for attaching and associating devices, we've worked really hard to remove a lot of the roadblocks for disassociating and reusing some of these sensors. That's all built into our platform now and built into our new mobile mobile app. But I'd say the real game changer for us in 2020. As we kind of get to the end of 2021 and 2022 is we are starting to use the term everything a lot now. And so I know this might sound like we're promoting something, but I'm not. It's simply what we see. And the wilayat sticker takes us from tagging a few 1000 things or 100,000 200,000 things, the tagging millions of things. So for a company that depends on data, data from millions of things is so much more value valuable than data from 1000s of things. That's that's a very important part of our new toolkit.
Steve Statler 19:46
And that's a cost thing. Primarily lower cost. lower cost allows you to just go from tagging expensive things to lower cost things is that how you're getting to the volumes
Bryan Merckling 20:00
That was why we are. That's why we actually approached Willie it to begin with was the cost, because it's a substantial cost difference in a battery powered active beacon down to a passive sticker. But because of the industries we're in classified areas are an important part of what we do. We've invented some special gateways or my team has invented some special gateways that will flag you if something with any type of the signal enters a classified area. The ability for a passive sticker to disperse its power and turn itself off inside of a classified area is absolutely valuable to what we do. Now we can track all of the raw materials in the areas where it's allowed. And we actually use we use algorithms and AI to decide if it's made its way into a classified area. And it provides a tremendous amount of valuable data to our customer.
Steve Statler 21:00
Why would you need AI to do that?
Bryan Merckling 21:05
Well, there's a difference in how the stickers interact with our algorithms and interact with our infrastructure, our infrastructure was tuned to battery powered, active beacons that can broadcast up to 1000 feet, and that can broadcast three times a second. So the way a passive sticker, the range of passive sticker has the way that you have to energize it the range in which it broadcasts, it required a substantial amount of changes to our algorithms, but we've already done the work. And it's it's highly valuable. Now, the other reason the AI is required is because you can have no signal inside a classified area, you need to be really sure when in that area, it could have gone down a hallway with 10 or 11 doors. And did it go into an area that's not energized? Or did it make its way into a classified area, we built models that that learn and have figured out how to tell you exactly where something is, regardless of the of the ability to have an energized at this moment in time.
Steve Statler 22:16
That's really interesting, because I think I spent a lot of time trying to explain to people the difference between this William IoT pixel technology, these Bluetooth, stickers, passive stickers, some people would say, and RFID. And I think you've got to put your finger on something that you're doing to accommodate that, which is the continuous nature have and the coverage. So and I firmly believe that RFID has got a place and it's going to continue to grow and thrive. But it is kind of a point in time, it's a snapshot, whereas I think what you're describing is a continuous view of Okay, this is this is radio technology. So I'm probably not going to see it 100% of the time everywhere. I'm going to pick it up, and I'm going to have this continuous view and sightings. And it sounds like what you're talking about is the ability to amass those sightings and make sense of them in a way that maybe you couldn't do if you add someone running around with an RFID reading gun or some $10,000 tunnel that that only, you know occasionally got used, you're kind of doing the continuous view and then making sense of all of those signals is am I don't want to put words into your mouth, but is am I heading in the right direction?
Bryan Merckling 23:46
You are we it would be a whole new podcast for us to to have the discussion around whether RFID will survive or not, you know, thin air we think RFID is done. Especially with the introduction of the BLE, you know, willy nilly sticker. The infrastructure required for RFID just doesn't have the ROI backing for it. It's costly infrastructure. It's limited in what it can do. ble infrastructure can do so many more things. There are so many more ble sensors coming to market every day. That if that's the infrastructure you've rolled out, and there's the ability to get the low cost ble sticker. We just don't see a future for RFID. But But back to your comment. Yeah, we've used a AI. We've we've created, I think a nice hybrid model that says there are areas that you'll care about where these stickers are at all times. We found a way to energize those areas. There are areas that you'll you'll want to know as many times as possible and 24 Our period, if you can see it or not. So what we've done is we've created this approach where we may flood some areas with energy. Other areas, we'll use a robot or a forklift to disperse energy occasionally, and then let our mesh gateways pick up the signals at those times, and do location at those times. And we've created I think, a model that's, that's very, very valuable for the customers that is absolutely allowed us to start tagging everything instead of some things.
Steve Statler 25:35
And explain a bit more about this energy. I mean, obviously, I'm live and breathe every day. So it makes sense to me, but other people may not know what you're referring to, you're dispersing energy, what kind of energy is,
Bryan Merckling 25:48
yeah, so there are two ways you can disperse energy for the stickers. But let me back up and talk about an active Bluetooth beacon has its own battery has its own energy, it's constantly broadcasting up to 1000 feet, if it's ble, five, with the sticker, there's no battery on. So you have to provide the energy from the air around the sticker. And what we really like is the new option to have either Laura long reign in long range in energy, or the BLE energy. So ble energy, the beauty of it is it's the 2.4 gigahertz spectrum, that everything that you can buy off the shelf at Best Buy, and, and other an Amazon all run in that spectrum. So as long as you've got a Wi Fi extender, or something that can disperse 2.4 gigahertz energy, and it gets into close range of the stickers, it will wake them up and allow them to broadcast. And so my team, we've got a tremendous team Taylor, Paul Bryce, you know, we've got a tremendously intelligent group of guys who are uniquely qualified for what we're doing. And they have found this great hybrid model for how and where you disperse energy using, basically off the shelf products, which is an amazing thing for customers. So, you know, think about, do I want a 1200 to 15 $100, RFID reader? Or do I want something I can buy for $49, from Amazon, that provides the energy to wake up these stickers.
Steve Statler 27:30
And when the the idea of robots walking around energizing and reading or mobile is interesting, can you flesh that out a little bit more? When would you use a stationary bridge or gateway reader? And when would you use something that's that's actually moving around?
Bryan Merckling 27:49
That's a good question. So there are two ways we use robots. The first way, the most prominent way we do this is we will have our gateways spread out in a mesh setup across the warehouse or across the factory. So they work together sweeping the air three times a second, for signals, they're constantly doing that seven by 24 365. So anytime a signal arises, they'll see it, they'll work together to try elaborate it, they'll still investigate the packet of information that comes from it, put it into our platform, and that's where all the magic happens. So what happens with a robot or a forklift is in this situation, they're only running around dispersing energy. So we've got a Wi Fi extender or some type of capability to disperse 2.4 gigahertz or Laura energy as it goes up and down the warehouse. So in the warehouse example, if you think about an aisle in a warehouse, and three stories of shelving, everything on those shelves has stickers on them, they're all asleep. Most of the time, there's a little bit of energy from our gateways that that the stickers are utilizing, but it's not enough to fully wake them up. As the robot makes its way down that aisle though. It disperses the energy wakes them up the gateways locate them pull information from the packets, and, and continues to do that up and down the aisles. So with a robot, think about a customer, we've got a customer that can do cycle counting about once a year for everything. once a quarter for important things. They made the comment using the robot using the stickers using our gateway infrastructure is 365 times better than what they had before. Because the robot can wake everything up every night. And our gateways are sitting there waiting for them to wake up to read the energy from them. And trilateration tell you exactly where they are on a map. That's the first example. The second example is an area where you don't have our infrastructure, we'll put a gateway on the robot. And most of the time, the robot has internal GPS coordinates that we can read from. And so as it makes its way up and down an aisle, it will not only use energy to wake up the stickers, but it will use its indoor GPS readings, if you will, to report back on location, that's not as quite as accurate. But for a lot of customers, for a lot of use cases, knowing it's in this part of this room in this warehouse is far better than they ever had before.
Steve Statler 30:41
And I don't want to give the impression that this is a massive advert for williard. So help help us understand where you wouldn't use Willie out and where you'd use a traditional Bluetooth beacon, what's the, what's the trade off.
Bryan Merckling 30:55
So in an area where it's important to get more information more often, like vibration. So we have customers that have hundreds of millions of dollars budgeted for new machines. So we help them with capacity analytics, we put a vibration sensor on all of their machines, and we help them understand when they're on and when they're off that simple capacity analytics that we run for them. But we'll get more sophisticated and get into predictive analytics with vibration sensors that can read 50,000 times per second. That's where you're going to have to have not only a battery powered beacon, but 50,000 reads per second, we're actually using wired sensors to capture at that pace. We we do readings down to minus 40 degrees Celsius, we use active beacons. To do that. We have beacons that will leave an area, leave an area with infrastructure and then enter another area with infrastructure. They need to retain information for that 24 to 48 hour period, and then dump their data when they make it to another part. Another location with our infrastructure, we'll use active beacons for for that type of situation as well.
Steve Statler 32:21
So another tool in the toolbox. You mentioned scale sounds like you're achieving new levels of scale. What can you tell us about that?
Bryan Merckling 32:31
Yeah, we're pretty excited. We're working with Gartner and some other analysts right now to validate. But we're told we have the largest run our way to the largest IoT installation in the world. We have hundreds of 1000s of sensors being deployed. In fact, we're pretty excited, we've got four full time people on side of the customer, just deploying gateways and, and beacons every day. And that looks like it will, it will go in all the way through 2022. So when we talk about scale, we're talking about millions of data points every second, hundreds of 1000s of sensors today. And you know, I talked earlier about the new piece that we're excited about in our toolkit will go from hundreds of 1000s of things to millions of things now, because we're introducing the wilayat stickers into that same environment. So our infrastructure is already there. We do have to add energizers and key areas, but the infrastructure is already there. They're already integrated into our platform. And we're pretty excited this next Monday, we start deploying those stickers. And so we'll go when we're talking scale, we've been talking hundreds of 1000s of things. We'll be talking millions of things now. And so we we believe not only do we have the world's largest IoT deployment, but we're about to put a lot of distance between us and the next next level down.
Steve Statler 34:01
That's really awesome. And, you know, getting us towards connecting absolutely everything. Very good. So taking a step back and looking at IoT. any final comments on where the industry is now versus where it was and where you think it's going to go? What what are the trends that you see in IoT?
Bryan Merckling 34:30
So, I believe we've crossed the chasm. I also believe we crossed the chasm and a lot of lot of the people who crossed the chasm crashed and burned in their projects. And, and you read a lot about that in IoT, it's a real black guy in the industry. So I think we're crossed the chasm. I think people have figured out it can be really important to their business, but I think they're going to be very careful who they partner with in the future. You know, there are a lot of companies, a lot of IoT companies that have been left by the wayside. companies that were really important 24 to 36 months ago, don't even exist today. Because I think they have the wrong focus. And the focus is absolutely, you know, thrill the customer drive the ROI, simplify the use cases for the customer. And I think that's the future of it. I also think the future of IoT is AI backed insights that include human feedback. So I think we jumped so fast to machine generated data, that we forgot that there are people involved in running those machines, there are people involved in and putting those raw materials or turning those raw materials into work in progress and finished product and, and we need to, we need to circle back and gather the important information from those people. If you're gathering that level of data from machines, and people, the AI backed insights are absolutely critical. Because if you're, like I mentioned earlier, we're capturing a million data points every second, you could, you could pollute a data farm in a hurry. We've got some great t shirts that we're about to start giving to our employees that said, save the data farms, you know, let's not pollute the data farms, let's make sure that we we populate the data farms with business insights that have meaning that drive ROI. I think that's the future. I think the people that figure that out that drive towards that. They'll be the people that will be standing beside us competing with us in the future.
Steve Statler 36:47
Yeah, I think many of us are fond of that. Geoffrey Moore Crossing the Chasm model. And it's sort of implied but not always status, which is, yeah, you're gonna have hundreds of people starting that journey, and most of them probably aren't going to make it. So there's a lot of, I think there's a tendency to look at that as being failure, but it's really part of creative destruction, isn't it and you end up having a darwinistic thing. And once people figure out who who's going to make it, then then maybe some of these more conservative customers start to move forward, and they look at some of the progress that's been made in that journey. This may be a bit of an unexpected twist, but I'm interested in any observations you have about the human factors, we've been focusing on the technology here. What does it take to deploy this? Way back when when I was working on the beacon technologies book, one of my favorite chapters actually was when I started interviewing people that we're deploying the technology and, and you realized at the end of the day, you got to get the cooperation of the human beings on your customers site. And anything that you've learnt, I know that you do a lot of work in the defense sector. So maybe it's all very disciplined, and people just do what they're told to do. But any, anything that you want to pass on about what you've learned about dealing with the the human beings that are on the receiving end of this technology,
Bryan Merckling 38:27
yeah, where we were uniquely positioned to understand the human impact because of our our human feedback technology. So if anybody was going to get it, quickly, it was us. But we learned a lot over the last 24 months, especially as our customers have been working to deploy at scale. And the first thing that that we learned that I would, I would make sure people understand is you could sell 100,000 beacons and, and 1000s of gateways, and the customer could have all of the all of the all of the plans in the world laid out to go deploy them, when they go back to work, they're going to get busy. And they're going to get busy with lots of initiatives. And this one gets put with lots of different initiatives. So what we learned is, be very careful upfront to help them understand how to put out a put the tagging of things with stickers and with beacons, how to build that into their everyday business processes. The people at the receiving docks are the ones that should be putting the stickers and the tags on, make sure you've created the technology to make that simple and easy for them. The other thing we learned is anything you can do as the technology provider to take that on your own shoulders, the better and so we We just this was a an amazing setup you didn't even know you were doing this but we just launched thin air Deployment Services all you have to do now is point that a group of buildings that you want thin air enabled and we take care of everything running the cable putting the gateways in attaching the beacons so that you get to the ROI faster than you would have before. So I would say two things make sure you've carefully thought through the business processes and how to how to make sure they understand how to apply the technology themselves, but be absolutely willing to take on the deployment yourself from beginning to end.
Steve Statler 40:40
So Brian, did you get a chance to think about three songs that have some meaning to you?
Bryan Merckling 40:46
Well, I can certainly I have more than three but All right, I'm a very I'm a music I'm a music snob and and all right, I listen to music a lot. I've got a in fact my my weight boat has 10 speakers and two subwoofers on the tower 10 speakers inside the boat and an indoor subwoofer in the hole. So Oh goodness that's all about
Steve Statler 41:16
so where are the subwoofers on the deck I mean you
Bryan Merckling 41:21
so I've got one I've got two on the tower they're built into special speakers that can be outdoors and in the you know on water, and then I've got one down in the hole that's an indoor subwoofer with that just a run everything on my weight boat takes eight car batteries. So we are all about music. I've got plenty of songs and can certainly
Steve Statler 41:46
tell imagine that the whole is like a speaker in itself. It's like generating
Bryan Merckling 41:51
some Yeah, my my sound system on my boat sounds better than my stereo in my house. It's it's, it's a it's a nice way to listen to music. Yeah, I'll put it that way. But let me let me talk three songs. Number one is endless love Diana Ross, Lionel Richie that was sung at my wedding with my best friend 38 years ago. So that's always been an important song to us. From there, I've got to jump to. I'm a huge fan of songs that tell stories. So I love Billy Joel's piano man. I think the story telling inside that song is amazing. And then since I'm choosing different categories, I'll choose I think one of the best instrumentals of all time. That's Hotel California, by the Eagles.
Steve Statler 42:46
Well, I love your choices. That's it's a cleansing. Yeah, so do you have any memories associated with listening to that song Hotel California? What does it conjure up for you?
Bryan Merckling 42:59
Hotel California was it. It was a great High School song, but it's it's a fan favorite on the boat at very high decibel levels. So yeah, a lot of good memories with with Hotel California. Billy Joel, we actually were such a fan. We flew to England to watch Billy Joel at Wembley Stadium outdoors a few years ago. So Piano Man, open air 62 degrees at Wembley Stadium, it's hard to beat.
Steve Statler 43:33
That's awesome. So how did you get to where you are today? How you're the CEO of a successful high tech company. I think a lot of people would like that job. What's your what's your advice to them?
Bryan Merckling 43:52
Well, you know, my journey. My journey started as a programmer, and solution architect for Fujitsu. So I owe my recommendation to people is you want to learn as much as you can along the way. And you want to, you want your horizons to be as wide as possible along the way. So I was a I started as a programmer, became a solutions architect, but I raised my hand to move into pre sales and pre sales support so that I could start to get into sales and then from there, I ramped over to sales eventually moved into operations. I've tried to make sure I had every aspect of running a technology company at least my hands and parts of every aspect of a tech company for ever tried to set out on my own. And once I felt like I was in a in a position to do that. you surround yourself with really good people. I did that at a company called web of phi where I had I was a chief art Writing off certain one of the founders, but had an amazing visionary as the CEO, and no sec Cena, we built a terrific tech company, kind of at the forefront of service oriented architecture, we put a platform there. You know, I, I think that was probably where I learned the most, you know, so I had this great background, but in a position where you're on your own, and it's all up to you and a couple of smart people, that's where you learn the most about what works and what doesn't. And we had the, you know, we had the opportunity to turn web o fi into 160 person company acquired by IBM 30 months from start to acquisition. So it all went fast. And when things go that fast, you have to learn on the on the fly and, and you come up with a pretty good recipe for what works. And so the next set of of advice I would give is, once you know what works, you want to make sure you stay with that as much as you can. Technology, especially leading edge, it's always changing. And you you have to continually reinvent how you're doing things. But there's got to be that core recipe that you know works. And I've used that in every one of my companies, including thin air. And we're, we're in a good position at thin air, we're, we're probably three fourths of the way that I would consider along this journey. And we're getting to the back half of the journey, which is a lot more fun. You've got referenceable customers, you've got revenue, growing revenue, you've got interest from around the world. And this is, this is the fun part. So the last piece of advice I would give in that journey is you got to get through that first part, right, it's hard, you got to get through that first part you got to, you have to build some technology that separates you from everybody else. And you have to this is an absolute requirement, you have to thrill the customers. And once you do that, you can start to move into some interesting areas, which is where we are today.
Steve Statler 47:14
And so how did Webber phi exit so quickly? Because 30 months is pretty amazing. I mean, even in the technology business?
Bryan Merckling 47:21
Yeah, we did. And this is why I'm excited about thin air, we put a platform in place out in front of a tidal wave. So we were smart enough to do our research, you know, work with some analysts we worked with Gartner. Back at web five, we saw the tidal wave that would become service oriented architecture, we got out in front of it, and we put a platform that could could be consumed as a service that could take a lot of costs out of people's journey, you know, service oriented architecture journey, we did the same exact thing at thin air, we, we saw that IoT was going to be huge. When you see a tidal wave of that magnitude, you know, there's going to be a lot of players, there's going to be a lot of players that are in it for the wrong reasons that take people down the wrong journey. So there's going to be a lot of war, you know, war wounds and a lot of horror stories. So we did the same thing. We put a platform in place that made IoT easy and consumable as a service and we put it in place, we put it in, in place out in front of this tidal wave that that is IoT. And that's, that's the part of the of the recipe I don't change. We, we find the tidal wave we get in front of it with a secure platform.
Steve Statler 48:47
Very good. Well, Brian, it's been fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing what you've learned, and I wish you continued success.
Bryan Merckling 48:56
Same to us, Steve. It's always a pleasure. Thank you.
Steve Statler 49:01
Well, if you have them, thanks very much for listening. I thought it was an interesting conversation, we learned a bit about use cases about Brian's formula for success in IoT. We also learned how many sub bass woofers you need to get really good audio on your yard. If you've enjoyed this, please tell your friends tell us rate review us to share on social media. And until next time, wish you farewell and appreciate your