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Intrapreneurship, Internal Incubation, Spinoffs, and IoT Product Development

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Many of the world’s greatest innovations emerge from intrapreneurship. Given the space to incubate tangential ideas, employees often create products that become the basis for successful spinoff companies.


In today’s episode, we chat with Bob Marshall and Joe McNulty from Whisker Labs — a company born out of intrapreneurship. Bob is the Founder and CEO and Joe is the SVP of Product and Partnerships.


We discuss:

- The origin story of Ting

- Intrapreneurship and innovating within a company

- Analyzing whether a personal mission has legs as a business

Any questions for our guests? Contact Bob at Bob@whiskerlabs.com and Joe at Joe@whiskerlabs.com.

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And that's that's a problem today with a lot of IOT devices, the fracture between the promise of what it's going to do for you and the ability of the consumer to adopt it in their home easily in their home. You are listening to over the Air Iot connected devices and the journey, brought to you by vary. In each episode we have sharp, unfiltered conversations with executives about their IOT journeys, the mistakes they made, the lessons they learned and what they wish they'd known when they started. Welcome back to over the Air IOT connected devices in the journey. My name is Ryan Prosser, ceeo vary, and this is luke will j product obficer buried, and today we're joined by Bob Marshall, founder and CEO of whisker labs, and Joe mcnalty, senior vice president of products and partnerships, and we're going to be discussing entrepreneurship, internal incubation, spinoffs and Iot product development. Bob and Joe, thanks for being on the show. Hey, great to be here, Ryan Luke having us. So, Bob, you've now founded two detection companies that are designed for what I would characterize as risk management. Can you walk us through you know your story and where you know you'll have an obvious passion in this area. Like to give us a little bit of your background? Yeah, you know, I'm engineer by background, but I've always been a data guy. So everything I've done in my career is basically been deploying sensors in some form or another and trying to find really small, tough signals in the noise. And you know, I'm one of the CO founders of a company called Earth networks and you know, at that first company that I helped co found, we built the world's largest climate and weather networks and you know, we deployed sensors that were connected to the Internet all over the world and really that was like Iot, but it was actually before Iot was even a word to be known. So cool. And so take us from Earth Networks to take, for folks who don't know, Ting basically designed to do one thing and do it extremely well, which is detect presence with a potential for an electrical fire in a home. Is that right? Can tell us a little bit more? Yeah, definitely. So, look, one of the one of the networks that we created, an earth networks. And going back to Earth Networks, here was a global lightning detection network. So we had sensors literally all over the planet and they were, you know, electromagnetic sensors, so we actually sense the pulsive energy that travels across the earth when there's a lightning flash and we identified that and then we provided and sold that data to people like NASA and, know, the national football league and everybody that was really concerned about safety, right safety and operations and and that was, you know, very sophisticated sensors that were deployed and we collected massive amounts of data in the cloud to do that. And you know, it really was a you know, the catalyst for the the new company, whisker labs was, you know,...

...unfortunately, a catastrophic event at my sister in Law's house. So, you know, she experienced an electrical fire. It was a devastating fire. Unfortunately lost a pet. Fortunately none of the family died, but it was a total loss and and you know, I didn't know anything about electrical fires at that time. You know, I do. You know, quickly looked into them a little bit and you see that they start by tiny arcs or sparks that happen. Sometimes they're very insidious. They can be inside of the walls, it's a loose connection or damaged wire. Turned out to be a cord in the basement underneath the couch, you know, in her house. And these things start out very, very small. You know, once you have a damaged wire or loose connection, it can only get worse over time and eventually it can start an electrical fire and they're the worst fires that impact homes and you know, so the you know, my instinct was, well, can we solve that problem? We've got the best electromagnetic engineers on the planet. We're detecting sparks in the sky, you know, all over the world, and an arc and a spark in the skies in many ways very similar to what happens when an electrical fire starts in the home. But they're tiny, tiny, much smaller orders of magnitude, different in size. So I challenged our team to say, can we leverage all of our experience and technology from the lightning detection that work and solve this problem? One of the things that like strikes me about Ting is you, like I said it kind of at the beginning of questions, you guys are solving a very specific thing. Just sort of the hall mark of of successful technology companies. They focus on doing a thing and do it really well. You guys have nailed that. But talk about like I know that you have an affinity for solving hard problems, looking around until you've found an engineering problem that's really difficult it's worth being solved. But you also have, you know, kind of a culture for Kiss You keep it simple, stupid. How do you guys think about this, these maybe seemingly conflicting ideas of like elegance and simplicity and product development while also looking for hard, complex problems? Yeah, you know, it's it. We've always tried to do things that have never been done before at some level, right, and they've never been done before because they're really, really hard at some level. And and so we try to solve very hard problems. You know, from a business perspective, you know if you can, if you can solve something that nobody has solved before, obviously it's pretty hard and if you can do that then you're building yourself a mode, right. I mean that that is difficult for somebody to replicate it. So it's always nice to have you know, core technology that is super hard to replicate, right, and that's what we did at Earth networks and certainly even by a long shot, that's what we've done with thing, because you know that problem and it can again. We incubated inside of earth networks. I kind of stole the best engineers that we had and we incubated the effort inside of earth networks and it took us the better part of two or three years. I mean it looked like it was on the wrong side of impossible to actually find these tiny, tiny little spark signals in a sea of noise. I...

...mean everything in your home is producing noise and putting it on your electrical lines and we had to find these tiny, tiny signals and it was it was just it really looked impossible. We finally had a Eureka moment Thanksgiving one year. I remember that weekend and saying, oh my Gosh, I think we've done it, we've solved you know, we think we can find that signal in the noise. And then it was you know, then you really you know, we knew the problem was big. We we knew we had a core piece of technology that we thought we could work but then it was really how do you make it simple, right? I mean I am a huge believer in that. You can't have particularly for something that's going to be for consumers. It's got to be really, really simple. It's got to be DIY, there can't be maintenance involved. It's got to be elegant. You know, in the end we just came up with a plug, right, it did you and the end the product is very straightforward. It's just a plug. It's a super smart plug. You Plug it in, you connected to Wi fi and we sampled the electricity thirty million times a second and send a bunch of data to the cloud and do machine learning and all that good stuff that you know we want to do in the IRT space. But it was a super hard problem and we needed and the hard part was actually making it do it with one single plug to monitor the whole house and make it simple and elegant. That way. One of the things that that Joe shared in the in the pre interview that I thought was interesting. You know, I think maybe at a further upstream moment in your product development timeline, maybe I'm like not capturing this anecdote exactly right, but like there was a more complicated version of the product. That solved it. But you said, look at this isn't going to be technically solves the problem, but this is not going to work for the for the further customers and the customer base that we're cultivating. Can you talk about that a little bit? Sure I can. I can do that. I mean in your clothes, Ryan. I mean at the end of the day, we first develop the sensor that, you know, we thought well it were on the main panel, were closest to all the all the wires in the home. Right, every wire is connected at your main panel. If we can get a sensor on there, it might be a little easier to monitor the whole house. And it was just fraught with problems. Unfortunately, it wasn't diy. And there's you know, there's a percentage of homes that don't have wifi down at the panel. Sometimes there's not even power at the panel right, there's not a plug to plug something in. It's terrible. And for that those reasons, in a couple more even after we know we had invested a lot of time and a lot of money in that, the version of that sensor, and you know, just the conclusion was that that's just not going to scale. It's not easy enough. We need to make it easier and simpler for the consumer and ultimately we're able to make it work with just a plug. And that's that's a problem today with a lot of IOT devices. The fracture between the promise of what it's going to do for you and the ability of the consumer to adopt it in their home easily, in their home right. It's so bob to your credit, you saw that fracture early on and said this is not going to do that, we're not going to be serving our customers well. I think you noticed that a lot, especially, as you kind of pointed to...

...point it out earlier, the consumer facing products. There's a lot of complexity that goes into making hard things really easy to use. I got to think about it like if you pull all your eyephone you're like, within like two clicks, the biggest connected, updated and working as a phone. That is a very nontrivial thing, and so is this. You take something as hard to do as detecting microarching on a complicated grape with tons of noise on it, and all you got to do is plug the thing under the wall and boat it's going to tell you if you have at risks and it's a really elegant, really growing absolution. Yeah, I did. Definitely. It's, you know, it's definitely wasn't for the faint of heart. I mean it it's tens and tens of millions of dollars that have gone into making that thing work right. So it's a big investment of a lot of time, you know, and you know. But once you get there right, I think you know, we're solving an important problem. You know, it's fiftyzero homes a year that are impacted by electrical fires, the worst fires. It's billions of losses, thousands of lives that are impacted by these things. And you know, and it's a global problem too. So we you know, we know we've got something that can you know, you got to solve a problem right at the end of the day, you got to solve something that's important, you know, and that's what you need to have a good business. That's right. Yeah, so the next topic that I wanted to bring up. I think people that there's going to be a good portion of folks at home that will this topic is going to resonate the interesting, what interested interesting to them, entrepreneurship, you know. So this this spun out of earth networks and think there's probably a lot of folks out there that are at larger companies running initiatives and they're wondering things like how do I know if my initiative is right to be spun out? How do you innovate within a company that's doing maybe a tingentially different thing? So like lightning detection to you know, Home Electrical Fire? Obviously, I don't know. That's a tangential technology in my mind, related for sure, but like, obviously it was different enough that you guys felt like it made sense to spin it off. What can you talk about that, that journey from you guys as perspective, and maybe also share some anecdotes for that entrepreneur out there that's listening, that's innovating within a company? Questions that maybe you wish you had had answers to prior things you what you'd know then? Yeah, you know, and I think in many cases it's going to be somewhat unique to the company that you're originating in. But in our case, you know, earth networks had grown over many years to be a, you know, midsize company, right. We had two hundredwo hundred and fifty people and and the business had grown and and was relatively stable and profitable and all that stuff. And then, you know, this opportunity came along to to leverage some core Ip and core expertise that we had and apply it to a different problem. And, you know, we were fortunate enough to be able to invest a lot of money out of the earth networks, you know, and and invest in it inside of that company. And it was a skunkworks incubation, right. I mean we kind of literally cording our self off from everybody. We did nothing else but see if we could solve this problem. And we had the luxury to do that once we and again we made sure that there was an opportunity there to right...

...first. I mean, you know, before we actually spent money. Don't want to solve a problem just to solve a problem. I mean, any is there a business opportunity there? Is it going to be something that people care about? And that that was actually easy. I mean that, you know, there's Fiftyzero, it's billions of dollars, right, and there's a lot of people that would like to solve this problem. It's particular, especially the insurance company. So so that was pretty easy. And then that it was a matter of does this fit within the original company Earth Networks? Right, it's a new product, it's a new market, it's a completely different business model. And then we needed to actually you know, even though we had solved the core technical problem, it wasn't a product yet. So we still need to invest a lot of money in it to bring it to market. And you know, we're we going to raise capital inside of earth networks. And what would that thesis just didn't fit and the capital structure of earth networks. And so we said the only way to actually invest in it appropriately would be to spin it out as its own entity. Then we could raise capital on this one idea. Right, this is a different idea, it's a new business and we could focus the capital. Would understand it that we're going to focus, we're going to develop this product, we're going to make this happen. And that would have been difficult to do or probably impossible to do inside of earth network. So we decided to spin it out and that wasn't that's that's a pretty significant effort to write and spent out the legal work and everything else was not insignificant, but definitely I think in the end the right thing to do. If you were sitting down for a beer was somebody that was thinking about spinning out, what's like, what are two or three questions you would ask them before, you know, you felt like you could advise them like what are two or three key things they should be thinking about? or You'd be looking at to assess whether or not it made sense or, if it did make sense, how to best move forward. You know, I think one, are the customers the same right as the business model similar? Are you selling the same people as it is it going to be a similar business to operate? And you know, if it is, then maybe it belongs inside of that company. So I think that that's certainly there. And then that's number one. And then number two. I think it really comes down to, you know, the the level of investment in this structure, of the potential investment that you need to make. I mean, are you going to be able to raise capital enough and adequately to fund it inside of the existing company, or is it better spun out into a new company? And then you have to look all the way down the road to the potential exit. To write. I mean who are the potential you know, where's the company going to end up? Right? You're going to end up being a public company, you're going to end up being acquired by somebody, and doesn't make sense to be inside of the original company. Or is it better? You're going to get a better outcome if you have a company that is very, very focused on doing something well, and, Bob, I might add, from a human capital perspective. Right, we talked about it before. You said you stole the employees. I might argue that they came along willingly. Not only that, they raise her hand, said this is a really big problem and this is really meaningful and I want to come along. Right, we did great stuff in worth networks, but I'm going to move out and I want to come with whisker labs now. I you...

...know, look, I think stand our chief scientist story. I mean stand heck Dr Heckman from Mit. I mean he was literally the world's leading lightning expert. I mean he's known across the world as the guy that knows more about lightning than anything and I think it was not even a remotely difficult decision for him he's like, I think I can have a bigger impact on the world by coming to whisker labs and solving this problem. It's going to have impact, more positive impact, on more people than than earth networks. It's interesting, even though your company, Earth that works, was successful and afforded you the opportunity to be able to invest people on time and somebody to get this thing to a certain point where you kind of de rested enough to want to spin out a company. I worked a couple of battery chemistry technologies, which are just world, you know, is notable for how hard they are to solve and how it's very hard to plan invention. And I'm and in what your chemistry world you kind of have to do that. And I'm wondering did you feel about the time you decided to spin this out as a company? You know you were going to have to invent the thing, like this was a solvable problem. It's just a really hard problem, but you have to invent the new solution to get there. Yeah, we we. We had to get it to the point that we are confident that we could build a product right. I mean we you know, we had to find, you know, the hardest part was just finding the signal in the noise, I mean, you know, and that was the all lab work. I mean we're literally working in each other's homes and creating sparks and got censors all over the place and, you know, doing the whole thing like you're in the garage, right. And then once we once we actually proved it and convinced ourselves that yes, we can find that signal, we know how to find that signal, you know, then we could produce a product and that's when it makes sense to think about spinning it out. One of the things that we do at very is, you know, we and we make a lot of investments in technology companies, and often that investment will be not just cash, but we will, you know, place people into that project on, you know, in a long term or indefinite basis. It could have sort of in kind investment, if you will, and that creates, that keeps our kind of leadership ranks moving along because, like there's not this issue where at the top there's nowhere to go, so therefore there's no for the middle folks to go and so forth. was there any sort of effect like that at Earth? That works like when you brought people over. Did you guys find, expectedly or unexpectedly, that that created some dynamic changes in it over at Earth? That works in terms of presenting new opportunities, because other folks had a chance to jump over onto this new venture. where. Is there any like team dynamics, surprising or otherwise, that you can share? Well, I mean I there's definitely a couple of those cases. I mean a couple key folks that that at earth networks had kind of reached a level that that you know, you know was there. How much opportunity was there for them, but you know, when they came over here, you know they're they're now key, senior people right on this team and it you know, it's a different culturally. It has to be somebody, you know,...

...that was willing to take a risk to I mean right, we if we didn't shut down that original piece of hardware and product and we should have failed. I mean you know, and you absolutely have a absolute chance you're going to fail and this company is going to go away. Right, as soon as we untethered ourselves and we're on our own. I mean your job is at risk, right, if we're either going to sink or swim and you know, fortunately so far we've been able to swim pretty well, but that's not guaranteed, right, right. So, so thinking about like seek versus swim or that risk reward kind of thought process. When you were, when you guys were preparing to take that lead, what technical challenge or nontechnical challenge were you most nervous about? And you were like this is the tall building that we've got to be able to leap if we're going to be successful. Can you talk about what that thing or things might have been? Yeah, you know, it's interesting in one of the things where you know very good at is just gigantic data. We did that at Earth Network. So that was never a concern for me. I mean we collect terabytes of data per day, coming off as censors all over the place. That was fine. It was just really that that these tiny signals, right. I mean this product is a life safety product, right. So we are, as we look at it, we are so all super passionate and internally we are responsible for protecting our customers in their families, in their homes. I mean that we we carry that as a great responsibility and ensuring that that works in almost all cases is a big, you know, huge deal and and not easy and in fact, I always make sure to say I mean we cannot and will not prevent every electrical fire, even though essentially we've done that so far. You know, no product is perfect and you know we're responsible. So every day we worry about can we keep pushing the machine learning algorithms, the signal processing algorithm on the sensor to get to that next level, Eke out a little bit more signal to noise, give ourselves a better chance to make sure we detect these little tiny problems that cause these horrible fires and also do it. You know, the other side of that is do it without false alarms. To I mean you can't, can't cry wolf and tell a homeowner that they have a electrical fire hazard if you're not right. So for so far we've been right every time too. So it's really those two things. It's you have to detect the problems, not cause falsile arms. I can see I could tip being very expensive. Of all the sudden people start showing up and ripping open walls and house are installed into. So yeah, that could be a like an none and we're responsible. We send an electricians. I'd beyond US right, it's to be a horrible experience. I mean, and that was actually our, you know, you know, number one worry actually, once we could felt comfortable, we could detect the signal that we're looking for, how many times are we going to think there's a problem and there's not? I mean not. That was actually the biggest worry up front, once we could detect the signal and then, but that has turned out to be not a problem. I think are you know, fortunately, the machine learning does a great job. They're of distinguishing, you know, normal stuff, because there's arching that happens in the home that's normal, right,...

...all the time, and you know, but we can figure that out. One of the things that's really interesting about Ting is, you know, because of the nature of fire, like your house is on fire, that you know it brings risk to your neighbors and your neighborhood and sort of the nature of fire. So like the more things that are out there, the safer everyone is, you know. So like there's a share, and I use the analogy of the key chain. Guys, what's their name? Luke, that apple is currently about to eat their lunch tile and so, you know, you've got this tile APP and it's great for finding your phone and but like your phone, is also helping find other people's tiles. So you've got this network effect. The more users there are, the more valuable it is for everyone. Can talk about I think a lot of people out there are listening and they are thinking, Hey, my product has network effects. I think people underestimate how hard it is to get to a place where that network effects becomes valuable and all strategies are the same. Can you talk about, like tings kind of thoughts on network effects and how you guys have gone about trying to achieve success there? Yeah, I mean I think there's two. There's in network effect to me is gigantic. I mean I am like a huge, huge believer in overwhelming problems with data, I mean and and having, you know, millions and millions of sensors right now. Let's not literally the value of the network goes up with the square of the number of sensors in the network. Right it's exponential. And you know, I think in our case there's network effects on the technology side and the data side, and then there's network has effects on the business side and the marketing side. So on the technology side. You know, one thing, a single thing, protects a single home and prevents electrical fires. But as soon as the community has a network of things, we see incredible detail on the electric utility grid. So we are detecting faults every single day all over the country that are really bad power quality problems and in the in the western states, these are the faults that cause some of these devastating wildfires that we've all heard about in California and all the western states. So we quite literally have the opportunity to detect these faults in very early stages with our network of things, notify the utilities and all lot give them the information they need to get technicians out up and prevent these things from happening. And when you think about that, I mean these some of these fires like the Campfire and Paradise California, right. I mean that's it was. It was unbelievable, right, the damage. It was like twenty billion dollars that one fire and like a thousand people and it was like the worst ever, right, and it was a utility fault that was the cause for that. And you know, so we're going to you know, we are seeing incredible high resolution data early detection of faults on the grid. And you know, the utilities are going to be customers because...

...they, you know, we have valuable information for them and they need to have it. They need to have that information. They don't have it today, and they benefit from the network of things. I think the toy is almost can't not be customers. It's like reckless and somewhat irresponsible to not be a customer of that kind of data accessibility. I think that's that's that's really right look in the end, because it's they you know, it's a network that is just growing on its own. Right I mean the network, everything that comes to the network. The machine learning gets better, the the monitoring the grid gets better. It's happening without any input from, you know, the utilities because, you know, our primary customer are the insurance companies. State farm insurances are lead cut you know, lead customer, and they're they'll give away a ting to any customer that wants it, knowing that it's going to help prevent electric fires, but then it's also going to contribute to the monitoring of the grid, feeding, feeding on that thread and then maybe following up a little bit on apple's more reset efforts to make your opting into having your data track and your data shared. I wonder have you seen any issues with that with your customers? They're willingness to be able to share their data and and how to have these that they bought it that whole sale, because it's obviously good for everybody, or is there been any pushback on that? Really is not been any pushback. It's a great question. I mean, it's because obviously everybody sensitive to privacy and privacy is a huge deal to us. I mean so, I mean first and foremost, I mean the nice the nice thing about this product, you know, unlike some others, right, is I mean there's no camera, there's no microphone. I mean all we do is just monitor the voltage. So we don't even have much energy use and we just monitor the voltage to detect arcs. So so there's really nothing sensitive in that way, you know. But the customers that you know, we do provide the information to utilities, right. I mean if you're if the utility that's serving the power to your home is sending dangerous power to your home, it's also impacting your neighbor's homes, right, and so if the neighbors and the community can come together to provide that information to the utility. It's in everybody's interests for that right. It's so the only information we will share with anyone, no third party distribution of data is to our partners that are going to prevent fires at the end of the day, right, that's the only thing we do on on the topic of kind of closing loop on network effects, are going back to that briefly. You guys have so we did our original pre interview back in February. It's now June. We pushed it because you guys had an exciting and announcement that you weren't ready to go public with at that time. Can you talk about this state farm partnership and you know it's impact on network effects and kind of how they're looking at it? They're not really looking at this as a resell opportunity. They're seeing this as an opportunity to prevent home fires, therefore reduced claims, of course, which is fine. Everybody wins in that world. But can you talk about the the partnership and how this has come about with some of the goals are? Yeah, definitely. When state farm has been a just a fantastic...

...partner number one. They've they jumped on board very early on, went through a lot of testing. Obviously they're very sensitive to providing anything to their customers unless they know it absolutely works. So we did, you know, just a lot of leg work with them. But at the end of the day, the insurance companies are really undergoing a significant change in their business. I mean it's there's lots of digital insurance companies now, not the the you know, the old school companies have been around forever and you know the idea that that the insurance company is just going to pay you after you've had some catastrophic loss. You think about in the in today's IOT world. I mean how does that make any sense? Right? I mean insurance companies ultimately the ones that are going to win are the ones that are going to help their customers and prevent the losses, right. I mean then not just make a lot more sense than then, you know, just waiting till after the event. Mean what differences there make whether you get, you know, paid back from state farm or some other customer, I mean some other insurance company. Right, prevention is the key to the future of insurance. I think. Yeah, reminds me of I think ten or fifteen years ago when they started the car insurance arms of the insurance companies with those under dash plugins to monitor driving and give discounts to folks that were doing things the right way. You view the I take it you view this is kind of like the home version of something like that. It is similar. I think there's a couple small differences are but now it is I mean there's those, you know, the car telematics companies. There is a number of them, number one and and, and they're very popular and and the customers generally like them. I don't think there's a lot of data to suggest that it actually reduces claims. You know, it doesn't prevent accidents. People drive the way they're going to drive generally. But you know, in our case we absolutely can prevent these devastating losses that families have to go through and that's just a better thing, right. I mean, if you go back to state farms there, their slogan is like like a good neighbor state farmers there, and in this case they're literally just trying to help their customers and they believe strategically that doing the right thing for their customers is going to be good for their business in the long run, and that makes total sense to me. So stay farm, of course, is famous for their advertisements. They have a lot of like big names, celebrities that they utilize, whereas you know, Guiko leans more heavily on cartoon. If you could have, you know, a beer or glass of whiskey with any celebrity, you know, you're hey, you know, take our see farm, you know, take a look at this guy who out there at TV land, do you wish would be the next state farm spokesman that you might have a chance to rub shoulders with? You know what I mean? I think, you know, it may be one of their existing smokes one, because Aaron Rodgers, obviously the the quarterback for Green Bay, is from California. He's from Chico, if I recall, and after that Paradise Fire I think he donated, you know, a significant amount of his own money to help the community there recover. You know, I think he would be somebody that would be a hundred percent behind what the heck we're trying to do and I think it'd be awesome if he got behind our cause.

As a couple of bottom or natives, I really think we need to give them, our Jackson, an opportunity to maybe on this discussion that. I'm off for that. Yeah, go right, right. So my last question is around the personal aspect of this story, your products. I mean at very we're big fans of what you guys are doing. Our engineers like really hard problems solved with like elegant solutions, which is, I think, how we would view with you guys have done. Too often what we see is people that come to us with an idea or a company borne out of something personal and they did very often or not good, you know, because they're born out of that personal anecdote. If you were advising somebody or to those out there that have an idea or a company borne out of this personal moment, what are some things to be thinking about to help them take a like objectively look at this and say, is this legitimately something the world needs, yes or no, or is this just you know, your cat named Larry needed this one time, you know, but there is no market. How how were you thinking about it? How would you encourage others to think about it when there's this personal aspect? Mean and number one, I think the personal aspect is important in many ways and it is kind of something that has been a lot of success stories around that right and in our case it happened to be my sister in law's house and and the terrible experience that she had. So that really was the catalyst and it really makes you a passionate about trying to solve a problem when you've gone through something and seeing a family go through something like that on the other handside you then you just have to be completely dispassionate right on the business side. I mean, is there a business opportunity or not? And in my case I knew nothing about electrical fires, but it only took a few google searches to see that, holy cow, these things are bad and there's billions of dollars lost and there's billions of dollars being spent trying to solve this problem and nobody solved the problem. So I said, you know, so it really didn't. You know, we definitely did the market research and, on being running, Joe's done a lot of it too. I mean so we we did that up front to know, before we went off and spent millions of dollars trying to solve a problem, that that there was a real opportunity, but the passion, you know, I you know, just in terms of our team here, I would say, you know, a lot of our success, I think, is just because it's not just me. I think the team just feels an incredible passion around solving this problem and helping families, right it it's like an incredible high every day that it happens, right when there's a you know, we find a problem, we find it, we fix it and it would have potentially been a devastating fire that costs lives. Right. So that passion behind that is really, you know, motivates this every single day. Yeah, Bob, I would I would also add that, you know, it wasn't personal for us, right, so we're a little bit separated from that, but...

...it's a different type of passion, right. So, you know, the business side you actually have to have that business hat on, right, but when you've taken that personal experience, and the advice would be basically when you're talking with someone who's got this thing, it's very personal for them to turn it into something that's really a true north for everybody at the company, but you're actually trying to solve that for the next person. So you're you're separating yourself a little bit from the personal experience, but you're also turning that into kind of like your North Star, right, which is basically how do I do this for the next person, and not just next person but for everyone who is concerned about this type of problem? I think the it's personal to a whole lot of people in California. Now I can tell you that I lived through the past year when the whole sky was orange for week that and people can go outside, can breathe in, schools were closed like it was a very terrible experience. So I think they're there's nobody that's not going to appreciate the benefit and the value of something like this. We appreciate that for sure. And it has been bad and unfortunate. Looking like another potential bad year coming up, right. You're already in a terrible draught. So Yep, yeah, and I shared with you previously. Are you know we're having our house redone and our contractor raced out of here last Friday because his house was on fire. It was an electrical fire house, burned totally to the ground and you know, not relevant to tings product and and it, but you know, it may have prevented that, but once it was under way, you know, it was just compounding failures. The Fire Department showed up and they didn't know how to use their to operate, they did not know how to operate their own fire truck, and so the house burned to the ground while the fire department was, you trying to get it going, which is just, I think, like a cautionary tail that, like prevention, is so much better than than solving it once. It's other way, because fires are very unpredictable and it's simply having a fire truck show up or, you know, catching it early is often not enough. And so yeah, now that's right. And smoked it. You know, smoke detectors. Obviously it is a very important part of any home safety plan and their essential. We always make sure all of our customers know that. But they only tell you that you have a fire after the fact, right, I mean it, there's already a fire when they're going off. I mean the idea that you can try to prevent some of these things. If you can do it, it's obviously way better than having your smoke alarm go off. So we're moving to wrap here with this episode. I got two more questions for you quick ones. Number One, you know, you guys are in the iote space. Where in the IOTE space? As you look across the landscape, what product or company out there are you seeing that you're fan of, somebody, that you appreciate their work? You like a particular product that maybe others don't know about? What do you see in that you like out there right now? Look, I like the simplicity, you know, of the mean of the nest products. I have quite a few nest products in my my home, and and they're they're simple right. They were simple there install and and the user experience is great, and you know so. I you know,...

...even though they've been around a long time, right there, and nothing like a start up anymore, but they still produce good products. Yep, agreed. I'm a nest user as well. Well, Bob and Joe, I really appreciate your time. If folks wanted to be able to reach out after the episode with questions or thumbs up on things they heard here today, how can they find you guys? Yeah, obviously hit me up on Linkedin, or Bob at whisker labscom fire me an email anytime. And Joe for the folks at home. How can they find you? Same thing, Joe, at whisker labscom. You can go to Ting firecom as well to check things out and hit me up on Linkedin, fireman. I always thought what you did there. What's up? What's up? Fire me an email. We saw what you did there. I I old have it all right, a little word plan it to play us out here today. Those at all. Thanks for listening, Bob and Joe. We appreciate your time. Thanks for coming on the show today. Hey, Ryan Luke, thanks, enjoyed it. Thank you. You shouldn't have to worry about IOT projects dragging on or unreliable vendors. You've got enough on your plate. The right team of Engineers and project managers can change a pivotal moment for your business into your competitive edge varies. Close Knit crew of ambitious problem solvers, continuous improvers and curious builders know how to turn your ideas into a reality on time and up to your standards, with a focus on mitigating risk and maximizing opportunity, will help you build an Iot solution that you can hang your hat on. Let's bring your Iot idea to life. Learn more at very possiblecom you've been listening to over the air, Iot connected devices and the journey. If you enjoyed today's episode, make sure to hit subscribe in your favorite podcast player and give us a rating. Have a question or an idea for future episode? Send it to podcast at very possiblecom see you next time.

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