BizTech BizTech Podcasts

58. IoT – Grab huge profits from building EV Charging Stations. With Jason Kaufman

March 1, 2023

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Did you ever think we’d go from selling long-distance to building out nationwide EV Chargers for businesses? Well, now we are. If you love technology and want to hear about some unique and huge projects up for a land grab, now is the time to tune in to hear Telarus’ own Jason Kaufman, Mobility & IoT Specialists talk about some of the custom solutions we’re designing and implementing to pave the way for the future of road travel, not to mention, they could put big $$$ back in your customer’s pockets.

Transcript of episode can be found below.

Josh Lupresto (00:01):
Welcome to the podcast that is designed to fuel your success in selling technology solutions. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering at Telarus. And this is Next Level BizTech.

Josh Lupresto (00:15):
Everybody. Welcome back. We are on a new track here talking about something unique that you have not heard us talk about before. Title of today’s track is how to grab huge profits from building EV charging stations. And I know you’re thinking, wait a minute, I was expecting cloud or security or some of that. We’re gonna hit you with all that stuff, of course. But this is a hot topic and so we wanted to bring it in. We’ve got some great data for you here. And today what we’d like to welcome in here is returning guest Jason Kaufman, our southeast sales engineer, but also our mobility and IoT specialist. Kaufman. Welcome on, man.

Jason Kaufman (00:50):
Hey, Josh. Thanks for having me. You know, third time’s a charm, hoping to, you know, make this one worthwhile.

Josh Lupresto (00:55):
. Love it, man. Love it. Dude. Hey, let’s, let’s talk about your background. You know, give us something interesting about your background that we don’t know kind of how you stepped into this space, right? We know now everybody knows you as your the, the regional engineer out there that crushes it in the southeast. You’ve, you’ve turned in, you’ve somehow moonlight and don’t sleep and do mobility and IoT also. But, but give us a little bit of information on your backstory, right? How’d we get here?

Jason Kaufman (01:21):
Yeah. so my previous role at the, the end of my tenure there, I ran the operations for a desktop as a service micro organization where we ran UCaaS and c a, so the, the whole communication suite within a VDI environment yeah, Citrix and Azure. So I had a well-rounded cloud background. And then when I came over to Telarus, I kind of expanded on that, you know, talking about, you know, all the different types of infrastructure, past SaaS you know, serverless computing. And then one thing that came big was the, the data analytics and management, you know, data lake storage and all that stuff with BI tools. And I really liked how much insights you could get from multiple different areas of data. And that was always a problem previously was, you know, what, what actually business drivers can I get from this?

Jason Kaufman (02:05):
I have data here, data here, and, but I don’t know how to consolidate it and actually get something out of it. So when IoT came up, you know, that was one thing that fit a, a need in the data space was how do I get data from something that’s not necessarily smart? You know, we also have all those like smart devices, you know, the internet of things. How do we get, you know, something that’s not natively software based to provide data to us that, that’s actually insightful. So I really liked the IoT industry and, you know, started looking at the, the network design components of it, what data analytics you could get. And then my cousin actually talked me into getting a couple helium nodes to put at my house and my, my dad’s house. So started messing with that, you know, registering sensors to it through app keys and, and device keys and all that stuff. And it was just a cool overarching thing that I really got interested in and started to you know, talking about it more. And then when I talked to Bob and, you know, he was like, you know what? You sound like you know a little bit about this stuff. How about you you know, tell more people about it. I was like, okay, perfect. So then I spent, you know, a lot of my moonlight time now googling about IoT and love every minute of it.

Josh Lupresto (03:12):
love it. Let, I wanna reset on something here because you’re, you know some people have had experience with Telarus engineering, some people haven’t, but I wanna make sure that people really understand where, you know, this is an emerging technology sector and, and not all the products have been defined. They’re not commoditized. We’re, we’re constantly reinventing use cases based on customer needs. So walk us through your role, right? What, what is Kaufman’s role when a partner comes in? We’re, we’re gonna get ’em super excited about, you know, ev charging and mobility and IoT and all these great things. How do you help them? You know, they, they say, Kaufman, I have this, this thing I need help with. What is your role in that?

Jason Kaufman (03:52):
Yeah, it’s taking an agnostic perspective and coming in and thinking what’s possible and what business drivers are out there and not trying to fit a square through a peg hole. Cause we, we have multiple providers that have all these great solutions, but some may fall short in one area while others, you know, thrive in that area. And it’s really delineating between who is really great for that specific scenario, or do we need to pull in multiple providers to hit the use case and integrate them together? So where, where I sit in the equation is, you know, either be on the, the customer calls with, you know, our partners or be in the background and say, you know what? These, this provider or these providers be really good in this space. Not only yes, they are, but here’s why. And really it’s just taking a look at it from, from the top level down and what strategic initiatives they’re looking for.

Jason Kaufman (04:36):
Do we need to pull in, you know, a cloud provider with an IoT provider and look at it that way? Or is it just, hey, this is all pre-baked into a simple solution with the, you know, use case. That’s, it might not be the exact defined use case. Like for instance you know, one thing we were talking about earlier on the Tuesday, you know, Telarus podcast was, you know, there’s, you know, many use cases for a temperature sensor. What can you monitor a temperature refrigeration unit, a room you know, even a agriculture, you know, needs to be defined temperature. So water, you know, there’s many different things that you could do with one single sensor where it defines multiple use cases. So when you’re defining all these one, all these use cases, trying to see, Hey, where’s this specific swim length fit? There really isn’t one, we’re still defining what all those are. And one of the key points that I got from most of the, you know presentations that Chris Whitaker does is there’s still about 13 trillion Yes. That’s what the t for Telarus trillion dollars left in the IoT market until 2025 or 2035, sorry to, for actually growth and expansion there. So there’s a lot of room that, that our partners have to get in with these customers and provide that true value.

Josh Lupresto (05:45):
All right. So, so let’s talk about, you know, this, this is a, this is a pace of innovation, right? I mean, we talk about mobility, we talk about IoT, and we’re gonna get into the ev charging specifically, but what are you finding valuable, valuable that has helped you learn this, this segment, and how have you applied it right? To really help you keep tabs on everything that’s out there with this big, you know, this, this big box of Legos?

Jason Kaufman (06:08):
Yeah. so one is constant communication with the providers, you know, cause they do the best. So being in the know and having, you know, constant interactions with them. Hey, what’s the latest and greatest? What are you seeing out there? What use cases are you guys currently selling into? How are you doing it? What talk tracks got you to the finish line to overcome any objections that the customer had? You know, that’s really where the, the latest and greatest fits is, you know, how do we actually make this an impactful conversation for a customer rather than saying, Hey, do you need IoT? And one thing that I always do as well is, you know, in the morning when I’m setting records in the gym, you know, I’m also, I’m listening to podcasts about you know, all the latest and greatest tech out there from, you know, the, the cloud.

Jason Kaufman (06:48):
Because cloud’s very important in this scenario because AWS and Azure are consistently upgrading their native support for IoTt and what they’re doing from an internal you know, AI and development phase. I mean, everybody has that event hub where everything can send to, and then you have the integrations with, you know, the, the specific sensors, but what pre-baked scenarios do you have once you’re in there? And then, you know, GCP pulling their stuff out out of, you know, completely, you know, getting rid of their IoT platform this year. So it’s good to be in the know there as well is not only from the cloud side of the house, but IoT with our specific providers.

Josh Lupresto (07:21):
Love it. It’s good. Yeah, I mean, you’re, you’re probably in the most emerging segment here, so there’s definitely a lot, a lot of stuff to pay attention to. All right, let’s, let’s talk about ev charging. You know, we, we, a lot of people grew up in this space where we had just a couple products to sell. And, and, and it seems like every Telarus event we get together, we’re talking about new things, new things on the checklist that we have that we can help customers with. And, and one of those things that you brought to light and I, I said, are, are you serious? The first time you brought this up is, Hey, by the way, we could do this now. You know, ev charging right? Where we’re going with electric and, and, and that whole movement. We can do this, we can build it, we can, we can profit on it, we can help. And there’s just, there’s so much to unpack here. So I would love to hear it from your perspective, how do you see partners tackling this? I mean, this is a, this is a new thing for our space. So walk me through gotchas, how we tackle it, how you’re seeing people approach it and, and what’s working.

Jason Kaufman (08:18):
Yeah, so just like you’re saying, there’s a lot of mandates that are coming down on EV chargers and where they need to be placed. Like car dealerships are one, you, they need to get on board. You need to get out Ford to actually make that very public that you need to have ev charging stations on premises or else you know, they’re not gonna support you anymore and probably get you new, new cars. I haven’t really seen anybody not do that. So I don’t know really what the ramifications are, but I mean, those are real threatening words that are coming down. And we’re also seeing ev charging stations being put in municipalities, hospitals, hotels MDU spaces for apartment buildings. I mean, there’s many different applications for it. The only qualifying question is, do you own the land and do you have a lot of, you know, really any need for EV charging?

Jason Kaufman (09:00):
One of the big talking points is, hey, you know, not only can you provide this service to somebody, you know, be able to charge your vehicle there, but you can actually charge them for the electricity that they’re using. So it’s not just a cost center for you. You can dictate how much you’re charging them. And then all the payment processing goes through the ev charging platform itself. So there are immediate economical benefits of doing this on premise. The only thing you have to really worry about is how much power are you able to push to that EV charging station. Some of the gotchas ran up front where, you know, between the tier one, two or three charging station, you know, everybody wants to tier three, they wanna be able to charge their, their car in 20 minutes or less. Mm-Hmm. . But if you don’t have enough power going to that specific area, I mean, you’re gonna, you’re gonna pull everything from that line and cause issues all around it.

Jason Kaufman (09:46):
So that’s really where the, you know, the only gotchas really that happened, having a site survey and somebody going through that, but charging for the electricity. And then the new cool hotness is, Hey, you know, that’s great and mall, I can make some money when somebody charges my station, but what else can you do to provide me revenue? And that’s where that ad revenue comes in. So that’s a different conversation track, because now we’re less focused on how much money we can save somebody. I mean, that’s been the talking track of value for us, providing more features, said, you know, saving money on the bottom line. But now what if I can get you revenue without lifting a finger? Hey, you install this ev charging station, it has a sign on it that you can dictate how aggressive you want to be from the ads that come on it that are already defined.

Jason Kaufman (10:26):
I mean, you don’t need to go out and, and, you know, make agreement in these companies or anything. This is all one big solution. So, and none of it’s competitive. So if you put it at your restaurant or something, it’s not gonna show other restaurants on the ads. It’s gonna show things that are non-competitive to you. And we’re actually seeing customers make close to, you know, a hundred k a year, a 100K a year per ev charging station with a lot of foot traffic. So all of it’s defined by how many pings a cell phone gets as it walks by a specific area. That’s how they judge the foot traffic. But the more you have, the more money the customer’s gonna get, which also the partners get commissioned on quarterly on that revenue. So now you’re actually talking about opening up those budgets. What other initiatives do you have? Is it something that that expands across cloud, cybersecurity, mobility or even further IoT initiatives? Now you’re opening that budget with revenue, we’re actually then saving money. That’s ROI over time.

Josh Lupresto (11:17):
Yeah, man, there’s, there’s a lot of good stuff to unpack in there. There’s some golden nuggets. I, I want to go back to one of those talk tracks that you mentioned where when you think about, you know, people go and put these deployments in, it sounds like a complicated thing, and the reality is a, it’s not complicated. You know, I’m not gonna say it’s, it’s simple, but there’s a process and the, and you know, suppliers like motis are, are built to be able to go and deploy and survey, and we’re gonna know exactly what we’re jumping into and they’re gonna manage it all. But I mean, as you think about that though what have you, you found that helping partners, right ways to kind of revolutionize what their customers are going through. I, I guess from a perspective of I’m thinking about moving into this rental place, but this rental doesn’t have ev chargers, right? Are you seeing how, how are you thinking about kind of the environmental dynamics and the social dynamics of something like this besides the fact that this stuff that you brought up, that by the way, this makes you money?

Jason Kaufman (12:16):
Yeah, so the first thing that I can definitely say, and, and it’s better than a golden nugget, it’s more like a Dino nugget, is don’t promise that a tier three charger is gonna fit in every single use case. So I, the first part we had, you know, a customer comes out like, Hey, we want a bunch of tier three chargers, you know, they, you know, expense be not, and installing those out, we want the best of the best. So it all comes down to the power requirements there. One of the talking tracks that I’ve also heard work really well is, how would you like us to make your property more valuable? You know, the whole push to ev charging, I mean, at some point that’s gonna be mandated from somewhere. I mean, it, it’s kind like gas stations, you know, you know, same thing’s gonna be happening with ev We’re having way more ev vehicles being, being produced now. I mean, every single company pretty much has at least one or two lines with it. So at some point, it’s gonna provide a ton of value to where it’s gonna be put into an appraisal assessment on some land, whether it’s, you know, apartment complex or, you know, a shopping retail center. You know, there’s gonna be another talk track to where it’s gonna say, not only make you money, but also make everything, all your assets more valuable.

Josh Lupresto (13:20):
Yeah, that’s a good point. It’s just such a different conversation. I just, if you look at all the things that we can go to market with, with a customer you know, via a partner, how many of them are there that we say, by the way, this improves your property value, by the way, this makes you money, by the way, this makes more people want to come to your facility. It’s just, it seems like such a no-brainer, such a land grab.

Jason Kaufman (13:40):
Yeah. We can also, you know, tax incentives. I mean, we’re having a ton of those right now to where, I mean, if it doesn’t pay for itself, I mean, you’re, you know, as long as you’re putting that tax revenue back into the ev charging station, you know, just a, you know, business decision to do that or keep it for yourself. I mean, generally the nominal fee for this stuff is, you know, it makes, makes total sense once you start getting down to the numbers area, overcoming that first objection on why is this physically needed.

Josh Lupresto (14:04):
Right. Makes sense. You you wanna walk us through maybe just a, an example, right? How, how does one of these opportunities start? Or, or, you know, just give us some kind of generic information. If you walked into, we, we, we knew what they needed, we knew what they had and maybe just what are some of the things that, that you encountered in that?

Jason Kaufman (14:22):
Yeah, so most of the ev charging station you know, opportunities don’t even start ev charging. They’re talking about, Hey, how do we get our residents, you know, TV or internet and build them correctly to where we’re not just getting a, you know, a lump at the beginning and we have to figure out how to make it work in the end. And then how do we monetize some of the, the assets that we do have? You know, one of the first things was putting Crown Castle to come in and, you know, do the lease rights up top and, you know, lease the, you know, the, the rooftop to, you know, Verizon, at and t-Mobile or some other carrier that can come in, some private network and, you know, get some value to the customer there. It all starts with, hey, how do we, how do we either make this more efficient or how do we make money here?

Jason Kaufman (15:02):
Cause we’re struggling on getting the revenues that we had last year. So the apartment building complex, that’s kind of where we start there. From a a restaurant perspective, a lot of it is, Hey, what do we do to keep people in the restaurant longer? So we actually have a, I you know, I live in Venice, Florida you know, we actually have a restaurant down here, a burger joint that right off the interstate who installed Tesla chargers because they want people to come charge. It takes, you know, on average 30 to 40 minutes to charge up a Tesla. So you come in, plug in, and then you go in and get a burger and they’re seeing sales skyrocket through the roof. So there’s also business impacts to where, hey, you’re actually ha, you’re forcing somebody to stay there. You’re providing them value. Are they gonna sit in their car and watch Netflix the whole time? No, they’re gonna come in and get a burger and some fries. So it’s kind of thinking other methods of getting revenue rather than just the normal day-to-day operations that they’re solely used to. That’s kind of where, Hey, have you thought about getting revenue this way? Okay, well, how much, how much effort is that gonna be involved with us doing it? It’s like, oh no, you just signed on dotted line. We’ll do it from there.

Josh Lupresto (16:02):
Yeah, it’s interesting. Yeah, so, so many different ways to generate. I, I think opportunities have conversations, add value, lots of great stuff there. All right. You know, as we, as we wrap up kind of the back half of this track, so let’s say I’m a partner, right? I’m, I, I, I understand this, maybe I haven’t pivoted into this space yet, but I’m realizing, okay, it sounds like my prospects are multi-dwelling restaurant gas stations, that kind of thing. Correct me if I’m wrong on that. But then maybe also button us up with how do I start this conversation? What, what do I do to decide, oh yeah, this is a great fit, I need to bring you in.

Jason Kaufman (16:41):
So, you know, getting the, the upfront information is probably the most important part. So you can go back to the customer with a compelling story on, Hey, if you look into this, you know, there’s some estimations that, you know, you could potentially get this much revenue. Cause that’s where the driving is. How much money can you make the customer? So getting that address and, you know, getting with Motus, you know, who is our partner of choice here for the ev charging stations and letting them know, Hey, this is the customer I’m working on that, you know, this is their nameless register, but also here’s their, their address. How much foot traffic do you guys see there within the, the fancy tool that they have? And how much ad revenue do you think that we could get them? Cause I wanna go back to this customer and say, Hey, based on your parameters that we have here, we went through all this due diligence to find out what, you know, how much we can provide value here based on this information.

Jason Kaufman (17:25):
We think we can make you this amount of money, and this is what’s gonna take from you. And defining that type of process that we talked about, you know, we’ll, we’ll come out and do a site survey, you know, we’ll make sure you have the power requirements of what you’re looking to do there and give you the options. You know, we’ll, we’ll look into, you know, how much, what tax incentives you have in your area. You may already know them. But then ultimately, you know, this is gonna be a full managed service. We’re not gonna ship you an ev charging station. You gotta go out out and lift it on a forklift and get it put in yourself, you know, a couple Phillips screw heads and call it a day , you know, we’re, we’re gonna be able to take this thing soup to nuts and get you completely discovered, installed, and supported. Then on, you know, you don’t need to worry about any connectivity issues. All that stuff’s done via cellular built in to the unit. So really it’s an easy button to get you revenue, and it’s just defining that story and painting a picture in their head, how easy it’s gonna be for them, and then what they’re expecting to see afterwards. If you do that due diligence upfront, you can really do a compelling story.

Josh Lupresto (18:17):
Yeah, it’s a good point. I mean, it reminds me of some of the great, one of my favorite strategies that partners used to use when, when UCaaS was just kind of flying off the shelf in that very beginning was walk into a customer’s environment or, you know, look at the phones that they have or call them, try to see what the experience is like, try to get through to sales, try to get through to customer service, and then try to do it with their competitor and help them paint a picture of where are you at, where are you at in the market, and where do you wanna be relative to where your competition is? And does that matter to you? Right? Do you wanna be number one, do you wanna be number two? And so I think this is just more technology to further that agenda and help differentiate these customers and, and generate them profit.

Josh Lupresto (18:51):
I think this is awesome. Great stuff. Okay, final question here is, is as Kaufman looks into his Magic eight ball you know, look, I, look, we’re, we’re, we’re in a, a pace of change, especially an industry like yours that is rapidly, rapidly changing. So we can’t look out too far, but if we look out a little bit, let’s call it 12 months, let’s call it whatever I, I, is the best advice to, to take that conversation in that track that, that we’ve just mentioned. Is there anything else that you want partners to be aware of, of, hey, keep an eye out for this over the next 12 plus months, or what are your kind of final thoughts there?

Jason Kaufman (19:25):
So ev charging stations, I see more options coming out. You know, multiple different OEMs under the hood, you know, multiple ways to, to drive revenue for, for customers and partners. So from that one, I think we’re gonna just gonna scale out and, you know, get, get more options there. From an IoT perspective, I, you know, just like the last podcast we had on IoT, I think really the biggest improvement we’re gonna see is from the AI and ML analytics. I mean, with, with all the new AI technology coming out and the mainstream media hitting it, you know, chat GPT for example. I mean, everybody’s big push for AI and what it could do to simplify everyday living, you know, not just from a business perspective, but from a traditional user space, residential or, or commercial. What can it do to make our lives a lot easier, more efficient?

Jason Kaufman (20:09):
I think we’re gonna see a lot of that from the IoT space because it gives us insights to where we didn’t have them before and how much you can automate by seeing something from a sensor or a video camera, and then have it do something specific after that. And then also I think we’re gonna see a bigger you know, more baseline analytics from video ai. So not only establishing a baseline on either who someone is, you know, what something is the color of something, you know, behavioral analytics, but then driving, you know, something on that. Some, some form of automation remediation task based on that. Whether that’s tracking, you know, not notification or just for business insights to sell to a marketing company. So I think there’s a a lot there that we can do too.

Josh Lupresto (20:54):
Love it. Good stuff. Lots to unpack, lots of great stuff here. Lots of I call ’em golden nuggets. I guess we’re calling ’em Dino Nuggets now. I’m gonna have to go stop at Costco this weekend and probably get some of those. But Kaufman, hey man, that lots of great stuff. Appreciate you coming on, buddy.

Jason Kaufman (21:08):
Yeah, thanks for having me. And I do wanna clarify one of my statements earlier about setting records in the gym. Obviously if you’ve met me before, you know, it’s not, you know, lifting many weights, it’s more just taking a nap , or longest time spent at the drinking fountain, crying . So, so yeah, thanks for having me. Always enjoy being on the podcast and hit me up if you guys wanna learn more about Mobility IoT and make some money.

Josh Lupresto (21:28):
Awesome. Love it. Okay, everybody that wraps us up for today, EV Chargers, profits, more mobility, lots of good stuff. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering. Jason Kaufman Mobility and IoT, Telarus Sales Engineer.