BizTech Next Level BizTech Podcast

69 IoT: What do propane tanks, cows, and air quality sensors have in common? With Ken Mills

May 17, 2023

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What do Propane tanks, cows, and air quality sensors have in common Listen in today with special CEO guest, Ken Mills of EpicIO. Ken talks backstory, but more importantly, the evolution of the company and how they’re assembling and productizing some key IoT solutions that many businesses need and have life-saving potential. While the title may sound wild from agriculture and produce to medical and RSV season, those are all things your customers are asking for help with!

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’ve got a wild episode for you today here. The title of this episode is What Do Propane Tanks, cows and Air Quality Sensors have in Common? And you’re thinking that’s, that’s not CCaaS. That’s not security. When the world are we gonna talk about today we’re not gonna give it away, but we’re gonna get to it cuz they’re all important and it’s technology and it’s fun. So today I would like to welcome on back to the show as we did a fireside chat a while back. Ken Mills, CEO of EPIC iO. Ken, welcome on.

Ken Mills (00:45):
Thanks, Josh. You know, a long time listener, first time caller, , and with that title I I had to bring the shirt that I felt was appropriate. You know, I like big data and I cannot lie. So I think we’ll get into a bunch of topics and should be fun. Thanks for having me.

Josh Lupresto (01:00):
Love it, man. Let’s jump in. I, I want to hear your, your personal background story for anybody that that is not gonna go. And, and listen to our awesome fireside chat. I thought, thought we talked about some cool stuff, and we did the studio. Give ’em a little bit of a background. Just you personally, you know, how, how did you get into this? How has everything come together? Where did you start out and, and, and, you know, how did you get where you’re at now?

Ken Mills (01:20):
Yeah, I think one of the most interesting aspects is my mom is the nerd of the family. You know, she read every manual still does you know, reads every blog, watch, every watches this, every Apple keynote you know, she is on top of what’s going on. And I just kind of picked that up as a kid. And, you know, we were early in the bulletin board days you know, with 56 K modems when those were cool. Mm-Hmm. if they ever were I guess they were pre-work back then. And, you know, AOL chat rooms, which are, you know, the bane of our existence and all of those experience taught me about computers and, and got me hooked on, on the technology. And I just kind of grew up in, in that space of loving tech and, and loving to learn new things.

Ken Mills (02:06):
And I’m just a big nerd at heart. And so, you know, I jumped at a chance to join Cisco Technologies way back when after bust when they were looking for a number of growth areas and non-traditional markets. So they started this what they called emerging technologies team, where we were out there looking for new adjacent businesses, either new customer segments, new technologies, new acquisitions, and we built a team to go build those, go-to markets and build those businesses where most of the people we talked to that we said we worked for Cisco, they’d be like, oh, I know the food company. Like no different Cisco you know, Cisco networking. And, and so, you know, we didn’t have that brand power in these adjacent markets that we had in routing and switching at the time. And so it was fun.

Ken Mills (02:49):
I learned a lot about how to, you know, take technology from an idea into, you know, an actual market and, and grow it. And then I got to spend you know, I did that for almost nine years, and I got to spend almost seven years at e EMC Corporation, which became Dell Technologies in doing the same thing. So we launched a number of video businesses, computer vision businesses, iot business a number of different things. And so I was very fortunate to be part of a very fast growing team a across the globe. And, and I was the general manager of those businesses for a number of years, and about 2 billion in revenue, and decided to do something more entrepreneurial and partnered up with a private equity firm and, and decided to leave a cushy tech job at the time.

Ken Mills (03:31):
And, and in the middle of Covid, or the start of Covid, which was my wife thought was a terrible idea probably was a terrible idea. She’s probably right. And, and jump ship and, and, and do this. So, you know, we brought together three companies in, in 2020 around iot. Within tele site acquisition. We brought together deep vision for our computer vision skillset and team. We acquired Broad Sky, which most of the folks they’re listening to this probably recognize that name more than any other which rounded out the connectivity aspect of our business. So we can launch this concept that I’m very passionate around, which is helping the world be a safer, smarter, more connected place. And so we wanted to have all of the technology that enabled us to do that in various compelling ways. And, and that’s what the combination in tele site Deep Vision and, and Broad Sky brought together. And, you know, we wanted to launch as a new team with a new mission and a consolidated strategy across the company. So we rebranded under EPIC iO and that’s who we are now, and we’re excited about really bringing together into market those real products and solutions that hopefully help make the world a safer, smarter, more connected place.

Josh Lupresto (04:41):
Love it. Great story. One important thing in there, our spouses are always right, and the sooner we learn that, the happier we’ll be, I’m happy on

Ken Mills (04:48):
Valentine’s Day, right? I mean, is that

Josh Lupresto (04:50):
? Yeah. And it’s on Valentine’s Day, right? I I I love it. No, it’s a, it’s a good background. Definitely a lot of big data in there. Certainly justifies the, I love Big data shirt makes a lot of sense. And, and, and so I wanna, I wanna jump in and, and maybe talk about, you know, as you, as you saw this technology change, as you saw computer vision come in, as you saw some of these Lego blocks come in, you know, talk to me about right now what are some of the latest things in your current role as CEO of Epic iOthat you’ve learned, and really what’s been the most valuable of, of how you’re, how you’re trying to apply that? And then we’ll get into the, to the, to the cows and the air sensors.

Ken Mills (05:27):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean you know, the Lego blocks is a great one, right? And we talked about it a little bit last time, and it’s one of my favorite talk tracks. I’m sure Taylor and the team can, can recite it. But, you know, I believe that we’re in this phase of the technology bell curve of adoption. And, and if you haven’t ever looked at that, there’s a great book by a gentleman named Jeffrey Moore who wrote books, business books in the seventies call around technology adoption and crossing the chasm and, and how to get technologies to the mass market. And, you know, one of the big lessons in his studies that, that I, I was very fortunate to learn at Cisco as we worked directly with him and his team, was this concept around called Whole Product. And, you know, that’s a pretty kind of weird term.

Ken Mills (06:06):
So I try to make it simple and say, pizzas you know, when people think of a whole product, pizza is the, is the easiest analogy, right? A whole product of a pizza is the cru, the ingredients, the process, the delivery, ordering everything that you need to get that pizza to your door and enjoy it. It’s all figured out for you. You don’t have to do it, right? It’s, it’s simple, it’s repeatable, it’s scalable, and, and it tastes the same pretty much everywhere you order it. If you order it from the same chain, you know, that’s a whole product approach to, to pizza. Customers are looking for that same concept when it comes to AI and iot, and even connectivity solutions like private 5g. They’re not ready to go just buy the Lego blocks and put ’em together on your own and, and hopefully get the end result that you want. They need a more off the shelf, more, you know, whole product experience, much like a pizza. So, you know, I like to say customers aren’t, don’t wanna buy Legos. They wanna buy pizzas. And that’s what EPIC iO is trying to do, is build as many repeatable pizzas in these complex use cases as possible.

Josh Lupresto (07:02):
I love that. I love that example. So if I think about what, what my, you know, my kids are of a younger age and I think about what they look forward to and what I looked forward to at their age, right? And for me, it was Little Caesars, it was Blockbuster, and it was the, the AOL dial up, right? That, that was the, that was some of the Friday nights. Yeah. And, and now you, you bring up the pizza thing, but I think that’s an important thing to call out, because what I want, what I want our partners to understand is h how do they take all of the great things that you have? How do they take what their customers are doing and help them innovate? Because what what we’re finding is, you know, we expect the customers to know exactly how to innovate.

Josh Lupresto (07:39):
And the reality is that’s our job, is to help them decide what can be innovated. And I, you know, you mentioned the pizza thing, and so the, you know, the, the, the thing my kids are into now is Friday night Dominoes, it’s right here. It’s five minutes from my house. But I just think about the innovation of the pizza tracker, right? Mm-Hmm. that takes sensors, that takes components, that takes innovation. And was that innovation they thought on their own? Or was that innovation that was spurred? I I think we have to, we have to look at the tools, the things that you have of how we can enable to have an innovative conversation like that. And you have all those there, to your point. So it really does boil down that I think the pizza’s a great example.

Ken Mills (08:14):
Yeah. It’s, it’s a we talk about this forever, right? It’s about finding the problem that is important enough to the customer to put budget behind it to solve. And, you know, there’s a lot of studies out there from all the major analyst firms. You know, one of the biggest reasons people do not move forward with AI and I R T projects is they don’t know where to start, and they don’t know what the outcome is gonna be and kind of how they’re gonna get there, right? They don’t fully grasp the journey of, you know coming up with the idea what the problem solution looks like, how much is it gonna cost, and what’s the value I’m gonna get after I spend this, this money. And so, as consultants that we all work with, and we work with these customers, we have to help them build that story and build that vision to understand, you know, how they’re gonna get there, right?

Ken Mills (08:58):
So, you know, the end result is a pizza you get to enjoy, but there are steps, right? You know, you have to, you know, build the crust, you have to put the cheese on, you have to pick the toppings, you have to cook it for the right amount of time, you have to do all these things. You have to deliver it in, in a proper time, so it’s still hot and enjoyable and a box that, you know, can stand up to the, a whole process. So all those things have to be figured out. And us as consultants and, and Epic iO with our, our, our partnership with the agencies and, and advisors out here is, is that we want to help them bring that innovative idea to the customer and help them think of a way to solve it in a way they hadn’t really thought about it before.

Ken Mills (09:29):
Because the reality is nobody’s picking up the phone saying, I want to buy a new server to make my pizzas better. Right? They’re no one’s picking the phone saying, I wanna buy new 5G connectivity because I need, you know, to open up the next, you know, big retail chain. Like they’re thinking like, I need reliable point of sale. I need, you know the pizzas to be consistent. I need to know that the ingredients are safe and that they’re, we’re not making anybody sick so that we don’t lose money and have a, a rep a reputational hit. Right? Those are the problems they care about. So they’re not asking for any specific technology. They’re asking for you to help them solve a business problem. And the quicker we get to that business problem, then the technology in a sense is important, but the pieces that make it up aren’t as important as the outcome. And that’s what we really focus on is Epic iO, is, is we may use one sensor for one use case. We may use a totally different sensor for another use case. The customer doesn’t care as long as the sensor data is reliable and repeatable enough that they can make a business decision, knowing that’s gonna be accurate.

Josh Lupresto (10:27):
Right. Great point. Let’s, let’s call back on those sensors for a second here. Yeah. We’re talking about, you know I, I think the idea that inspired this title is that we saw a visual one day of, of the connected cow and all of the, the pieces that that contains. And I think that was one of the first things that opened up our idea of how we could really grow this mobility and iot practice of the ways that, that people have been doing things and what can be done to modernize those. Now. So, so I know we’re talking propane tanks, we’re talking air quality sensors, you know, fuel level sensor, whatever. Any of that. I, I would love to hear from your perspective, pick apart any piece of that or any multi-part of that that you’ve done together, and just talk to me about how do they tie together and what does a deployment in something like that even look like once you get the business case understood?

Ken Mills (11:15):
Yeah. You know, the agriculture industry is amazing as a whole when it comes to iot and using big data and information to get better crop yields and you know, less waste and quicker time to market and less, less spoilage, and all these things that go into making sure that we have food on our table across the country and across the world. It’s, it’s amazing how innovative our farmers are. So it, it’s kind of crazy how quick to the, to the jump they were on this technology. And they’re also some of the ones that are pushing back on things like repairability and, you know E EVs an example, a tractor that can’t run 24 7 is not useful to a, a farmer, right? These are things that we don’t think about for your car that’s very different for a farm. So, you know, when you think about propane tanks, cows and connectivity and so forth, you know, I, I have seventh grade boys, sixth grade boys, so it’s hard not to put the obvious one together, right?

Ken Mills (12:07):
So you have cows that create methane, naturally. Methane is very explosive. So you want an air quality sensor to really recognize that level of, of methane and make sure that you don’t have a leak with your propane. And then you have a very serious situation and you have a barbecue that you didn’t plan and, you know, that could be bad, right? So, you know, being able to have that sensor quality, that sensor integration is really important. You know, we work with one customer that had their farm burned down, actually. It wasn’t and it ruined all of their turkeys and killed all of the turkeys or that, that were, that they were gonna use for Thanksgiving. Like literally they went for two years, they were outta business essentially. Fortunately they had saved some money and they were able to weather the, the storm, but their whole business was done for, for multiple years.

Ken Mills (12:53):
And it happened because an air compressor sparked and went unchecked and then created a fire that then caught the big refrigerator on fire and then burned it all down, right? So, you know, it was a chain reaction of, of events. So, you know, that this, this farmer automatically is like, Hey, how do I prevent that from happening again? Like, what can I use to, to prevent that from happening again? And so we worked with a combination of iot sensors and computer vision to analyze heat signatures to make sure that the heat isn’t getting outta whack, along with understanding the power surges that might be occurring on the air compressor, which could cause a spark. And then we can correlate those two data points, the computer vision data, and the sensor data, and bring that into a multi-sensor enhanced AI solution, like deep insights, which is the software that we sell and then analyze that to determine, Hey, we have a situation here.

Ken Mills (13:44):
You need to shut off this compressor so that it doesn’t create a fire and cause further damage. Yes, you might lose some part of your of your turkeys due to spoilage, but you’re not losing the whole farm, right? So you know, those kinds of things apply not only to a Turkey farmer, but can apply to that Domino’s facility, right? Maintaining, yeah. The refrigerators for all the ingredients for the pizzas to the grocery store, to the hotel, to the school, to the wherever, right? So that use case is very horizontal, even though it had a very particular outcome.

Josh Lupresto (14:16):
Yeah. And I think a pre-warning too, I mean, to your point, if we could save you that sometimes people just have to look at this, or they want to look at this as just a math problem. Again, I can’t, I can’t do this if I can’t cost justify. What’s the roi? Well, the ROI is that if we’re charging you a small amount for this sensor, the alerting, the analytics and that saves you hundreds of thousands of dollars, is isn’t this a, I mean, the delta’s massive, right? How, how is this even an ROI conversation at that point? So I’d love, I love when you can put out some very basic roi that certainly helps too.

Ken Mills (14:44):
Yeah. Who doesn’t buy AppleCare on their iPhone, right? I mean, those people are crazy. You know, why would you want to pay $200 to replace your screen? Or, you know, $50 to buy the insurance, whatever, right? So, you know, it, it’s it’s one of those things that mathemat Yeah. That when you have a problem that you know, the cost is big, if you don’t have the right protection, then you know, you, you put yourself in a bad situation. I mean, in the reality, we sell physical virgins of insurance policies no different than your home insurance or your car insurance. You’re, you’re buying data that’s gonna give you the warning and the protection from a, from a risk that you may not get. But if you do get it, you need to know about it right away. Yeah. You need to solve it quickly.

Josh Lupresto (15:24):
Well, that’s a good, I’d love that. It’s a good way to look at it put myself in the frame of, of a partner. If, if I’m going out and saying, okay, you’re, you’re helping me understand some of these verticals. We obviously think of mobility and iot, we think of manufacturing, we think of agriculture, we think of commercial, medical, all these things. But a a as you think through that, and you, we go back to the deployment question, what percentage of customers do you find out there, you know, you went into some of the metrics about how this, we correlate this sensor against this data and give you an alerting. What percentage would you say of the customers are really even thinking at that level? Are, are, are they just, do they even know that there’s necessarily a problem? Right? I I, I wanna help our partners understand what, what type of customers are we walking into where they really even think there’s anything wrong to start with?

Ken Mills (16:13):
Yeah. So this might be controversial, but my opinion is if the customer doesn’t know they have a problem, they’re probably not the right customer today. You should put them on the, for, on the list later Yeah. To call in, right? Because the customers that know they have a problem, they’re already looking for solutions. And there’s a lot of customers that know they have problems. And so I, my, my guidance to the partners is go find the customers that already know there’s issues and bring them as a way to solve it in a, in a innovative way, in a reliable way that they can, they can consume versus trying to convince a customer that they have a problem if they haven’t quite materialized or, or figured out what it’s costing them yet. So maybe that’s not, is, is maybe it’s more controversial than others would like, but I think there’s enough, there’s plenty of opportunity with customers that already know what’s going on.

Josh Lupresto (16:57):
Well, yeah. I mean, partners wanna get, they wanna get to a no faster I think they don’t, they don’t wanna be drug out, right? They don’t wanna try to force an opportunity out.

Ken Mills (17:04):
Yeah. And my team, you know, and I know Taylor’s been a part of this conversation, we’ve debated this, like, well, tell us the ROI of all these things. We can go to these customers and say, here’s how much you’ll save if you buy this today. And my pushback is, if the customer doesn’t know that they’re losing money, then us educating the ROI is we’re too, we’re too early. Like, they need to know that there’s risk already. And they need to be feeling that pain or be already or nervous of that pain to really be ready to make a decision. A good example. That’s a big utility customer we worked with. You know, they were spending thousands and thousands of dollars on manpower and fuel to go manually check all these tanks and, you know, it, it’s just what they’ve always done, right? And the reality is, is some guy drives out there, checks the tank, it’s empty, he leaves, someone comes and fills the, the tank, you know, 30 minutes later it’s still empty as far as the anybody knows.

Ken Mills (17:53):
Cuz that’s what he, that was the last time he checked it. Another person comes in, tries to put something in that tank, it’s full. Now that person has to go to another facility. They charge the customer fee because they wasted their time. And there’s all this frustration expense that that is, you know, they already knew they had that problem. They already knew this process was not working. And so when we got there, they were like, look, can you just solve this for us? And we said, sure. And so we put together, again, another combination of computer vision and sensors to correlate activity levels and when the site is being utilized so they could better plan for the sites. And then we also gave them fill levels and, and AI to understand when it’s gonna be full and likely how long it’s gonna be before it’s full so they could do better route planning.

Ken Mills (18:35):
You combine those two things together. Now they have digital transformation that just occurred in their facility and solved a big problem. They already knew. They never asked us what sensor did we use. They never asked us which camera did we use. They never asked us any of those questions because it didn’t matter to them. They asked us how much does it cost, and is that cost enough or low enough to make sense for us from a business perspective to offset the the problem we know we have. And the answer was yes, and they bought it and they just renewed for another five years. Yeah. So that’s a great example.

Josh Lupresto (19:04):
We love that. We love that. No, I was gonna go into the example next, so that’s perfect. What, how is that, how is that relationship with that customer after, I mean, it seems to me like you dramatically revolutionized how that customer can go to market and build their business and think about things in a different way. What do you, sh this is not a commodity sale, this is not a transactional quote line item, but you changed the way that, that that partner looks at their bus or that customer looks at their business. What, what changes for you from that customer’s perspective after that?

Ken Mills (19:36):
Yeah, it’s obviously a very sticky healthy relationship because you’re solving a real problem. So we, we launched a new organization around customer success. And so we have a customer success team that now takes on these customers once we turn them on and, and, and know that the customer is happy and everything’s working, and they’re working with that customer on a quarterly basis, understanding, you know, what’s working, what’s not working, how many tickets do they have? You know, here’s some new things we could do. Here’s some other ideas and things we could solve. And we’ve already expanded that customer to other use cases because we’ve had those conversations on ongoing basis and we’ve built that trust that we could solve a really meaty, tough problem that they’re coming to us with other challenges. And, and I know you’re gonna ask about it later, but that’s how we got into biosecurity, right? That’s the, that’s the whole genesis of that product,

Josh Lupresto (20:23):
Huh? Let’s, yeah, that’s exactly where I was gonna go next. Let’s jump into that. I mean, we, when we talked to, when we had you in the studio, we talked fireside, you had some cool things coming out, some decontamination stuff. Talk, talk to me about that. What, you know, I know we’ve, we’ve pinpointed on sensors and, and, and analytics and AI vision and all kinds of awesome stuff. But, but what else is there? Talk to me about some of the other stuff you got cooking.

Ken Mills (20:42):
Yeah, I mean, we’re overachiever, we’re very dirty. We like to solve as many hard problems as we can. That’s just who we are as a company and as a leadership team. And one of those is, is biosecurity. So, you know, it’s our post-it note for like 3m. So most people know the story that the post-it note was an accident. They were trying to build an entirely different compound, and they came up with a post-it note idea. And they almost threw it away. Now it’s a multi-billion dollar business, right? It’s probably one of the most recognizable things that 3M does. And so we, you know, we hope that the biosecurity is our same level of success, but, you know, really started out as an iot problem. We had a partner in Panama and they had a customer who was shipping bananas from Guatemala to the States.

Ken Mills (21:26):
And the bananas were dying in high, high yield rates. And, and they were losing a ton of money. And they said, Hey, we, we, there’s this process of ionizing the air that’s already been proven for 20 years, but we can’t make it consistent in these containers. Can you help us with iot solve this problem? And we said, sure, of course we can. And so we got our smart team together and folks, and we built a, a solution with connectivity, IOT sensors, deep insights, our software, the whole thing. Edge compute put attaches the containers and they shipped them from, from Guatemala to the us. And, and all nine of the containers that we had our equipment on lived all the, all the bananas lived. And that’s why we wear shirts that say, saved the bananas. And the one that didn’t have our technology died you know, that 80% failure of, of spoilage of the bananas.

Ken Mills (22:12):
And so we said, wait a minute, this is pretty cool. Like, we didn’t, we didn’t really think about this use case. And the, and the customer said, well, we really want a product. We want something that is like a whole product back to that whole pizza, right? We don’t want to put all these parts together. We want to buy something. And so we said, well, we don’t have a product. They said, well, go build a product and come back to us and we’ll, we’ll do this at scale. And so we spent the last year building the biosecurity product, which is the first version that’s called the Epic Aura. And essentially it is a combination of that, that same technology, edge compute, connectivity sensors and and our software on the backend in the cloud that creates recipes that ionize and disinfect the air and all the surfaces to kill things like Listeria, Panama Disease, Mersa, covid, sars, you know, e coli, salmonella, you name it, staph infection.

Ken Mills (23:07):
So we, we’ve tested with multiple universities and done many, many microbiology studies and tests and validations and academic reviewed research to validate that this actually works as well as we say it does. And the results have been overwhelming. So we spent, you know, literally just the last year taking this idea that we did with a customer and then making it into a pizza that they could buy and consume. So now it’s ready and available and, and can be built and shipped and delivered as a product. And, you know, we already have schools, we have gyms, we have food processing facilities, we have egg hatcheries, we have athletic facilities in D one colleges. We’re talking to a major league baseball team right now and a major league basketball team. We are talking to you know, you name a vertical patient rooms, daycares.

Ken Mills (23:58):
I mean, we have literally all kinds of use cases out the, out the wazoo as there are tons of challenges with you know, people worrying about keeping their space safe. Mm-Hmm. And people are now much more aware cuz of covid that, Hey, wait a minute, maybe our room and our air isn’t as safe as we thought it was. And RSV has been pretty deadly this year for children. And, you know, our solution kills rsv, right? So it kills any airborne dynamic. And the reason we came up with a solution is there’s been UV around forever, but UV is, is really great. It’s actually a hundred percent effective if you use it at the right distance from the light. But if you get too far from that light, or you have something in front of that light between the light and the object, the effective rate goes from a hundred to like zero and a heartbeat. So you get you end up with something that you think is safe and it’s really not, you actually have a false sense of security and a false outcome. So we wanted to build something that was a lot more reliable and a lot more effective across the entire surface area. So that’s the that’s the aura. So, you know, we’re, we think it’s a, that is truly something that can be bought, you know, delivered, put in a box, installed and then off you go. So that is a very consumable solution.

Josh Lupresto (25:06):
Love it. So, I mean, in, in the end of it, it, it, I was gonna say let’s pick a use case, but it seems to me the, the size, the scale, the environment, the, the, you know, wherever it might be, the disease, the concern, it seems like it has to play for all of those things, right? And it’s kind of custom to fit whatever it is has the core aura in it. But the reality is it can fit any of those use cases. Yeah.

Ken Mills (25:27):
Yeah. The only place it doesn’t fit to always be fair, right, is we wanna, we don’t wanna send partners down the wrong path, is any space that’s open 24 7, cuz we have to have the space has to be empty because it’s, you need to make it safe. And any space that’s massively open, so like a huge right gym or huge, you know, massive cafeteria, you know, probably not a good use case for it. But if you wanna do a classroom or cold storage or a patient room or any of those other facilities, perfect, perfect

Josh Lupresto (25:56):
Fit. Yeah, I love that. I mean, there’s so much too, obviously from a medical, medical side, but you think about the weirdness of where we are with inflation and cost of goods and shipping and produce and shortages. I mean, I, I have to imagine there’s such a vast amount of people looking to figure out how to save cost on that and not perish, you know whatever the consumables might be. It’s

Ken Mills (26:16):
Great service. Yeah. We, we actually increased in the banana use case, the shelf life by 27 days. So we’re working with some food banks right now to help them do two things, kill any potential mysterious salmonella or e coli or bacteria that might make their constituents sick, which are some of the folks who don’t have access to healthcare or don’t, don’t are too far away from healthcare. But so that’s a big problem, right? So they want healthy food to these folks, but they also want the food to last as long as as possible so they can get help as many people as possible. So it’s a great double benefit that we’re not only, you know, helping make sure the food is safer, but available when they need it for those that need it most. So that’s one of the projects I’m most excited about, and we’re actually donating equipment to some of those facilities to, to make it even more cost effective because I believe in that, that dynamic, so much, much like I know Talos is, is big in philanthropy. So, you know, something we try to do where we can and, and help where we can Love

Josh Lupresto (27:09):
It. Great stuff. All right. Top that one. . All right, let’s, let’s, we got everybody excited. I think there’s a lot of opportunity here. We know this is the future. We know the sky is the limit. If I’m a partner that’s not gone down this track yet, how do I walk in to my customers that I know probably need or fit some of the things that we’ve talked about? What’s my starting talk track? You know, to identify, you know, whether, whether we’re bringing you in, whether they’re bringing you in just opening that door, what is that talk track?

Ken Mills (27:40):
Yeah. If I could put it the simplest terms, you know, in one of our, our CTO uses this analogy, right? And he uses it on an intersection for a city project. If you had someone standing at an intersection 24 7, what would you want them to see and write down? And one, once you understand that dynamic, we can build the sensor profile to give you that information that you can act on. That same type of question applies to many other use cases. So if you had someone standing here objectively looking at your operation and you wanted them to write down and identify tr trends or issues or data, what would that be? You? And once you understand what those use cases are and what that those data sets are, we can build the right sensor portfolio to give you that real-time access to that data that then you could turn into business data that you can make business decisions on. And that’s ultimately what, what people need. So the next question is, once you understand what you’re gathering is what information is needed to make a decision? Like what’s the threshold? What are the factors that come into play that, that really will ultimately tell you need to do something? And that’s where we create the logic around our enhanced AI that says, here’s what we’ve gathered, here’s the logic applied to that data, and that logic then generates a result that you can generate an outcome from. So that’s the process.

Josh Lupresto (28:55):
Love it. Okay. All right, Ken, final thoughts? So this is, this is definitely one of those areas that continues to innovate, evolve, change. Yeah. So we can’t look out really far because Right. Who, who knows where we’re at. We all, we all have robots in our house in three years. Yeah, right? We’re at now, but so as we wrap, we just look forward, I don’t know, 12 months, right? Where do you see, do you want to give any advice partners to look out for anything, anything different other than kind of having the conversations that we’re asking them to have right now? Anything to be prepared for things that you see coming down the innovation curve, things like that, that you wanna make us aware of?

Ken Mills (29:30):
Look, I mean, you know, we’re historically low unemployment. I know the news might give you indication otherwise, but we’re still historically low in unemployment. If you tried to hire someone lately, I’m sure you can appreciate that. I know we have I know Tores has, right? It’s not an easy market to get to get the best talent. There’s a lot of people looking for that. So, companies, cities hospitals are looking for ways to automate processes as much as they can. So the thing that we know is gonna change and, and accelerate, right? And what Covid has, has actually accelerated dramatically, is the dis is the understanding that automation is, is here, and the need to automate is as much as possible is here. So robots, you know, discrete robots, you know, multi-use robots, AI intelligence to help make decisions like chatGPT is changing the world of content.

Ken Mills (30:16):
You know, these things are coming and, and they’re coming much quicker than any time in history. So if I’m an advisor, channel partner, I’m looking for ways that I can get ahead of that digital transformation curve, because it’s been talked about a lot, kind of like the very early days of cloud, cloud was talked about forever before it became real, and then it became the thing, you know, this now, digital transformation is kind of in that same phase, right? Where it’s been talked about forever. Now it’s real. Customers are really looking to buy and deploy and make things happen. And we’re working with customers right now that the advisor channel has brought us, that that’s exactly what they’re at, right? How do we automate this process in our quick service food environment? How do we automate this process in our school? How do we automate this process in our city? How do we automate this process, you know, in our factory, right? All of these things are happening all at once right now. So getting ahead of that curve and being, being willing to have that conversation is gonna be a, a huge opportunity for the channel. And I think this channel is gonna be right there at the front with every ahead of the rest of the curve.

Josh Lupresto (31:17):
Love it. Great stuff. All right, Ken, you dropped some knowledge on us here. I think people are gonna be excited about this, learn some stuff and definitely reaching out to you guys. So I really appreciate you coming on, man. It’s always a blast.

Ken Mills (31:29):
Yeah, Josh, always, anytime, man. I’m a, like I said, big fan. Glad to be on the show and, and thanks for having us and being a great partner of ours. And, you know like I said, you know, don’t be afraid of the big data.

Josh Lupresto (31:39):
Love it, man. Love it. Okay, everybody that wraps us up for today. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of sales engineering at Telarus. Ken Mills, CEO of EPIC iO. Until next time.