DevReady PodcastDevReady Podcast E45 – Leveraging Data, Optimizing for Sustainability with Blue IoT with Bob Sharon

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On this episode of the DevReady Podcast, Andrew and Anthony talk to Bob Sharon about his journey to building an ambitious cloud-based platform for the management of smart buildings and the built environment. Blue IoT’s globally recognized suite of products and services reduces energy and maintenance costs while increasing human comfort, safety and productivity.

Bob traces a long and varied IT career that has culminated in Blue IoT — a transformational start-up driven by his passion, vision and the remarkable team he has assembled. He shares both the personal and entrepreneurial challenges he has encountered, from early setbacks to fostering a healthy team culture to understanding client needs to adapting evolving technologies within a burgeoning new space. 

Blue IoT has developed a range of leading edge technologies, platforms and sensors of all descriptions combined with data analytics and interpretation, machine learning and AI. The company is driven by Bob’s hunger for excellence, commitment to making a difference and progressing towards a more sustainable future. In this far-ranging conversation, he describes the path, the people and the values that have fueled his company’s rapid growth. 

Enjoy a deep dive into how Blue IoT is pioneering the reduction of risk, carbon footprint, energy, maintenance and operations costs for a multitude of built environments – offices and malls, governmental and university buildings – that impact individual lives and the planet every day.

Topics Covered: 

  • Bob shares his tech background and personal history with entrepreneurial trial and error.
  • There’s no failure – unless you fail to embrace and grow from lessons learned.
  • Start-up success depends upon putting together a strong, cohesive, collaborative team.
  • How Blue IoT evolved to become the world’s first building management platform.
  • Bob details some of the nuts and bolts of Blue IoT’s suite of service offerings.
  • Covid19 as an opportunity for Blue IoT to help facilities mitigate risk with bleeding-edge monitoring and environmental management techniques. 
  • Developing client interfaces and customization.
  • Answering client questions related to Cloud resiliency and redundancy. 
  • How Bob has leveraged seed capital to organically grow his business structure, including staffing, marketing and employee retention.
  • Outsourcing: pitfalls and process.
  • How Blue IoT team members break down in terms of R&D and technical delivery.
  • Pointers for establishing and guiding an advisory team and eventual board. 
  • What drives Bob. Hint: Passion is a primary ingredient.
  • Advice from Bob to his younger entrepreneurial self. Hint: Tenacity is key.

Key Quotes

  • “Data centers are the homes of the world’s data and the amount of energy they consume is the same as aviation (prior to Covid19), so a massive carbon footprint.” (1:38)
  • “I made a lot of mistakes. I took a lot of things for granted. Didn’t consult. Thought I knew when I knew nothing.” (3:55)
  • “One day I’m going to write a book: ‘100 Ways How NOT to Run a Business’ ” (3:48)
  • “What’s most important is that (employees) are psychologically invested, because we don’t want people who just come to work 9 to 5.” (7:01)
  • “In the end what happened was something so much better in that we ended up inventing the world’s first IoT cloud-based building management platform.” (10:28)
  • “We’re the square pegs in the round holes; the crazy ones doing crazy, bleeding edge things like deliver amazing outcomes.” (15:25)
  • “We’re getting under three years to ROI, not counting the savings on unplanned maintenance and staffing and resources.” (22:50)
  • “What happens if there’s a disconnect from the cloud? How is the building going to keep going… It’s a common question from clients.” (24:19)
  • “There’s no impediment to continuous improvement, continuous optimization, because we’re continuously using our machine learning and will soon be using artificial intelligence.” (26:10)
  • “Some people say ‘We’re here to make a profit,” and that’s nice but, at the end of the day, if you’ve got revolving doors and people don’t care, it’s not a very sustainable strategy. It’s an empty vision.”(39:40)
  • You can’t be passionate about the outcome if you haven’t got the right people and the right culture.” (40:11) 
  • “It’s not only about exceeding expectations. It’s about delivering material outcomes, reducing pain, making places better and safer for people, and reducing the carbon footprint and just innovating everywhere.”(46:43)
  • “Don’t give up. You’ve got to be tenacious — that’s certainly one thing I am! You fight back and look for opportunities. And as the opportunities come, you grab them!” (51:33)