Dana Farbo, COO of Augmate, discusses the future of the IoT industry and the company’s achievements and challenges thus far.
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1) Would you be able to tell us about your background before Augmate?
“I got involved with a company on the client side early on in my career and was basically trained in traditional sales and marketing, communications, learning the television, radio, print, and the direct mail world. I got into digital early, and actually became a global strategic lead for a fortune 100 company to work for digital back in the late 90’s. In 2001 I started my own digital agency after a stint with an advertising agency with one of the euro RECT groups, and we sold that in 2012 after doing a number of things. We ended up merging it in 2009 with a local development company, actually, a full service digital agency, and then we sold the entire thing in 2012. Since then i’ve done management consulting, and other things, but i’ve basically been in the augmented reality world since 2009. I connected with Pete Wassell back in 2015, and in 2017, I came on board full time with Pete on the Augmate side.”
2) What drew you to working for Augmate?
“It was really the aspect of looking at helping solve problems in the full IoT space for device connectivity. When I think about my own personal network at home, I think of PlayStations, phones, you’ve got everything moving data through the router and none of it is connected. None of it was such that I could get data from one place and really use it on another device. The idea of a device management platform starting with wearables, and by using augmented reality in those wearables, it made a lot of sense. But more so, how do we take it across all devices. Obviously, with enterprises, where we’re at right now. But my main focus is how do we move that into consumer.”
3) What would you say has been Augmate’s biggest achievement so far?
“Number one is the first wearable device management platform. Going in and creating something where nothing was before, and helping IT management really take a lot of the worry off of their shoulders about how these devices would be used in the field. As well, the worry of how they could create security protocols around their use, whether or not video was being taken of people that did not want their video taken. All the needs that you would have for a device once it starts being used in the enterprise side. Having that first platform is the primary achievement to date.”
4) Tell us a bit more about the Augmate Connect and the MATE™ token?
“Augmate Connect is different to Augmate [the WEM Platform]. Augmate [the WEM Platform] is the existing product. It is being used by numerous companies, it gets upgraded, and it gets worked on. The Augmate Connect platform will become a hybrid that is here specifically for these IoT devices that are as small as a beacon or a sensor. It all ties together. Beyond IoT devices, it’s really looking at how we connect the world of data through blockchain and distributed ledger, so that the data is flowing in the world. We look at Augmate Connect, it’s not just a blockchain and distributed ledger platform. It’s a full, connected platform of devices with different types of message movement using blockchain, and traditional methods of encryption etc.”
5) What would you say is the best part about working for Augmate?
“Well, we have a fantastic group of seasoned professionals, with a great culture of drive, but comradery. The drive to get a real product with Augmate Connect, that solves real problems. We’re not a culture of just ‘think of cool things, and throw it out there, and never do anything’. We’re more about building great stuff. Building a company that should rival some of the biggest companies out there, especially within the field that we work in.”
6) Are there any businesses out there that you admire?
“Well, it comes with different types of admiration. In the blockchain space i’ve always got an admiration for what Joe Lubin is doing. To assemble a group of connected companies. I also recognize that he has issues around bringing young companies together under a single cover, but his way of creating an environment of connected companies and partners etc, I can appreciate that.”
“In the aspect of forward visioning on the product side, who can hate Apple. You’ve just got to look at them and go wow. They created something when nothing was there, and that’s kind of what we’re doing with Augmate Connect. We’re not followers, we’re leaders, but we recognize that there are leaders across several industries that we have to partner with. I also look at other companies purely from a communication standpoint, and how they completely changed their brand based on dedication to a story. Like Aflac, or Dyson, the vacuum cleaner company. The way that they focussed on telling their story, such that they actually moved their market forward so dramatically.”
7) What is the most challenging part of your work?
“The most challenging part is in making sure our company is guided well. This is so that we have a current product that is performing, without abandoning that product to move to the next shiny object. If you think of Augmate Connect, it is a future product that we’re building now. But Augmate [the WEM Platform] is a product that we have now, that we’re building revenue around. The tendency is to move towards the fun, new, “just build something and don’t worry about the revenue side”, and yet, we have to have a balance there. The most challenging part is making sure that you have the people that aren’t overloading themselves on one side. We really have to focus on the current platform, current product, and drive revenue from that. Grow it, whilst focusing a subset of our group on the new world of distributed ledger, blockchain, because we totally believe that the future will encompass that area. In the present, we won’t really be able to realize the benefits for probably two to three years in the blockchain and DLT area.”
8) Where do you see the IoT industry going?
“The future is around protection, access, artificial intelligence, about using that data, and the way that we do that with devices. We believe that devices are a source of most of the data that comes from human input to use those devices. Humans use devices, devices put out data, humans give data to devices. Devices talk to other devices and there is data exchanged there. It’s putting the human in control, but also in a management control environment where they can use the data that’s coming, but it has to be stored very securely. It has to be protected and the devices need to be locked down.”
“For example, in the future I believe that your data will flow with you wherever you go in the world. Think about a comet. How the comet cloud follows the comet and throws stuff off. We’re not just filling the universe with data that is there wherever you go, we’re flowing all of that data with you. In the future of distributed ledger and blockchain, you’re basically using all the nodes on the distributed ledger to flow the data with you. Rather than it staying on the server in the US as a node, when I go to London my data is flowing to me so my data is around me.”
9) Do you have any exciting projects coming up at Augmate?
“We have something coming up with the Royal Air Force very soon. We also have projects we can’t talk about yet but they’re getting close. We are deep into telecommunications right now. We’re working with technologies in Dubai and Beirut to help with a new way for Mecca travellers and pilgrims to experience their journey in a better way when they travel. We’re working with a group out of Mexico to expand the curriculum around blockchain and distributed ledger so that we grow a competency around people and the Mexico area. We have several other things that are in the works. We have people on the ground in India right now working on several projects geared towards more smart connected devices, sort of in the smart cities environment. And lots more!”
10) How do you feel about your token sale being the first ever one to be on Crowdfunder?
“We are excited to be chosen by Crowdfunder as their first ICO. Our MATE™ token is identified as a security token based on SEC guidance and we embrace that. Crowdfunder is the perfect place for us to be in, in that regard, with their investor base.”