Spilling the beans on IoT: An interview with Brinc’s Bay Mclaughlin
Technology devotees firmly believe that IoT (Internet of Things) will continue to accelerate businesses and drive global innovation. From small footprint devices to mid-sized industrial machines to smart homes, IoT devices are swiftly emerging as the tech that will make the most profound shift in our everyday lives. In this interview, Bay McLaughlin, Co-Founder & COO of Brinc, speaks about the importance of mentorship for entrepreneurs eying the hardware and IoT space, and the value that Brinc provides as an ultra-hands-on hardware accelerator to support these entrepreneurs.
What do you admire the most in an entrepreneur?
After having coached entrepreneurs for almost a decade, there are three things that I look for in an entrepreneur. First is coachability or the willingness to listen despite being equipped with adequate knowledge as opposed to someone who challenges all the feedback. The second thing that I admire the most in an entrepreneur is domain expertise. If you look at a lot of the best entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Larry Page and so on – they were not overnight successes.
These are the people who worked hard for decades, had a plan and a vision of what the future would look like and executed it. They didn’t guess their way to success. Towards this, the next generation of entrepreneurs must be experts of their niche in addition to just being smart, using hacks and working hard. The third thing that I look for in an entrepreneur is the quality of not making excuses. I admire an entrepreneur who gets the job done at all costs without pointing fingers at his employees, investors, partners, etc.
In short, if you are more of a fighter that can make things happen, the better are your chances of succeeding at any entrepreneurial endeavor that you take up.
What would be your advice to entrepreneurs looking to enter the hardware startup space?
Domain expertise. It helps if you have some experience in the hardware space, and by that, I mean anything in the physical world such as shipping, logistics, manufacturing. It definitely gives you a leg-up when you are setting up your first IoT business. However, if you have a hands-on investor, advisor, mentor or senior staff in the company who has relevant experience or knowledge then that also works. It is advisable that entrepreneurs or members of your company understand the underlying physics of the hardware IoT game.
Also, do study the market and your competitors, and understand that you will take longer than you anticipate, and require more capital than you assume. Make sure you don’t kid yourself because any small, incorrect assumption can come back to bite you in a way that doesn’t happen in software. So be realistic.
How will Internet of Things influence our day-to-day life in the future?
It’s already happening! The best medium for IoT to function right now is the smartphone. Soon, we will be surrounded with hundreds of devices that will be armed with dozens of sensors in our homes and offices. This will make way for the vision that we have at Brinc – unlocking vital data that was previously inaccessible. Once unlocked, we can analyze and interpret this information to improve our everyday lives.
This data will help us better understand our environment and analyze our day to day routine. We can then create new services to support and enhance our lives. Imagine making the world work on our behalf – remotely opening the door or turning off the lights, turning on the air conditioner and executing other such daily actions with ease.
How crucial is mentorship for IoT startups at an early stage? How is Brinc creating value in that space?
Extremely crucial. 90% of the companies that we review end up getting into some sort of trouble due to lack of in-house domain expertise. At this stage, most people don’t understand the world of IoT and hardware. So, the more advice you can get, the better. And that’s where Brinc provides the majority of the value.
Startups who come-onboard Brinc have an advantage over others because they get access to our mentorship. We are very hands-on at every single stage of the entire lifecycle and support the founders to de-risk the entire IoT process. We usually ensure this via our online community, our accelerator program, and our studio program.
What do investors look for in a startup before investing in it?
Investors always bet on the jockey’s (founders and the core team) and not the horse (the technology/product). They want to see if the startup can attack the problem it has laid its eyes on. Apart from this, investors look at the size of the market, the competitors and whether the technology landscape will change in the distant future. Investors want to know for sure that the technology is capable of seamlessly solving the problem that it has been designed to solve.
What is the latest trend / upcoming trend in IoT that you are most excited about?
There are two major trends that I am excited about. The first is healthcare technology. We are scratching the surface of a massive evolution in biology, genetics, and medical technology. Health tech will allow us to live longer, healthier and happier by providing an avenue to eliminate awful diseases and illnesses.
The second is agricultural technologies. We are trying to solve large global problems by dealing with geopolitical issues pertaining to food and resources – water specifically. We’re investing in technology to calculate how far and long would cattle, water, shrimp, palm oil and other resources impact lives. These two technologies will impact our lives immensely in the coming future.