Adriana Withers is one of the partners in Vicious Circle Ultimate, an apparel company dedicated to custom manufacturing high performance gear for ultimate frisbee athletes. Her partner Don Cooper came up with the idea for VC just before Canadian Nationals in the summer of 1998 and the company has been growing ever since.
In this episode, Adriana discusses throwing apartment parties to pay rent, the challenges of starting up, and the proliferation of companies in her industry in recent years.
Adriana’s Challenge; Practice gratitude regularly and show appreciation for the people in your life.
Connect with Adriana
This episode of Going Deep with Aaron Watson is brought to you by the Ultimate Athlete Project. UAP is founded on helping athletes get results through well-developed workout plans that relieve you of the need to research effective workouts or worry about your workouts becoming boring. Check out a free core workout and learn more about what regular users are saying about the program.
Hahna is the Chief Technical Officer and cofounder of Sole Power Technologies. The company builds an shoe insole that charges a battery while the used walks. That battery can be used to charge a cell phone or other electronic device.
As a child, Hahna was inspired by the technology in science fiction books, shows, and comics. She became an engineer because she wanted to make such technology a reality. For her, developing an energy harvesting shoe insert meant creating a device that could be found in an Isaac Asimov book. She also has a lifelong dream of going to space, which grew bigger while designing robots at NASA. As company CTO, she leads product design and is the only one capable of drawing more than stick figures.
Hahna’s Challenge; Spend some time every day learning about a topic you want to get smarter on.
Popular Science Invention of the Year
Ilana Diamond is the Managing Director of AlphaLab Gear, Innovation Works’ hardware start-up accelerator which provides physical product startups with connections, investment, mentorship and more. Ilana helps entrepreneurs rapidly progress through the early stages of product and customer development by leveraging her experience and network, gained from over 20 years of leading and growing companies, from early stage to exit.
Prior to running AlphaLab Gear, Ilana served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Sima Products. She built Sima’s management team, developed and managed a network of Asian manufacturers and led profitable sales growth at national brick and mortar retail chains such as Target and Walmart, internet retailers such as Amazon.com, and specialty catalog retailers.Based on innovative technology developed by Sima, she also founded and managed a commercial alerting startup, raised outside capital spun it off into a separate entity. In 2010, Ms. Diamond negotiated the sale of Sima and transitioned operations to the new owners.
Ilana currently serves as a Member of the advisory board at Sole Power, LLC. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Pittsburgh Technology Council and Tie Pittsburgh. Previously, she sat on the Executive Board of the Consumer Electronics Association.
Ilana’s Challenge; Pick one thing every day that you are going to do well. You can’t do everything well every single day.
Connect with Ilana
AlphaLab Gear Website
Theresa Brown, BSN, RN, works as a clinical nurse in Pittsburgh and recently wrote a NYT best-selling book, The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives.
Theresa received her BSN from the University of Pittsburgh, but before that earned, a PhD in English from the University of Chicago and taught at Tufts University. Her column "Bedside" has appeared on the New York Times op-ed page as well as on the Times blog “Opinionator” and she is a frequent contributor to the New York Times. Previously she wrote for the New York Times blog “Well." Her writing has also appeared on CNN.com, and in The American Journal of Nursing and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She is an Advisory Board Member of the Center for Health Media and Policy at the Bellevue School of Nursing at Hunter College, and a participant in two different Robert Wood Johnson initiatives: "Flip the Clinic" and "The Power of Narrative."
Her first book Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between has been adopted as a textbook in Schools of Nursing across the country. Theresa lectures nationally on issues related to nursing, health care, and end of life. Her clinical work has been in medical oncology, hospice, and palliative care. Becoming a mom led Theresa to leave academia and pursue nursing. It is a career change she has never regretted.
Theresa’s Challenge; Spend 30 minutes reading one poem per week.
Critical Care:A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between
The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives
Connect with Theresa
This episode of Going Deep with Aaron Watson is brought to you by the Ultimate Athlete Project. UAP is founded on helping athletes get results through well-developed workout plans that relieve you of the need to research effective workouts or worry about your workouts becoming boring. Check out a free core workout and learn more about what regular users are saying about the program.
Leah Lizarondo is an innovator and food advocate. She is also the founder of The Brazen Kitchen, a food education practice and influential blog and the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, an innovative technology-driven nonprofit that fights hunger and waste.
Leah received her Master's Degree in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University graduating with Highest Distinction and is an advocate for healthy food accessibility, food safety policy and sustainability. She has trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City and received her Certification in Plant-based Nutrition from Cornell University.
Leah spoke at the first Going Deep Summit back in 2018.
She served as one of the Trustees at the global Awesome Foundation: Food, serving with leaders and creative innovators in food and is an Ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
She began her career as a product manager in Southeast Asia, working in consumer packaged goods and as a consultant working with technology startups. She served in leadership positions at global nonprofits before moving on to her passion in food and health advocacy. She is interested in the intersection of food, health and innovation.
Check out the CrowdRise Campaign
Leah’s Challenge; Write a letter to yourself one year from today explaining your vision for where you want to be.
Connect with Leah
Avi Geller has taken a long and thoughtful route to entrepreneurship. During his time on Going Deep, he discusses how he moved to progressively smaller companies and developed a vision for the future of wearable tech.
He is now focused on “hearables”, a segment of tech focused on headsets and earpieces that deliver real time information to users. As a member of the AlphaLab accelerator, Avi is leading Maven Machines towards being a player in the Internet of Things.
Avi’s Challenge; Start something, like a social gathering or a project, that you take ownership of and do a great job.
Next Pittsburgh Article
Connect with Avi
Aaron Watson: So Avi, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate it.
Avi Geller: Thank you for having me here.
Aaron Watson: So, I just want to start off by giving a chance to explain what Maven Machines is and kind of where the idea of Maven.
Avi Geller: Sure Maven Machines were a, a young startup, a wearable devices company. Specifically, we make smart headsets. Or as what we’re, trying to get, it's going to be called hearables in the industry.
Aaron Watson: Okay.
Avi Geller: So smart, earpieces and headsets. The first product we deliver is a headset for the trucking industry, and it's a Bluetooth headset, connects to your smartphone, for truck drivers.
And it detects if a driver is fatigued or distracted, while they're driving, it constantly monitors their performance and their in situation, for alertness and things like that while they're driving, in order to keep them safe on the road. The way, the way we came up with this was actually initially by knowing that we wanted to be a hearables company and make this kind of technology and then looking for the best market to go out with. I myself, come from a enterprise sales type of background.
And, and the thinking was rather than start with a consumer product, we're going to start with a business oriented product and with a number of possible markets. And the market has seemed to lead to the best fit for our technology and a market that's ready for this kind of technology was trucking.
So that, that's what we set out to do and created a product for the trucking industry.
Aaron Watson: Okay. So you, you said that the, the product senses, when a driver is getting fatigued or how their performance is doing, how does it actually go about measuring that or sensing the effectiveness of the driver?
Avi Geller: Okay. Yeah, so what's important is that the headset has a number of sensors inside of it. So if you think of kind of a typical Bluetooth earpiece or, or, a headset that you might, envision kind of a call center person, wearing what is a band over the head and there's a microphone, boom. That's physically what it looks like.
Really quick, the reason it has a microphone, boom, in the bigger incident advantage. Is that drivers drive for about 10 hours a day and day after day after day, they need something that's very comfortable and the truck is a very loud environment. So you need a, the microphone similar to what we're holding here so that you can be heard well, rather than a Bluetooth system in the, in the dash of the car, something like that. But in this headset, we have an array of sensors. A three-dimensional accelerometer and a three dimensional gyroscope and a three-dimensional magnetometer. And we get, GPS readings, and there's a few other sensors like temperature and a few more actually that we're adding right now.
And what we've done is created a number of algorithms that are analyzing the data that's coming from mostly from the driver's head motions. And it turns out, the motions of a driver's head are very insightful into the status of a person in their situational context or, or really how they're performing, what, the function they're trying to, to accomplish at that time.
So for trucking, a very straightforward example is mirror checking. So we can actually detect emotion that is checking the right mirror, checking the left mirror of a truck. And there's a federal guideline the drivers should check your mirrors, truck drivers, check their mirrors every five to eight seconds.
That sounds like a lot, but it's actually right about where somebody is when they are naturally where they are when they are focused and alert and not fatigued and driving a vehicle. So that's one thing that we monitor at all times, we call that the heartbeat of safe driving. Other things are the head bob, if you've ever been driving down the street and, you get tired, it could be late at night, early in the morning where you just haven't slept much recently and you kind of uncontrollably what's called microsleep, for a split second, and then it usually scares you enough that your head snaps up suddenly.
So that's a pretty distinct motion that we pick up. And these are examples of what we can pick up through these motion detecting sensors we have on the headset.
Aaron Watson: Gotcha. So is there a then like central some sort of central location where this is all being analyzed or is it, specific to that single headset and the headset kind of self regulating for that individual driver?
Avi Geller: So it's actually both, there's the headset, which is kind of an independent entity with sensors inside of it. And it's got its own computer or micro-controller inside of it. And it's doing some of its own analysis. At the same time this headset is paired to a smartphone, so you can do phone calls and on the smartphone, we have an app.
So the data is actually flowing from the headset to the phone, many, you know, tens, dozens of times a second. And we do some of the heavier algorithm, excuse me, algorithm processing on the phone. And then for fleet management, now we sell our solution to trucking fleets rather than directly at truck drivers.
So the data actually flows the event data from the phone to a cloud database and an analytics platform. And then a fleet manager or safety manager can log in through a web browser and see the status of all his or her drivers on the road at any given time perform analytics, monitor driver performance over time and things like that.
Aaron Watson: Gotcha.
This blending of so many different sensors and wireless capabilities and artificial intelligence seems, at least what it sounds like to me is the type of technology that maybe would have been potentially possible to create a decade ago, but would have been basically on not, not, not something to be capable of buying from inexpensive when you couldn't put it in one affordable package.
But as these sensors have become less expensive, it seems like it opened up the potential for this market that otherwise wouldn't have existed. Is that, is that a fair analysis?
Avi Geller: You're absolutely correct. So one of the reasons I founded this company now, and this is what we're doing is because we're at the perfect time for this kind of thing.
It's something that you really couldn't do even two or three years ago. And the fact that you can buy off the shelf sensors for in volume, for pennies, or even at low volumes for a few dollars, and not only the price of them, but the technology that's available, the sensors are, are extremely, high quality and accurate something that didn't even exist 15 or 20 years ago, let alone small enough to fit inside of an earpiece.
The power consumption, in terms of, electricity or battery power has improved dramatically. So now you can, our headset will work for an entire days use of constant talk to him. You can be on the phone with our headset for 14 hours straight before you have to recharge it. So it's for a full day's use that kind of thing.
Wasn't really possible. A number of years ago, as well as we can we take advantage of smartphones, the computing power inside of a smartphone. Is remarkable. And you think, you know, less than 10 years ago, there was no iPhone. So all of this has come together in addition to the 3g cell network. So we have data, as I mentioned, flowing from a phone to a cloud database analytics platform.
So 10 years ago that didn't exist. And the only way you could, you could send data from a moving truck to a data platform is via satellite connection. And that's gonna be the origins of this industry of technology and trucking and mobile tracking is really from satellite based systems. So you have technology has changed so quickly and so dramatically that's opened up possibilities for the kinds of things that we're doing. And I talked about the safety use case, but in the future, there's other use cases around productivity, tracking, optimizations for the trucks.
Aaron Watson: Gotcha. You mentioned earlier on that you knew that you wanted to get into hearables and kind of be a, maybe a leader in that niche. Why hearables, what attracted you to that realm?
Avi Geller: Yeah. So when I was first looking into starting this company, I looked at the opportunities out there where I could get a company off the ground, and really it needs to be a game changer. I wanted to start a VC backed high growth, innovative startup, the kind of Silicon valley type a startup. I come from I'm an engineer by training. I have a degree in computer science spend number of years, both developing software and management type roles. Things like that. So I was looking at the opportunities out there and internet of things is a tremendous opportunity. And we're related to that as well as wearable devices.
And then we looked at wearable devices. This is now a couple of years ago when I first started researching it at the time Google Glass was getting a lot of attention and it was the beginning of the smartwatch, a phenomenon. This was before the apple watch, but there started to be products like the pebble watch.
And when I looked at Google Glass, you know what I saw as a product, that's pretty cool technology, but going in the wrong direction in terms of social acceptance, and it was getting a lot of bad publicity around people where, you know, I don't know if I can say this on, on the air, glass holes, things like that.
It's just not socially acceptable and comfortable by any means to be talking to somebody with a camera on their face, looking at you. Kind of the point of technology is that it disappears as it gets more advanced it's useful while not being visible and, and Google glass was the opposite of that. So I realized socially that's going to be a problem.
And then the watch is interesting, but really the value proposition isn't there. You've put something on your wrist. It doesn't, it doesn't provide a lot of value compared to something else which, which I realize is a hearable. If you look at your phones, people are comfortable wearing headphones in public. We do it all the time. You're comfortable being around other people, wearing headphones in public. There was a period of time where everybody was kind of cool to have a Jawbone style you're young and Bluetooth earpiece, and, and now it's maybe less cool, but it's still used by a lot of people. It's pretty useful.
And I said, okay, socially, this is going to be really accepted. You can do that. In terms of the value proposition here, you have a piece of technology that can speak to you, literally speak to you privately. You could speak back to it for the most part privately. It's on your, on your head so you get a lot of the value of Google glass that you don't get out of a watch that you get it in a socially acceptable form that said, all right, I'll bet we can make some pretty, pretty useful and cool products around the ear versus the other wearable form factors, in that kind of place my bet on the future of wearables being hearables, and we went from there.
Aaron Watson: Gotcha. That's very well thought out. And interestingly kind of leading to the decision to actually start your own company. In episode 43, talked to your buddy Dick Chang and in our conversation, he mentioned that he kind of had the philosophy of, you jumped right into entrepreneurship, like dive in face first and that he's had some debates with you about kind of having a different philosophy and your history leading into starting this company is you were at a company with 10,000 people in a company with a thousand people, then a company with a hundred people. And now you're the CEO and founder of company with less than 10 employees.
How do you feel that that kind of progression prepared you to be successful in this venture in entrepreneurship?
Avi Geller: Yeah, that's it, you know, Dick's a great guy. We're, we're, we're really good friends. It's funny, we're similar in many ways, but we have taken the complete opposite paths to get to where we are today, which is running a founding and running a startup company.
And that's actually, what something that's beautiful about it is, you know, for people out there that are interested in and starting their own companies and running their own company. There is no right way to do it. So it's great that you can look at Dick's story and then you can see my story and I'll talk more about it now and then find your own story to get to where you want to be.
I think that's wonderful. It's one of the great things about a business entrepreneurship is that there is no right way. There's no recipe. But I, I took a path where I started by working for SAP, a 50,000 employee company. And I graduated from MIT with a degree in computer science and I was you know, writing software and in this gigantic company and in one office of, of many, not in the headquarters they're based in Germany.
But I learned a lot along the way, ended up being there for seven years and I didn't really know, realize how much I was learning along the way. One thing I did realize that I learned is that I don't want to work for a 50,000 person in company. And I knew I wanted to get into the startup business and maybe one day start my own company, but rather than just quitting my job and starting a company, I guess I took a more conservative approach.
I got an MBA along the way in a kind of, they call it an executive MBA where you're, you're getting it while you're while you're working. So that took a couple of years and I learned a few things and, and really to benefit in that or, is the great friends and contacts I got from them.
Aaron Watson: So that was like night classes after work.
Avi Geller: Yeah. Right. So that was like, yeah. Night class and weekend classes. And it was a nice program joint with Kellogg, and I was living in Israel at the time, so Tel Aviv university in Kellogg, and we traveled all over the world and it was a really cool program. And I started learning, especially as an engineer, you can, then you start seeing balance sheets and income statements and financial planning and marketing and pricing class and all these topics, which are, which is actually really useful.
But that was one. So I said, oh, I'll get an MBA. And I'll learn more about business to masters in business. So I learned about business. Does that prepare you to start a company or nothing really prepares you, but it's something I did. And then I said, all right, I need to go work for a startup company.
So I actually ended up getting a job managing a product management group in 140 person company. And it was again in Israel, it was a company backed by Sequoia well-funded. It was around for five years or so. I mean, maybe in seven years at the time had, you know, tens of millions in revenue, but still that kind of startup feel to it.
It was an internet advertising company with really cool technology and, you know, analyzing tens of millions of webpage hits and clicks and actions in real time and deciding which which ad for which person and which time and all sorts of. Really really advanced stuff with analytics and, and saw the whole business from that.
And I learned a lot about really managing technology in a in a startup type environment. So that was a great experience, did that for two years. And then I knew I wanted to get into a smaller company and I was starting to play around with founding my own company, and I had some ideas and it was kind of working at a business plan written for a different idea and starting to talk to potential investor types.
And then I met somebody who was running and was founded and was a CEO of a startup company and that was about four people. And he, you know, we really hit it off. At first I thought he might invest in my company. And then I realized that he, he kind of invest, he, he had invested in, was now running this, this other startup and he offered me to join.
So I was one of the very first people and I joined and the reason I did it, cause this was his fourth company and he's a very talented guy he's been around for a while. Obviously. And I realized that this was going to be a great education. So I went to work and I was kind of the number two in the company is a head of sales, had a product management, you know, he and I went together to raise money.
We raised $4 million from venture capital. We created a product, it was a product in big data analytics working with social media data. We went out to get customer and as we got customers, actually telecommunications companies in Southeast Asia, Had a big need for what we're doing with the kind of data we are analyzing. And we signed some pretty big contracts with companies in Singapore and the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia. And that was a tremendous experience. Just watching this experience, CEO you know, leading meetings where we're investing or we're talking to investors, but I was there and I was more on the technical side yet the kind of the young, younger entrepreneur type in a meeting. And we were a great. A great pair for these meetings, but that was a tremendous learning opportunity for me. And then ended up moving back to the states with my, with my wife who got into a master's program in Boston. So we came back to Boston and that was a very, you know, kind of two years have gone by. And it was a good opportunity for, for me not to take this kind of in the last 10 years of work experience and knowledge and. And say, okay, now, now it's really the time to go out and start my own company.
Aaron Watson: As you made that transition from the big SAP to that last startup, before you started your own, you talked about that being great learner experience. What were some of the big takeaways that contrasted to your experience in the bigger organization?
Avi Geller: Yeah. Why is that different? So the big organization, everything moves relatively slowly, very slowly than you could say. And you develop product on a timescale of years. If you start thinking about an idea today, and you think it's the greatest idea in the world, even if you need three months and three people to develop it, it's going to take three years and 300 people.
It's just how those companies function and all the processes you have to go through. And the kind of the levels of management that you have to go through. And the thinking and everything is very well. Segregated in terms of here's product management, here's outbound product management and on private there's marketing here, sales here's development, here's QA, and everything is different offices and different people and different countries, they just move on a very different scale and they're signing deals. You know, a company like SAP, a product that might bring in a hundred million dollars in revenue is a waste of time. It just doesn't move the needle. And it's, it's an experience, and so previously I learned more than I, and I realized I was learning.
You realize you, you really learn what professional product management is and professional sales and professional R and D how you develop a product with a thousand people working together through the stages of defining a product, understanding requirements, developing initial versions, how you do QA, QA is a whole world that you see done professionally by people who've done it for decades. So you learn a lot about that. When you go to a company of five people. When I was at regrew about 10 or 12, while I was still there, things are very different. You're trying to get your first customer and when you get a customer and he says, I want, you know, you have these features, which is great, but if it can do this other feature, then I'm really interested.
You do it and you do it in a month. And you kind of half understand what you're doing and you and the customer, you realize customers say things and it sounds like it's a done deal, but sometimes they're just brainstorming along with you. But a lot of it is relationship. And, and kind of building a certain level of trust between, we were selling to big companies, telecommunications companies, and here we are in this little 10 person company, but we got the deals and a lot of it, it it's a different mentality. It's being as quick. Your advantage over SAP or any other large company is that you can do what they want. Years faster than what the, you know, the bigger company can do. And then your challenge is to convince them that you will be around for years and what they get is going to work and you're going to support them. And they're going to be able to succeed with you. Cause that guy who you're selling to has to convince his boss, why he chose you over a bigger company. So you have to enable that. So very different mentality. The great thing about it is you get to do all of it. You you know, there's only a handful of people in your company.
You are talking to customers, you're understanding latest technology, you're defining requirements for a product you're involved in testing it. You're involved in rolling it out. You're involved in supporting it. You're involved in NDAs and other contracts you're involved in the whole business. So if you're the kind of person that enjoys seeing the whole picture, then it's wonderful. If you're the kind of person that really enjoys being an expert in one subset, you might feel a little bit overlooked.
Aaron Watson: Absolutely. If you're not willing to round out your skillset, then that's probably not the role that's going to be for you. So now that Maven Machines is a little over a year old, when you look back on the last year or so, is there anything that you wish you knew like day one that you know now or anything, any advice you'd give yourself day one that you've had to learn as you went on?
Avi Geller: Yeah. I mean, the advice I would give myself if I talk to myself a year ago, It was advice that was given to me, but I would make sure I followed it better than I did. And that is you got to get out there and, and talk to your customers as early, as often as possible. And as often as possible, I mean, really, you can't get out there too early and you can't do it enough.
And what would I do? I mean, by that, for our specific use cases, we make headsets, right? So of course, you know, when we were looking into headsets for trucking, said, all right, let's go talk to truck drivers and, and trucking company management and owners. And we did that and we talked to a few dozen drivers and we talked to them in truck stops. And we talked to them at potential customers that we visited and we wrote up a S kind of a survey or questionnaire that we, when we were interviewing and we would kind of fill it in to kind of see if we can learn. We had a bunch of questions about how often they use a headset, what the user, for what they'd like in a headset, what they're looking for. And we felt like, oh, we're doing this great marketing. We're doing the right thing.
And then when we went out and we said, okay, we're onto something. We are going to make a heads-up for the trucking industry. This is going to work. And we said, okay, we don't to actually make the headset. We want to make the electronics with the technology and put it inside of an existing headset. I don't want to actually make the plastic and learn how to make a comfortable headset. So we looked at the headsets that were out there on the market, and initially we thought they don't look that impressive. Let's get a really good quality Bose style headset. So one more vantage we give to our potential customers is that the drivers get a really high quality headset.
So we got a bunch of, you had like 10 different headsets from different distributors and manufacturers. And we took them to drivers and their big cushy, comfortable looking headsets versus the ones in the market, which were much, flimsier looking less substantial headsets. And we showed them the bigger ones they said, what do you think?
And they said, it looks good. I would like to try it. So based on that, we went out and we developed our first product for that from one of the better headsets. And we released it. And initially a driver said, Rail, you know, you know, when we got our first customers, we rolled out to the drivers and then not long after we started getting feedback, it's too big and bulky.
And that's when we realized we could have done more to know not just asked the drivers what they think about this bigger, more comfortable headset, but actually go on the road with them or given to them without any technology inside, just go wear it for a day. And then when we realized that it's comfortable for a few hours, it's actually the headset we went with was designed for DJs and music industry.
And it's great for a couple hours. It's comfortable and sound quality is great, but if you wear it for 10 hours and you're in and out of a truck and it's hot or it's cold, It, it starts to be less comfortable and you actually want something that's less substantial, which is similar to what's out there on the market.
So that's an example of a lesson that we learned. I would say the hard, the hard way. I mean, we went, we, we fixed it. We now have a much better headset for the trucking industry on the market and it's getting great reviews and it's something that didn't actually set us back very much. The things would have been better and it's kind of an example of how important it is. It's never too early. If you're, if you have an idea before you build anything, or if you have one hint of functionality of what you want to build, put it into a customer's hands and you have no idea what you're going to work.
Aaron Watson: Absolutely. And there's a big difference between testing and surveying. Cause if you survey them and they put it on like, oh yeah, this would, this would work. I mean, there's so many things where the customer thinks they know what they want, but then when they're actually using it, that kind of differs from what they perceive might be the best fit for them. So that's a great insight. Thank you. When you think about. The future of Maven, your company, or just the kind of hearables market in general, what do you have your eye on? What, where would you like to see this industry go and, and how can it serve customers or companies better?
Avi Geller: Yeah, I think there's going to be a huge future in in hearables. There's there's a, a good chance. Well, I don't know if I'm hoping is the right word or what what I think is actually the way the iPhone changed the world. I think there's a possibility that hearables could have a similar revolutionary effect. I think as you put in an earpiece in your ear and you're comfortable wearing it all day as the earpiece has, what's known as contextual awareness.
So it knows what you're doing, what you're trying to do in those. If you're in a conversation with somebody, if you're sitting down, if you're standing up, if you're indoors, if you're outdoors, what your schedule looks like for your calendar, it starts to know you, what you prefer and knows that you're running low on milk and you happen to be driving by a supermarket and you're going to need to buy a couple of things on the way.
That it's going to be basically a personal assistant with you at all times. And what Apple's trying to do with the watch is actually going to end up happening with the earpiece, the hearable, where the phone gets left at home. You don't use the phone that much. And most of what you're doing is actually by an earpiece in your ear, as you get messages, it dictates them to you as you respond, you know, nowadays messages, nobody writes letters anymore.
Everything is. A few words, maybe a few sentences maximum, it can be done orally kind of verbal verbally. And I think that's where things are going to go. And I think as, as the technology advances and integration between the earpiece with Siri and connectivity and artificial intelligence and machine learning and dependent algorithms that we're developing and the whole system comes together.
It's going to say when, when you, as you're walking out of your house, one, you forgot to take the garbage out. Two, it's going to rain in about two hours and you're going to be out at that time, bringing an umbrella with you. Three, you might want, you know, traffic's building up, you might want to tell that person, whoever you're meeting now, you're going to be 15 minutes late and all this happens automatically.
And at the end of the day, it's a personal assistant. That's with you like a thing of like a human personal assistant, not a PDA, but like something very human like that's with you at all times. And that's the long-term vision. And in something that we're, we're trying to play a part.
Aaron Watson: That sounds really exciting. I think that's really requires a little bit of imagination to see that next generation of computing, because a lot of people are used to everything being manually entered through a keyboard. And then, you know, a lot of people have Siri on their phones, but they're not necessarily utilizing it or they just do it say, you know, series what's the weather outside or something very, very basic. But having that kind of more intense integration is really. Opens up a whole lot of possibilities for what your, what your computer can be.
Avi Geller: Yeah.
Aaron Watson: So I'm going to start wrapping up here. I want to be respectful of your time. Before we tell people how to connect and you should issue the personal challenge for the audience. Is there anything that I didn't give you a chance to say?
Avi Geller: Yeah, no. First of all, I think it's great that this program exists. I think I'll say something. I don't know if most of your listeners are in Pittsburgh. We are in Pittsburgh. So I'm I'm relatively new to the city. I came to the city to found the company, Maven Machines and what brought me here was actually the accelerator program, Alpha Lab Gear, that's where I met Dick as well. And want to say is about Pittsburgh. It's a, it's got a bright future. I, I think I'm, I'm blown away by the amount of people that are interested in startups by the quality of the people by quality of the city, a lot of the history of the state of that comes into creating what it is today.
It's you, you can see it, you know, clearly by companies like Google and Uber opening, big offices and bigger offices. And Apple's coming, universities that are here. I think it's a, it's a tremendous city and I'm very excited to be a, a piece of it. And, and I think as as a company, as hopefully Maven Machines grows, you know right now we're, we're about eight people and hopefully some 20 and then 200. I mean, this city is going to go through a massive growth in the technology space and this kind of a program, hopefully it helps people do that. Helps people be a part of it. And. People are welcome to reach out to me with questions. And however I can help somebody take that step forward towards a startup career entrepreneurship or being a business off the ground. We'll be happy to help.
Aaron Watson: Great. You definitely hit on something that we've, we've mentioned before in this show, but it is the community of the Pittsburgh startup scene where, you know, you're about one degree, Bobby's Apollo was on the show and he basically talked about how everyone is, you know, one degree of separation from anyone else in town.
So if you don't know the person, you know, someone who knows the person that you need to meet, who can help you. And everyone's so willing to help because there is that kind of smaller community aspect to it. So that's great. If people do want to connect with you, ask questions, learn more about Maven Machines, where can they find it digitally?
Avi Geller: Yeah. I mean, I'm on LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook through our website, but really feel free to email me. I'll do what I can to answer. I'm usually pretty good about it. Feel free to reach out it's. My first, my full first name Avishai , A-V-I-S-H-A-I and mavenmachines.com. So please do reach out and we are located at Alpha Lab Gear.
So if you know where that is also, it's a great place. If you're really interested in the startup scene to, to come by and we'll give you a tour of the company and the other companies there and the whole program and yeah feel free.
Aaron Watson: Cool. All of that will be linked to in the show firstname.lastname@example.org/ podcast.
Make sure you check it out. Obviously gonna give you the mic one last time to take it away with the personal challenge.
Avi Geller: Oh yeah. So you told me a little bit about that before. I think it's great. I was thinking about it during our conversation. One thing that helped me. Do what I'm trying to do today with this with Maven machines is go out and do something, be responsible and own something, and it could be organizing a dinner party.
It could be organizing a gathering of friends, you know, around some kind of event or some kind of topic, but take the leadership. Come up with the idea and you know, it could be, and as I said, any, any idea you know, it could be, let's all get together and watch the Steelers next weekend. But if that's your idea of find the right people to participate, find the right venue, get the right food, make the whole thing happen, invite people own something.
And that's a very small scale. You got to where you can do bigger things and help the community and help the environment, or, but I would say own something and then make it happen. Take the responsibility. And as you go through that, there's there's periods as you're organizing, no matter how small or big it is, where, oh my God, it's not going to work.
The people I thought were going to come work in a calm it's raining foods, companies out something's going to happen. And that experience of, of going through the process of creating something is invaluable. And it's just, it's the same thing as running a company, it's just a different scale and different period of time, amount of time.
So that would be my challenge is Is do something that Steve Jobs would say, you know, make a dent in the universe.
Aaron Watson: Absolutely. I love it. We just went deep with Avi Geller of Maven Machines hope everyone out there has a great day.
Thank you so much for listening, Avi, thank you again for coming on the show.
Ever wondered what the path to being an Amazon #1 bestseller looks like? Meet Taylor Pearson.
Taylor taught himself Portuguese while working as a freelance Spanish interpreter, then bought a one-way plane ticket to Brazil to teach English. Between teaching classes, he played semi-pro football and built a profitable publishing business selling advertising to kitchen furniture manufacturers.
He cold-called marketing agencies using my small kitchen furniture publishing business to get a job. Went from intern to lead project manager in less than six months at the leading digital marketing agency in Memphis. While there, he managed accounts for international manufacturing brands and higher education institutions.
He left that to join the Tropical MBA team, a top 25 iTunes podcast and 10k+ subscriber blog. There he assisted in event planning and community management for The Dynamite Circle, a private mastermind forum of over 1000 of the web’s top location independent entrepreneurs. He also managed the online marketing and sales for a portfolio of 7-figure eCommerce businesses in the hospitality industry, primarily the Portable Bar Company, which grew over 527%. Then, he ran sales and product development for a valet parking software startup, selling into enterprise parking operators while managing product development and strategy.
Now, he primarily writes on his blog and consults with authors, entrepreneurs and CEOs about how to find clarity and confidence in their businesses, expand their marketing through thought leadership and scale their internal business systems.
Taylor’s Challenge; Publish something publicly this week and share it on social media.
You should read Taylor’s Book, The End of Jobs.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont
Connect with Taylor
Find links and information referenced in each episode.