The Future Is Now: Robert Messer Of IPTECHVIEW On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Do not take yourself too seriously.
Don’t believe your own press releases, and always listen to people that care.. There is always a nugget of truth in most suggestions.

As a part of our series about cutting-edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Messer.

Robert Messer is the President & CEO of Dallas-based IPTECHVIEW, a 6-year-old software as a service business (VSaaS). The company is a spinoff from ABP Technology, a specialty distributor of IP technology he founded 21 years ago. Today IPTECHVIEW develops and operates a global cloud video surveillance platform. The company’s mission is to protect people, places and assets by providing visibility, smart alerts and controls.

Before these two companies in the USA, he founded and ran several technology companies in Barcelona, Spain. He immigrated to the US in 1993 and became EVP of AJ Weller Corp, Shreveport, Louisiana, a business focused on composite materials and technology improvements in heavy industry. This gave him much insight into the operations, maintenance and security of manufacturing plants and industrial facilities.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

After college in Germany, I lived in Spain, where I started a business reselling computers. At that time, you could only sell a computer if you created a tailor-made software solution to the customer’s needs. That got me into software development. Later I started importing computer systems, and our reseller business morphed into a distribution business. I helped other resellers with the solutions we had made. I guess I am still kind of doing the same thing today.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Even as a tiny business, I discovered I could sell exciting, innovative products competing with huge companies. I started ABP marketing SIP phone technology, our product was a new IP phone made by a snom a small German company. At that time, ABP was only one salesperson and one office manager, and within six months, we were selling to IBM and HP, winning business against Cisco Phones. The lesson here is David can beat Goliath. We passed a million dollars at the end of our first real business year.

Can you tell us about the cutting-edge technological breakthroughs you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

A few years back, we started selling business security cameras. We soon realized the systems and processes people used to sell and install were too complicated and costly, and the systems needed to give users more of what they wanted.

Today’s solutions give customers solutions based on expensive servers, large disc drives units that often fail, and come with software that is hard to use. Accessing video from outside is inconvenient and insecure, installation and configuration take days, and the cost to set up and maintain is high. Many users that need surveillance are not able to buy professional solutions because they are too expensive and then end-up with cheap but ineffective consumer-grade solutions.

We wanted to make a system where customers could just buy as many cameras as they needed for their place. Pick the proper camera type for their application, have them installed and then provide access to people in these companies to start using them without needing to learn much. Intuitive software with a few built-in videos to learn the rest.

We also felt our system should be multi-site so businesses could manage all their locations, and everything should work on users existing devices, smartphones, laptops or bigger multi-screen workstations. We made all that happen and now are securing facilities and provisioning video management of security cameras in about 20 countries.

How do you think this might change the world?

We believe smart security solutions can make the world a safer place and provide extra value by enabling workflow and process improvements and quality control, plus providing videos as training tools, situational awareness, and more. Adoption always grows when the prices come down.

At IPTECHVIEW, we reduced the cost of deployment to a fraction by eliminating the need for local servers and hard discs by putting ting in the cloud. We made a system that needed just cameras or pre-configured edge-device & cloud. Without servers and software, we lowered the deployment cost. Now many things like Security cameras, video intercoms for doors, access control card readers, and more would work as soon as mounted and wired to their network.

Last we also made Video Access so easy with our cloud software that everyone within the organization can use it. Now not only the security manager or loss prevention can access the video. It is now possible to provide access to HR, the warehouse manager, and the CEO.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks of this technology that people should think more deeply about?

We believe there is a potential to democratize video so many stakeholders at the company can use surveillance cameras to see the space they manage or cohabit at work. Particularly in our new hybrid and WFH world, this is valuable.

A warehouse manager can “oversee” his warehouse on a day he needs to work from home. The production manager can check on process flow and more.

The concept that people are allowed to see the same workspace they can see when they are at work makes sense. In a hybrid world with few people, sometimes no one else is there on certain days. If many in the company use surveillance cameras in their day to day workflow and can see the space users move in, that would make the lonely worker feel safer. But there are always risks and downsides that need to be weighed and balanced.

How do we define privacy, and what are the lines that such open video solutions should not cross? Like always, when new technology emerges, there will be pros and cons and as a society, we will need to adapt, evaluate and regulate our new future.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

We have become a leading supplier to service providers and shipped millions of IP Phones. We could see how the reseller business for PBXs shrunk as the centralized cloud PBXs grew. The same fate could befall our camera resellers and integrators, but it dawned on us that that was a bit different since cameras and door stations need more physical installation. We realized we could help the security installers if we provided them with their own partner-centric cloud platform for cameras to sell. We also offer to preconfigure the cameras and devices to give them the same advantages a dedicated cloud service provider would have to help them cut installation time and lower their costs.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

The challenges are for our partners to change their habits and business model to get ready for the future. They must learn to start selling a yearly subscription instead of on-premise hardware. They need to educate their team that it is better to sell a service contract as a recurring service plan than do “Break Fix”.

The gross margin of service delivered as remote work is way better than service done locally. Especially considering the lost time and cost of transportation to and from sites. Technology partners can handle customers in a much larger geography, can do more projects with the same amount of people, and customers get much faster service at a flat service fee.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

Today we spend a lot of time educating everyone in the market, from end-users, and enterprise companies to resellers and integrators. We are also teaching businesses how they can integrate their alarm systems with our video surveillance by simply installing a few AlarmReady cameras from IPTECHVIEW.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The list of people that helped us is long. I am incredibly lucky and will be forever thankful to have had a passionate team that worked on making the vision of a more partner-centric cloud video surveillance solution real.

We also were lucky to have some sizeable early adopter customers and integration partners that bet on us that reaffirmed our beliefs and commitment to the vision.

Also, friends in the world of PR, Editors in the Technology space all helped us initially with promotion when we could not afford a lot of marketing.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

It’s a bit early for us, but we are looking forward to a time when we can do more of that.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. There is more to life than the company.
    It is very hard as a CEO to keep a work-life balance. You should reign in your passion by telling yourself you will be better if you recharge with other activities.
    The truth is that these activities become inspirational for your work.
  2. Do not take yourself too seriously.
    Don’t believe your own press releases, and always listen to people that care.. There is always a nugget of truth in most suggestions.
  3. If people dont work out in their jobs fire them soon.
    Many times I tried to be nice and find a way to make things work for people that did not fit. It ended up making life worse for both of us.
  4. Everything takes twice as long, costs twice as much, and will be half as unique, special, or cool as you thought it would be. Plan to be over budget. If things only add marginal value consider not doing them.
  5. Enjoy the simple things and have fun every day. Do not plan on ignoring life to have all the fun at the end. The end may come sooner than you thought.

This is as much about your life as it is about the lives of all that are working for you.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Always be on the lookout for adding value and improving things around you. Be it to the environment, towards people you work with, your customers or the economic situation of yourself and those around you.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

When I started my first business, I read a book that had a phrase like “If you do enough good things for others, good things will happen to you too.” We always acted that toward employees and customers, and vendors. Our principles helped us stay focused on helping our customers grow their businesses, and our success and longevity are a testimonial that the principle works. Of course, this only works for those that let themselves be helped.

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

We are too far down the road for VCs, but I would not mind finding the right strategic investors. Our business model has incredible potential, and now that we have overcome most of the technological hurdles, we are entering a phase that is process and execution centric. This may require more investment than we can bootstrap. It could be helpful to work with a partner where we could leverage certain aspects of their strength.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

The best two are:

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

The Future Is Now: Robert Messer Of IPTECHVIEW On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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