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Bridging the Physical and Digital, An interview with Frederic Bastien, Part 1

6 min read Mnubos’ CEO Frederic Bastien sat down with PNR, a leading management consulting firm, [...]

6 min read
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Mnubos’ CEO Frederic Bastien sat down with PNR, a leading management consulting firm, to discuss his career path and how it led him to founding Mnubo. They also discussed on how Mnubo evolved since it’s inception in 2012, how it has become a leader in data analytics and the company’s vision for the future.

In this part, Frédéric discusses the professional path which allowed him to develop his expertise in telecommunications and to found Mnubo

Podcast Transcript:

 

PNR: Welcome to the point of no return podcast, a show at the intersection of technology and strategy. Today is a special show, I welcome Frederic Bastien. CEO of Mnubo. We will talk about the company but also where is IoT today and where it is headed. Fred is a passionate entrepreneur with a keen sense for innovation and value creation. He is currently driving Mnubo to be a catalyst in opening up the Internet of Things space for OEMs to maximize value from the data.

As an entrepreneur, Fred has won the 2014 Ernst and Young emerging entrepreneur award as well as the 2014 PwC Vision to Reality award. He has 20 years of experience in the mobile and data industry and he’s been leading Mnubo to it’s forefront. I hope you enjoy the conversation. Thank you Fred for coming!

RELATEDinterested in monetizing your data? click below to read more!

1. How did you develop an interest in the telecommunication industry? How did you fall into that space?

Fred: That’s a really good question. I was studying engineering in Polytechnique Montréal and was fascinated about aerospace. My first choice was to go into that sector. During my studies, I was accepted in a very special program financed by SPAR. After a year in the program, I ended up finding an internship in Telecom, I immediately fell in love and quit the aerospace program to get back into telecom. I found a position as employee number 19 at Fido, MicroCell at the time, early in 1996. MicroCell labs were starting internship programs and I was the first intern there. I then spent the summer with them installing antennas in Montreal for Fido. Although I still had 2 years of studies at Polytechnique, I decided to I wanted to work at MicroCell as they were launching the first GSM network in Montréal, a challenge I loved.

I then joined Teleglobe in 1998 and ended up being responsible for international side deployment. The travel bug really got me there. I ended up living in seven cities in a year and a half before finding a job where I could finally settle down, or so I thought…I then joined Stephane Ouaknine in the early days of BlueSlice as Head of products in early 2006 and came back to Montréal for that. We took the company from having one client to 25 and expanded in several countries. BlueSlice was acquired by a company listed on the NASDAQ called Tekelec. I became General Manager for that business line. We tripled business in a year and a half before getting acquired by Oracle. I then decided to leave as the company was becoming too big. Blue Slice had already touched a bit of “Machine to Machine” (M2M) interaction, the ancestor of IoT and data analytics. In 2012, we decided to start a business to address specifically those issues… That business was Mnubo.


« This was the problem we set to solve: let’s take the data from types of equipments and create business value around it »


 

2. How hard of a leap of faith was this decision of starting your own company?

Fred : It wasn’t hard to leave the Oracle environment. The company was getting too big for my liking… I wanted to control my destiny. We knew there was something in IoT. We knew that companies could been successful in creating business models around data without the dependency on the cellular and had already understood the value of this for valve and turbines manufacturers. This was the problem we set to solve: let’s take the data from types of equipments and create business value around it. 3G, 4G and even Wifi could allow us to create our own business model that was not dependent on big telecom companies. We then asked ourselves who had the most to win or lose from IoT. We realized manufacturers were the ones that would be either completely bypassed by a newcomer or would be the ones wanting to do implement IoT analytics. If they wanted to implement this, did they have the technology to do so? That is when we decided to develop the platform.


« We always knew we were early for the simple reason that we didn’t have many competitors  and companies that were in our field were kind of adjacent or solving connectivity problems but not solving the actual data problem. We simply didn’t realize how early we were »


3. Why did you choose Industrial as the first wave of clients? And did you stay true to your core vision?

 

Fred: We did stay true to the vision by making sense of data from equipment. On the other hand We did pick three verticals initially which didn’t materialize. We had thought of targeting Health, Transport and Industrial. Very soon, we realized that consumer devices was what was happening here. We had customers ready to pay so we shifted our efforts, focusing on consumer devices, and started winning clients. It was only starting 2015 that we started really getting traction and success on the Industrial side.

 

4. In the early days, did you ever feel you were maybe a bit too early, that the technology was a bit too much for paying customers?
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Fred: We always knew we were early for the simple reason that we didn’t have many competitors. Companies that were in our field were kind of adjacent or solving connectivity problems, but not solving the actual data problem. We simply didn’t realize how early we were. Today in 2018, traditional equipment manufacturers finally wake up to to the IoT and say “oh my god! If I don’t instrument my valve, I’m gonna be out of business”. This is happening right now, six years after Mnubo started. In the first two years, Fitness bands, smart home equipments and thermostats were extremely relevant. We learned a lot with those use cases and it allowed us to understand the pain points and key business drivers influencing the market.

That’s all for today! Follow us next week to read the second part of Frédéric’s interview! Thank you to PNR for their time.


Find out how Mnubo is tapping into the benefits of product data by transforming raw sensor data into actionable business insights. Read more here!

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