Innovation Matters with Jay Larsen is live streamed weekly at 3pm MST. 

Join as Jay connects with industry leaders and government officials to discuss innovation and issues that matter.  Recordings are available after the live cast is concluded.

 
 
 

May 28th 2020

Brad Frazer, Hawley Troxell

Jim Gasaway, Kount

 
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May 21st 2020

Kristen Ruffin, AmerisourceBergen

Mike Self, StageDotO

Cylinda Roach, Sparklight

 
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May 14th 2020

Stephen Cilley, Ataraxis

Brent Berg, Valiant Productions

Greg Wilson, Office of the Governor

 
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May 7th 2020

Sean Robbins, Regence Blue Shield

Lynn, Intermountain 3D

Dan Puga, In Time Tec

 
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April 30th 2020

Andy Scoggins, Albertsons Companies

Angela Hemingway, Idaho STEM Action Center

Congressman Russ Fulcher

 
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April 23rd 2020

Hadi Partovi, Code.org

Rick Folkerson, Success in Education

Representative Gayann DeMorduant

Mark Peters, Idaho National Laboratory

 
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April 16th 2020

Reid Stephan, St. Luke's Health Systems

Sherawn Reberry, Middleton School District

Dan DeCloss, Plextrac

 
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April 9th 2020

Paris Cole, Truckstop

Mark Willden, ICCU

Mayor Rebecca Casper, City of Idaho Falls

 
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April 2nd 2020

Paris Cole, Truckstop

Mayor Debbi Kling, City of Nampa

Duree Westover, Experis

Geri Rackow, Eastern Idaho Public Health

 
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March 26th 2020

George Mulhern, Cradlepoint

Sean Kiethly, Deputy Director of Economic Development for the City of Boise

 
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Jay: Welcome! This is Jay Larson CEO of the Idaho Technology Council. Thank you for joining us for our first podcast in our series “Innovation Matters”. As we adopt to changing times where organizations and government agencies are working remotely, [it] is increasingly important for us to stay connected with local tech companies like CradlePoint —who we're gonna hear from today—and share innovative practices and continue to grow computing literacy throughout Idaho. Today we'll be talking about, George Mulhern CEO of Cradlepoint, and Cradlepoint is one of the most fantastic Tech “internet of things” companies in Idaho, and in the United States. George will give us some insights and how Cradlepoint is adopted their business flow during this trying time with COVID-19 and continue to innovate in ways they haven't explored before? And later we'll have Sean Keithley with the City of Boise, but first, thank you George. Thanks for joining us!

George: Yeah, my pleasure

Jay: Yeah this is… I forget I was just mentioning them it's been about eight years ago, where when George's took over as the CEO of Cradlepoint, and it's so interesting. And George came from a wonderful background with Hewlett Packard, then he went over and worked for highway 12 as a partner there, and then became the CEO. And during that time, George, we had a discussion and you talked about the reason they brought you in to be the CEO was so you could scale Cradlepoint. Can you talk a little bit about how you scaled Cradlepoint and the technology, and what's been going on in your world?

George: Sur. Yeah, there's been a lot going on in our world lately, but yeah when I first got to Cradlepoint, the company—well the thesis of the company—has pretty much held; and that was that mobility was going to become increasingly important and that the cellular networks would also play an increasingly important role in that mobility. And so, the first products that Cradlepoint had—as I was getting there—were really more oriented around consumers, prosumers, business travelers, so creating a Wi-Fi hotspot using the USB stick, to connect to the cellular network and then create a Wi-Fi hotspot. And it was a really purely a hardware business, so we're in a very different business now but everything we learned during that period has really, much of it has turned out to be key parts of our competitive advantage today. But it was a difficult business. For example, we were selling through Best Buy and Fry's Electronics and consumer channels, and you know if you didn't support the latest USB modem 25% of your product got returned. Things like that, so the company early in 2010/2011 decided to pivot into the enterprise space and that's where we really saw an opportunity to grow and scale the company. And so today what we offer is really, a cloud delivered cloud orchestrated enterprise-grade Wireless wide-area network that companies are using to connect branch offices, mobile vehicles or IOT devices to the Internet and to their enterprise networks; and we deliver that all. We've moved from being a hardware company, we now deliver that all as a subscription service to our customers and today 80% of the company's revenue is subscription-based, which gives us a little more stability as a company. As we've made that transition to the enterprise, you know, we're deployed in half of the Fortune 500 today. Our top verticals are the retail vertical, finance, insurance, public sector, and healthcare. And as you might imagine right now a couple of those are doing better than the other two with this whole code good 19 experience

Jay: What is, I mean you also have a lot with first responders, those type of things, I mean that's been a big part of your business as well right?

George: Yeah, we have. In fact, that's one of the parts of the business that's still… right now we're really hopping to fulfill the needs and the demands in that first responder market and we're in about 3,000 different first responder agencies in the US today. So, San Francisco police, San Jose police, Boise police, Meridian police and fire, LA fire, New York Fire… so we do quite a bit with first responders. So that's one area of our business right now that we're really trying to make sure we stay on top of and keep up with, you know? The other, frankly, is healthcare — and with, you know, the advantage of a wireless network is you can turn that up in, frankly with our cloud platform, you can turn up in minutes as opposed to pulling cables or wires in and then building out a network. So we are, you know…. For example, right now they're using our product at FedEx Field, where the Redskins play, for their building pop-up medical clinics and drive-through testing facilities. And we're doing that across the country right now! So that's an area of the business that's extremely busy today. As well, we've got pop-up clinics, pop-up drive-through testing, and those types of things. Some of the other public sectors, I’ve mentioned you earlier Jay, where we've got (I think just looking today) we've had in the last week 20 different school districts that are now putting a Cradlepoint router on their school bus, which also has Wi-Fi. Then driving that school bus and parking it, at night, in low-income neighborhoods, and if you're within 100 hundred 50 yards of the bus you get access to that Wi-Fi. So, kids that may not have internet at their home are getting access to Wi-Fi when they're in a work for, yeah, I guess a study from home status at that point

Jay: Wow! That's a great application George! That's amazing, and one other question before we talk about COVID-19. What's been the relationship… about a year and a half ago, there were discussions about Cradlepoint being one of the top companies that, like Verizon, is utilizing to be able to a deploy 5g. We're about to argue in the 5g deployment, what's happening in that space right now?

George: Yeah, we're… we are… we invested early in 5g, and we've had both AT&T and Verizon and the US have announced us as their partner for 5g in the enterprise. We're not… we're not playing in the consumer space, we're Enterprise focused. Our first 5g launch will be at U-Telstra in Australia and that's coming in May, and so will roll… they’re rolling out 5g there across the country and we have, you know? There's a couple of different flavors of 5g. So there's what they call “millimeter wave” and then “sub-six”, which is a little easier to manage, and Telstra is rolling out a “sub-six” 5g network, which T-Mobile will do similar in the US. Verizon's focused on “millimeter wave”, which will have higher performance but also is gonna require greater cell density and that type of thing to get it fully built out.

Jay: Well, that there… so a lot of opportunity. And if I could say this George, I think that Cradlepoint’s been one of the most innovative companies in the mobility space; Certainly, one of the top in the United States. So, congratulations and all that work. Maybe we… Let us move a little bit to how COVID-19 has impacted you.

George: First of all, I probably shouldn't let it pass… What you just said, we're actually the number ONE provider of LTE enterprise networking solutions in the world today, so it's always…

Jay: So, so I have to back up a little bit. So I should have not just limited to the United States; to the world, that is fantastic!

George: I don't want you to sell us short Jay come on.

Jay: Yeah, that's right. Thanks!

George: But so, talking about COVID-19, well first of all, we're all work at work from home right now. We have, you know, multiple sites around the world, but today all of them are going into “work from home” status and we do have folks coming in to. We have a distribution center in Meridian, 5-mile area, and that's where we ship product from. We are considered an essential service, so we're able to, you know, bring some people into that distribution center, or into our lab. We still have some folks using some of the test chambers, but we've got a whole new set of procedures for how we keep that clean, and social distancing, and that type of thing. But you know when you talk about our public-sector business, where we just had an order this week from White House communications working with FEMA and all the first responders we've talked about. So, we have a lot of support to keep the supply coming in those areas, but as I said before ,you know, if you think about our retail vertical and restaurants; like you walk down Fairview Ave or Eagle Road, you know, there's a Cradlepoint in every Panera, every McDonald's, every Starbucks, every chick-fil-a ,every Burger King. So those kinds of places, they're struggling a bit, and that part of our business is definitely slowing down. I will say it's been very interesting moving to a work from home, because in some ways there's been a short-term burst in productivity. Because you don't have all the day-to-day interrupts, and people are working very hard, because as a venture back company, we don't have the kind of deep balance sheet that a Cisco does, we've always tried to run the company close to break-even. So we're pumping every additional dollar we get into innovation and growth, and so for us it's really critical right now that that we keep the business going and we keep all of our employees employed and that's really what we're focused on right now.

Jay: That's interesting George, because, I mean, if you're talking about your ability to look at how you can keep your R&D, and all these types of things going, that's critical for you as an army. Because you're at a cutting-edge company the way you could keep it so how do you do that remotely I guess that's kind of an interesting way

George: Yeah well you know we so as soon as this started to hit we did form we formed a cross-functional task force inside a Cradlepoint we were sometimes it's better to be lucky than good we had made the decision actually a while back that instead of buying desktop computers everybody was going to use a laptop and so that really helped in term in terms of that work-from-home transition but you know we also our IT guys had to go out and they secured a whole bunch more VPN licenses from one of our providers so that all the RMD guys who are working in our cloud platform and in our firmware and software could get access to that from home so we did things like that we expanded our conferencing capability for example what we're doing right now so that we could certainly stay in touch and then you know we're doing I do a weekly “All Hands” call, for updates to the entire organization. Each of our managers is doing a weekly stand-up with their teams so really it's trying to keep the communication flowing, when rolling, you know, all kind of remote, one of the concerns I have, as we go through this, is we're in a honeymoon period. Really, I think in this “work from home”, where it's still new and people are settling in, and I think one of the things I'm really looking towards, is how do we keep finding ways to virtually replace that coffee pot chat that you might have when you're walking down the hall and make sure we're getting a lot of innovation is serendipitous like that right we're just a couple of ideas get bounced around so how do we keep that going and then how do we keep the spirits up when people are somewhat isolated and I give you an example our R&D manager, for his staff it's all virtual, all on Zoom, that he had it was hat day right and so people they had different backgrounds they were putting up they were wearing funky hats they had themes that were doing and just kept it kind of light and you know in time like this that can help as well.

Jay: Oh yeah, that's great I think that that's what's really good is, I think, you're focused on still keeping the whole innovative process that you've developed their whole culture going but you're doing it remotely and I really like the focus you have on continued communication with your team as well as the ability to keep your team employed through Cradlepoint I mean that's there's… we were talking briefly about this and that was, “which was the one that's most impactful the financial crisis or what's happening right now?” Obviously, we hope this is going to be my shorter term, but it's kind of… we're in crazy times aren't we George?

George: Yeah we are, I mean most of the the financial folks that we talked to are projecting a very steep decline in q2 and then hopefully starting to ramp back up in q3 and q4 some are a little more pessimistic than that so you know obviously we've gone through quite a bit of scenario planning in terms of where can we make cuts short of cutting people that are going to help us get through this this thing yeah and we're exploring you know all opportunities and avenues including taking on more debt if we if we can or if we need to or going back to our investors or you know kind of last resort would be cutting programs that would certainly slow some of our progress in the future but you know we we say all the time that it takes every soul and Cradlepoint to get us where we want to go and every job is important and no job is more important than another and so one of my goals is to get through this thing with everybody that's working from home now a place back in the office when we're done with this

Jay: Well you just basically said this is my last question was going to be how do you see the future let's say the next six months to you know 18 months what do you see you've kind of mentioned some of that how do you see the changes and then we'll let you go from there

George: You know I I'm actually I'm really very optimistic right now because from from a Cradlepoint stamp but one of the things that's happening is the operators the carriers are adding capacity like crazy right now to their networks to their cellular networks when we get through this and not everybody's working from home again there's gonna be a lot of capacity they're gonna want to fill that I think is gonna mean more aggressive better priced data plans for people to really start to utilize cellular in their businesses even more I think for us this kind of crisis has proven the value of a network that you're able to turn up in minutes instead of weeks which is what we do and and frankly we're getting introduced to a whole new set of customers as well as we go through this and so I think as we come out the other end of this as long as we can kind of keep that that innovation pipeline going and keep the team we have intact we're gonna see some really strong growth as we get into 5g that will be a game-changer over the next two to three years but even before that I think LTE in the next 18 months is really gonna accelerate as well

Jay: Fantastic! George thank you so much we'll look forward to having you on about six months from now back on innovation matters and get another update and thanks for all you're doing also helping with school local districts and people be able to work who don't have internet at home and those type of things so thanks for all the work you're doing there - all right thanks Jane talk to you later all right thanks George have a good day thanks so much and also now we'll go after hearing from George Walker and CEO of cradle point we now have the opportunity to have on in innovation matters Shawn Keithley who is the director of economic development for the City of Boise Sean welcome

Sean: Jay, thank you for having me.

Jay: Yeah, I'm glad you can join us Sean. We know that there's been a lot of things happen in your world, right? I mean over the last two weeks, they really expand in the city and every the demands with your what you've been doing what Mayor McLeane's been doing is probably been phenomenal. Well, let's talk about with what's going on right now yesterday we had the big announcement it took place where governor little came out and basically said we all have to become, you know, it's work from our own shelters and everything we're doing here. How is that? What's happened within the City of Boise since that announcement yesterday?

Sean: Well Jay we're we're doing our best to stay agile and make sure that we are we are adapting to every day because every dayis proven to be different than the last our most important priority certainly on maintaining the health and safety and welfare of the community the mayor's emergency order on Tuesday was part of that and similarly we we applaud and welcomes the governor's order yesterday as well the two orders are similar in their in their intent applications a little bit different but certainly the two of those orders are intended really just to help ensure that we get through this in a hopefully a and expedited and most importantly a safe and healthy way for for everybody here in Boise and and in Idaho so that's the yeah that's the critical focus we have on on City business right now just making sure that we keep our community safe keep our folks the city healthy like the rest of the community and like I say just try to stick together and get through this

Jay: You know I think that Sean, Mayer McLean's done a wonderful job showing some great leadership and reaching out to business leaders trying to make sure everybody's informed and making decisions; to be able to you know shut down restaurants and other type of public gathering spaces. What do you think the biggest challenges that’re going to take place for the mayor and city of Boise going forward over the next month or so?

Sean: Well, I think, like everyone I mean, and as George alluded to, you know, part of the challenge is just getting used to this this temporary change in how we do business, you know? Working remotely in a way that sort of happened all of a sudden for everybody. I don't think anybody could say we were totally prepared for this, although I was very impressed to hear how kind of seamlessly George described things happening at Cradlepoint. I wish I could have said the same for myself, but we're doing our best here and firmly planted here in my kitchen bar and set up, my much to my wife's disdain, my office here temporarily during the day. So, you know, we all have our own challenges.

Jay: Yeah, your wife is in the other room, right? Everything's great. Interesting thing, yeah, it's like how do you cover everything? This is… this is great because both you and George are on the Idaho Technology Council’s Hall of Fame, I'm sorry is that the Board of Trustees, what I think is so interesting is that you can see the correlation that takes place between the industry and the cities and local municipalities to be able to make good things happen. So think about this, if you can, for us because I know you have a major focus within, you know, industry, and the economy ,and the Boise area, what do you think we can do for it to help with this?

Sean: Well, that's a great question a great point Jay, and I'd be remiss not to mention that not all of us are lucky enough to be able to just go home and work remotely. You know we have a whole, service industry out there for example, that's at a standstill. There are other sectors of the economy that are in the same place small businesses especially going to be struggling during these next few weeks and hopefully not too much longer than that, but we don't know so that's, you know, that's a big part of our focus in the office of economic development; making sure that we address the needs of the whole community. But certainly, here small business is a focus. So, one of the things that the mayor and I highlighted in our call last week to the business community, was some of our work that we're doing with our partners, like trailhead for example and the venture college, and they are working hard to quickly stand up resources just like you have here to ensure that the networks that we have put in place, you know, are in our business community, in our tech community, are focused on right now addressing the needs in the community that can help those. Especially help those who are in need right now the most; that Trailhead and BSU Venture College collaboration I mentioned, that the “survive to thrive” series focuses on helping entrepreneurs and startups with the basics of how to get through a crisis like this and how to access critical funding speaking of critical funding. You know, I think just in the past week, three major programs came through at the federal level. Much to them we owe a lot, a lot of thanks to our partners here for helping to push that forward and make that happen folks. Everyone from the business community to the chamber to our Senators’ offices that helped advocate to make this legislation happen, you know, we were part of that too, but a lot of credit goes of course to the business community and our and our other partners. So, those are just a few of the things that we're doing that we see is worth our time and effort: to help support the business community and make sure that they know that we're here as a resource as a connector. You know, a big part of our role in a normal time when we're not affected by a pandemic like this, is to be a connector of resources and needs. That's especially important right now. That's something that I'd like to just make sure we highlight again. The city is here to leverage every bit of the of our network, that we can to make sure that we connect resources and make sure these recovery-oriented actions happen.

Jay: Well, and your point that's made is that the service industry— food industry—let's go out and support those by, you know, going through the drive-thru or whatever you can, because that's going to be a big way to keep them going. I really like the “survive to thrive” type thing, because the places that will be really impact are those who are trying to start new-new industry and the new ideas, new companies. And so we've got to help them. So, thanks for all the work that you've been doing with the City of Boise on Trailhead, obviously the Venture College of Boise State, and that that type of work. It is vital for us to be able to help these new companies, because after all, these are going to be the companies that 10-15 years from now, are going to be the ones…. they're going to be the Cradlepoints of the world, like we just talked to George, which was founded in about 2006. So, anything else you have that we could focus on at all Sean in parting?

Sean: Um, you know, I guess I would just emphasize that, George mentioned this too, but times like this create, in a strange way you know, opportunities for resilience through your innovation; and you know this is… it's just an opportunity for to see where we can put some of these resources to work to address some of the critical unique issues we're facing right now. And the thing with the unique entrepreneur community and the strong tech community we have here, you already seen it happen, but it won't be long before I think we have some pretty impressive action taking place that will help to rebuild and help us move toward recovery from this. This what I've heard called as an economic hurricane.

Jaay: You were exactly right, economic hurricane’s a good way to put it. That's where we'll put a bookmark on this and have you back again Sean, as we talk about what's happening, and we certainly want you to know how much we appreciate you and Mayor McLean and the work that's taking place and the climate that is connecting here on the state and throughout the City of Boise. So, thank you so much for all your work.

Sean: Thank you. Thank you very much Jay, appreciate your kind words and your support as always and thank you for doing this.

Jay: Absolutely! Thanks Sean. So, we hope people join us next week when we are here again. Tech issues are always going to be the biggest thing we talk about since Idaho is the fastest growing software industries, 2% of the state's GDP, and we'll continue to do that and we hope you join us next week when we actually talk to Paris coal CEO of Truckstop.com, and also chair of the Idaho Technology Council, and we also are hopeful to have Senator Jim Risch join us as well and this is Jay Larson with the Idaho Technology Council. Keeping you connected with industry and government, because in Idaho innovation matters. Thank you all and be safe out there.