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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and plant the seeds

  • 6 October 2021

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By Moh Mukadam, MBA Alumnus

 

One evening, in the midst of the first lockdown, my neighbour was robbed. The family was clearly traumatised by the event and on speaking to him, I felt helpless that I was completely ignorant of the robbery taking place. When I discussed the incident with him, I was told that the robbers stole his wife’s car out of their garage with all the stolen goods.

At that point, I realised that if I had a willing, mutually beneficial relationship with my neighbour to monitor events like garage doors opening at an unusual time of the night, we could assist each other.

That’s where my entrepreneurial journey began.

I have spent a large part of my career in the corporate world working as a Chief Information Officer and other executive positions. COVID has decimated many businesses including my consulting business. Pursuing this project meant going back to basics.

I started with a basic building kit and began to learn about coding microchips. With my son as my mentor, I started to develop simple circuits and coding microprocessors. Many hours were spent blowing up microchips.

This might sound strange to you but when I did my degree in Computer Science (when the earth was still cooling) we used punch card and had a hardcopy manual which you mastered to write your program (you might need to look at Wikipedia to know what a punch card is). Imagine my astonishment when I discovered that today there are various ways and platforms of coding, and that the internet has all the answers to debugging your code. The internet becomes your manual and someone, somewhere out there, has a solution or is willing to help you solve a bug.

It was by no coincidence that I was reading Adam Grant’s book, Think Again, which encourages rethinking and also the ability to embrace failure as a way to learn. I understood what ‘fail fast and pivot’ meant when the developers hit a brick wall with their first coding platform, and they decided to redevelop the solution on another platform. I was awestruck that something like this could happen and the team nonchalantly moved to another way of achieving the results. Two weeks were lost but it was a valuable two weeks of searching and looking for the right solution for our problem.

I knew of the term IoT (Internet of Things) but this experience gave new meaning to it.

Three close friends bought into the idea and came on board because they believed in the purpose of the product. Our startup, IOT Concepts, was born in the middle of the COVID pandemic. By now, I reached the point of moving from searching for a corporate job with a secured salary to embracing the exciting world of entrepreneurship with lots of uncertainty and excitement. My focus for IOT Concepts was to become a IoT consultancy and to prove our capability, we developed our own product for the consumer market.

The team members were much younger than me and I found myself being mentored in all aspect of technology in ways that I was not exposed to before. The internet became my best resource and I had to do lots of self-learning occasionally steered by the young team members.

Forward by about 6 months and I am proud to say that IOT Concepts launched our first inhouse developed IOT product, DIDEYE™, to the consumer market.

DIDEYE™ is the ultimate home safety enhancement incorporating DIDEYE™ custom built sensor, platform and Mobile App, designed to give the consumer absolute Peace of Mind that the gateway to their home is closed. It’s many uses could include –

  • Giving Owners of Short-term rental property, Seasonal Airbnb or holiday homes the ability to make sure the property is locked up when they leave
  • Giving those blessed with elderly parents who might be becoming forgetful, the ability to help keep them safe by checking their gateways are closed
  • Giving professionals who may not be 100% focussed on checking their gateway is closed when they leave a backup .

We developed this solution from the scratch and prototyped it in less than 6 months together with building a portable platform allowing for rapid testing and prototyping of new projects for other IoT applications.

With DIDEYE™ we delivered on our goal of showing that IOT Concepts is not only about understanding the theory of the complete IoT ecosystem but are also capable of developing our own IoT solution.

McKinsey[1], have stated that “…some of the most exciting IoT innovations have occurred within the business sector, where the combination of sensor data and sophisticated analytical algorithms has allowed companies to streamline business processes, increase productivity, and develop leading-edge products”. IOT initiatives have a positive impact on the bottom line of a company.

I have crossed the threshold into the exciting world of entrepreneurship with IOT Concepts by putting together a dream team with skillsets such as mechatronic engineering, microprocessor embedded coders, certified cloud architects and App developers to help companies fully take advantage of the IOT opportunity. Having completed my MBA at the University of Stellenbosch Business School gave me confidence that I am equipped to take on this task as the leader of our new venture.

How the market responds is uncertain, yet exciting. Regardless of the outcome, the experience in multiple disciplines of business is invaluable to us. I am keen to see the fruits sprout from the seeds we are planting and the positive impact we can make to different businesses.

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/internet-of-things/our-insights/the-internet-of-things-how-to-capture-the-value-of-iot

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