What to Expect When You're Connecting

The Power of Alternative Solutions Brainstorming (Motivo)

September 21, 2023 Soracom Marketing Season 2 Episode 3
The Power of Alternative Solutions Brainstorming (Motivo)
What to Expect When You're Connecting
More Info
What to Expect When You're Connecting
The Power of Alternative Solutions Brainstorming (Motivo)
Sep 21, 2023 Season 2 Episode 3
Soracom Marketing

Send us a Text Message.

We're talking about the idea that there are alternative ways of arriving to a solution, especially in product development involving new technologies and creative engineering.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

We're talking about the idea that there are alternative ways of arriving to a solution, especially in product development involving new technologies and creative engineering.

/ Welcome to what to expect when you're connecting a podcast for IOT professionals and the IOT curious. Who find themselves responsible for growing executing or educating others about the challenges with connecting products and services to the internet. you'll learn from industry experts who understand those challenges deeply. And what they've done to overcome them now for your host, Ryan Carlson.

[00:00:27] Ryan: I want to welcome two guests to today's conversation. It's Michael and Stephan from Motivo. And we're talking today about the idea that there are alternative ways of arriving to a solution, especially technical solutions. I had a chemistry teacher back in high school said there was more than one way to get to Hugo, which was a Town in rural Minnesota, and he'd always put up a map on the wall and he'd say you could take the I 95 or here you could take the 694 you could write and the whole idea that answers don't have one specific solution.

[00:01:05] Ryan: And I felt strongly that in the world of connectivity or

[00:01:08] Ryan: the professional world in general, we can't tell people what to do. We can only share our relevant life experience. And I can't think of 2 people that I would rather have on the show talking about alternative solutions than 2 people who have some very interesting backgrounds and I think we could lose hours hearing your stories.

[00:01:28] Ryan: So Stephan, you've been a mechanic, you've worked on high performance automotives for a long time. And now you are an engineer at Motivo working on cutting edge. R&D

[00:01:39] Ryan: I'd love to actually unpack a little bit of that through our conversation and Michael, your story of starting as a restaurantier and our restaurant engineer, tell me how that started.

[00:01:54] Ryan: And racing cars prepared you for a role as a. Product owner, and now an operations manager for a company that does. Cutting edge R and D,on on products that oftentimes involves connectivity.

[00:02:07] Michael: Yeah. oh,

[00:02:08] Michael: go ahead, Stephan. 

[00:02:09] Stephan: I was just gonna say thank you very much for the kind intro and for having us here on your podcast. And yeah, I think I'll let Michael take the way and I'll jump in after him.

[00:02:17] Michael: Yeah, perfect. thanks as well, Ryan. We appreciate being here. And, Motivo is a company made up of diverse people with diverse backgrounds because we solve diverse problems. And talking through those examples is great. me personally, like Ryan mentioned is actually come from a management world of a fine dining restaurant throughout the Napa Valley and his, reference to restaurant engineer.

[00:02:38] Michael: I got a knack for opening new restaurants. Where you're really thinking about it from a systems engineer, almost level of how do the guests come in? How is the food displayed? Where do the forks and knives go to keep the servers from taking as many steps throughout the night? So they're more efficient, can take more tables.

[00:02:54] Michael: How do you lay out the menu to make sure that somebody understands the flow of the meal? All these little nuances that come together as a total system to a guest's entire experience at a restaurant. I was really passionate about. Also in the middle of doing restaurants for about 10 to 12 years, also loving cars.

[00:03:12] Michael: And I went to school to become a race car mechanic. And so understanding a race car from the exact same element, you have the wheels, the tires, the suspension, the engine, the arrow, all that has to come together as a total product that has to function at the end of the day. And each piece can pick up the other one.

[00:03:27] Michael: If anyone's lagging, as long as it's all working as a system. I really loved all of that. And so then coming to a place like Motivo, where that's really what we focus on is that system. I'm using my experience from all those situations to have the same mentality. I came to Motivo as a project engineer, really focusing on the projects, and then moved up to a product manager, focusing more on the actual product and the client engagement.

[00:03:51] Michael: And then while doing that, went and got my MBA for business and start focusing more on the business side, but still treating the company the same way, like a total system that all has to come together. So I joke that on any given day, I use more of my restaurant experience at an engineering firm than anything else, because the pace we work at Motivo, it's more like a busy Friday night in a restaurant than it is like a casual, engineering project that you have plenty of time to work on.

[00:04:17] Ryan: I always think about the front of house and back of house in the restaurant world. And then it's, there's all of these juxtapositions of front end development and back end development and all of these, this dance that goes between the very visible, front end experience and that back end where you're doing some heavy lifts that no one will ever see.

[00:04:41] Ryan: All you want to know is, Yeah, did the food come out front of house like it was supposed to be made? of these different. systems, are put in place to create efficiencies management styles. There's entire supply chains that are built around.

[00:04:55] Michael: Silence.

[00:05:04] Ryan: mechanics.

[00:05:05] Ryan: Are you working on. Like crazy, like moving vehicle engineering problems

[00:05:13] Ryan: right now, I would say less so automotive front, Motivo definitely does a decent amount of that. And we have in the past doing 3D printed suspension, that kind of things. but right now, personally, I'm more focused on some aerospace projects right So helping, do both design work,building up a testing roadmap and then actually going through and doing, the testing, doing the data processing.I don't know, through, through all the experience that gained through you know, I, went through the trades program in Germany. That's where I'm originally from. I was very lucky there. It's a very. holistic approach. you don't learn how to R and R apart, just repair and replace you.

[00:05:51] Stephan: you learn how to do a holistic diagnosis and understand the vehicle so that you're not just throwing parts at it. And so. Coming in with that mindset then into engineering, trying to get that full system level as well, has been so important and I enjoy being a part of engineering, both in a like full vehicle system, understanding what's happening in the vehicle, but also in the process of engineering, right?

[00:06:18] Stephan: It's not just You know, a lot of people think engineering is designing a part and that it's done, but there's a whole lot more to that as you know,

[00:06:26] Introduction to the Alternative solutions Brainstroming at Motivo

[00:06:26] Ryan: I'd like you guys to walk me through what you at Motivo call the alternative solutions brainstorming, when you have that discussion, who's involved. And how are you leveraging that cross functional team to arrive at an outcome? do you know what outcome you want up front?

[00:06:45] Ryan: Or is it fairly open ended? I'll stop there and hand it over to you to describe this. I think it's pretty cool.

[00:06:51] Michael: Yeah, so traditionally, when a project comes to Motivo we do what's called an alternative solutions brainstorm. We do try to do these at the beginning of projects, but also throughout the project to make sure we don't hit any sticking points that would slow us down.

[00:07:04] Michael: And the idea is to bring in what we call a brain trust. a mix of experienced engineers, a mix of, you know, if it's a mechanical problem, we don't just want mechanical engineers. We want our electrical engineers, our software engineers in there. Also, we're also bringing in some of our more junior engineers who have fresh ideas.

[00:07:21] Michael: Maybe just came out of college and new learned a new process that we didn't even know about. we go into a project, especially as engineers, we think we know how to solve the problem, but Motivo, we specifically go look for projects where nobody knows how to solve the problem.

[00:07:35] Michael: And it's coming up with creative solutions is everything. And so to keep the team from narrowing on, this is the solution. We want to throw all the alternative solutions out there. We get on a bunch of whiteboards for a couple hours and it's just, nothing's off limits. If we could solve it, whether it was rational or not, we want to put it up there.

[00:07:54] Michael: Because an irrational idea may be actually just two steps removed from a rational idea. You just couldn't get yourself there. we've done it on, many clients. We've solved a lot of problems. Sometimes none of the solutions get used and the original solution was the right one. But more often than not, the final solution is a nuance between the original path and what this alternative path is.

[00:08:14] Michael: So I'd imagine, Stephan, you are bringing into the room. You've worked on combustion vehicles, high performance vehicles, the electric vehicle market, and then you're bringing that to aerospace. So how often do you find that another industry has already solved a problem and you just have to

[00:08:31] Ryan: apply it in a newway?

[00:08:32] Stephan: all the time. so so that's, I think one of, one of the strong suits here is that we have people from all industries and that as a company, we work on a lot of we uh, as we said, we, we are working currently on a couple of big aerospace projects, but at the same time. Just one door over. We've got agriculture and we've got industrial logistics.

[00:08:54] Stephan: We've got a little bit of everything. And the amount of overlap is very interesting to consider because there's a lot of lessons learned that may have been learned in a certain industry that you just have to have been and seen to to make some serious waves in another industry.

[00:09:09] Ryan: So, when you have these discussions, our audience is primarily focused on connected products. And so talk to me about. Maybe some examples of during when you're whiteboarding things out. How crazy do you get on? That connectivity piece in particular, where do you draw your inspiration and where do you see it hitting a wall or anything along those lines?

[00:09:33] Michael: No, for sure. a great example that actually falls in line with connectivity and shows how off the wall we get is we once had a client without, disclosing too much, but they were in the agricultural field and they had many fields spread across their property and they wanted to be able to track different parameters, moisture, temperature and all these other elements.

[00:09:52] Michael: And they had a system in place that was already, a module that could do most of this. but this farmer was feeling the struggle of he had to send his workers out five, six workers at a time to go collect this data from all over the place. He's like, there's got to be a way for me to be able to do this from my barn, from my hub, right?

[00:10:10] Michael: And so he came to us with help me solve this problem. And of course, we all went to drones, like everyone goes to drones with things like this, right? But he was still like, yeah, but I have a Big acreage. I want to be able to go out there, collect the right data. How do we get it back? And so the sticking point here was really like, how do we connect this all together?

[00:10:30] Michael: the irony of the situation was one of the product managers in this alternative solutions brainstorm. Was actually a beekeeper in Idaho. And now you see where I'm going, right? So you have your hub, you have your home base. That's more centralized. And when the time is right, you're sending out your drones as almost a hive network.

[00:10:49] Michael: And so now they're not just communicating to the main hub. They're able to communicate to each other. And so if one is three miles out, it doesn't have to communicate back three miles. It only has to communicate back two miles to the next one, and then a mile to the next one. And now your tech, your communication hops are much smaller, which makes the network much more powerful.

[00:11:09] Michael: And in all honesty, that's not something we would have necessarily got to naturally without having somebody be like, Wait, how do bees figure this out? And we went down that path and that's the kind of crazy ideas we come up with where it becomes a rational solution.

[00:11:23] Ryan: What's crazy is that's how science fiction storylines are written, right? They don't have to worry about thinking about today's constraints, but how can you draw inspiration without having to truly figure out how to get there? But what does that end result

[00:11:41] Ryan: look Okay.

[00:11:43] Stephan: And that's big part of our, uh, alternate solutions. Brainstorm is just thinking about constraints because oftentimes you have a client coming in. They. They have specific requirements that they're talking about. And then we, as a part of ASB sometimes add in or remove, those restrictions. What if we had to do it in half the time, or what if we had twice as much money, or what if we had to build 10, 000 of these instead of 10 and those those little changes can really also help us find the. I don't know. In, in Brainstorm, you often have, right, uh, local, uh, maxima and minima, but in the, end, what you're trying to find is the themaxima and minima, the the best idea, not just, oh, everyone kind of latches on the same thing, and you kind of start revolving around the same ideas, and so, you know, The kind of changing of those requirements and constraints make it make a huge difference.

[00:12:37] Stephan: And it really is like science fiction. sometimes sometimes it's just craziness that gets gets thrown out. But if we can distill it down into an idea that we can actually build, that's what it's all about.

[00:12:49] Ryan: It does sound a lot like velociraptors checking the weak points in the fences as well. Right? You're like, you don't know what you're looking for, but you're still. Looking for a pressure test on the idea and I like that you're changing the variables on what if we needed to do this in half the time, thinking about budget constraints.

[00:13:12] Ryan: Are there any. Eureka moments knowing that there's not really ever a Eureka moment. They're all like, slow burns. there's accumulated experience that allows you to just put those final pieces together. Has there been any radical changes or pivots as a result of one of those sessions where. You think that you got a 10 X, end result out of

[00:13:33] Ryan: there. 

[00:13:34] Stephan: I think there's one that I can think of. So with working with a lot of, we have a broad customer base or client base. both startups and and develop companies and so a lot of the startups, we do some show vehicles and something that both works like and looks like problem with looks like is usually that takes a long time, especially if you don't have right the right molds to build the final piece. Generally, you do all that tooling at a really high cost later on when you're starting to go into production. we had a certain demonstrator vehicle. Hello. That was about, I would say, two foot by four foot footprint and maybe six foot tall, um, that went around and was able to charge your vehicle. and we had to make that thing look and feel like a finished plastic product with, without all the tooling. So we were, We got in quite a few quotes, with people that we'd worked with before to do machining of large pieces of foam or or have a shell made for a, show car. But everything was too long lead time for what our our client needed.

[00:14:37] Stephan: They were trying to hit a show was also too expensive We, we knew that it was too expensive for for what we were getting. And so in the end, we were like, Hmm, we we have this cabinetry CNC machine sitting in the corner. It can do flat pieces of material, but big pieces of material. And so we cut that whole thing up into two inch thick, strips and glued the thing up, with some, polyurethane foam.

[00:15:03] Stephan: And we were able to build the full piece in house on a piece of equipment that was not meant for that at all. And we got a show vehicle out of it that really had the show characteristics. We were able to hit the timeline and we were able to do it much cheaper than any other way. And with a machine that nobody had thought about using those those four.

[00:15:22] Stephan: So that was, that was a big one. I think that, that really, that really made that product project a success.

[00:15:29] Ryan: It sounds like you have to have the right level of curiosity and creativity amongst the team in order to Achieve solutions similar to that. uh, it's that story of, why is it that grandma's recipe has you cut the roast into 2 separate pieces and you ask everyone like, I don't know.

[00:15:49] Ryan: I don't know. And you finally hear the person goes. Oh, it's because she didn't own a Dutch oven that was big enough to put the 2 smaller ones. So that's why the recipe calls for cutting and a half had nothing to do. With the end result. So it was just an artificial constraint, but having the ability to work your way out of that scenario,

[00:16:12] Ryan: the team dynamic that you look for, in a, in an organization like Motivo, where you can, even pull off things like these alternative solution brainstorms.

[00:16:22] Two critical components for getting engineering team success

[00:16:22] Michael: Yeah, I think the two critical components that are what you're speaking to right now that we really embrace at Motivo is creativity and we make it a safe space. And I know that sounds like a cliche term nowadays, but what we're going for there is we want someone to be willing to think outside the box.

[00:16:39] Michael: We want people to have different diverse backgrounds and bring in crazy ideas. But the only way that works is if you feel like your ideas are going to be listened to and then we as a group are willing to try them, right? And so like the example that Stephan was talking to, that only worked because we were all willing to say, if this doesn't work, that's okay and we'll try something else.

[00:17:02] Michael: So we never feel that pressure with MOTM of we have to have the right solution the first time. Because. In engineering, it's never going to be the right solution. The first time we just know that. And so we're almost pushing for that creativity, but we want our engineers to feel safe in that creativity, knowing that, hey, if you come up with a crazy idea, and it doesn't work out.

[00:17:21] Michael: That's okay. We have a support system. We're paying attention to it. We can pivot from it. And a lot of times an ASB will happen and we'll come up with a crazy idea and we'll try it and the output is we need to have another ASB and that's all right, that's part of our product development roadmap, so it's really about pushing that creativity, but then having that safety net there to where our engineers, our team feel good about going down that creative path.

[00:17:46] Stephan: Yeah.

[00:17:46] Ryan: Stephan, talk to me about the environment. that facilitates perhaps this type of dialogue and collaboration. What is it like to be boots on the ground? 

[00:17:57] Stephan: Yeah, so it is, it is a lot of our mentality, fail often, fail fast, because that's how you learn things, right? it's really inspiring the people that we have here, both on like a diversity aspect as well as technically. we really have top people here, and so everyone is permanently learning from each other.

[00:18:17] Stephan: I. I don't think we, we really have any ego issues here. Everyone knows, everyone makes mistakes and the cool thing about it is, as well as, and I I try and make a daily habit out of this, is just walk around the shop and bother people and ask, hey, how's this project coming along? What, what what problem are you currently struggling with?

[00:18:37] Stephan: And those kinds of things, I always learn a lot from it. And just talking through the problem right half the time can solve it because just hearing yourself explain it to somebody else often leads to a eureka moment. Um, so that's a lot of fun and the cool balance here as well. So our facility is split up.

[00:18:56] Stephan: So we have the fish tank, which is this glass box where all the engineers sit and right next to it is the shop floor. So you can, from your desk, see what is being built, how things are coming along. And if you have a question, you walk out the door and you ask a fabricator. you you ask one of the other engineers who's currently doing testing.

[00:19:18] Stephan: And that allows us to to just speed everything up tenfold because everyone always has a finger on the pulse. Because you're always there in the middle of it.

[00:19:30] Ryan: That's awesome. That's the reminds me of those, wood fired pizza, locations where it's all being cooked right in the middle or Tepenyaki where, they're. Chopping up all the stuff in front of you. Like, oh, that's how it's made. I think that's pretty cool that you guys can sit and observe and watch these projects kind of going through.

[00:19:47] Ryan: So given this type of setup, how many projects at any given time do you have? Perhaps in motion, given that there's, physical constraints on, some of the types of projects you might take on.

[00:19:58] How the challenge of context switching keeps Motivo teams constantly learning

[00:19:58] Michael: Yeah, at any given time, Motivo's probably got about 16 to 20 projects going on, and those are at different levels, from full size automotive builds all the way down to just a high level systems architecture or software development anywhere along that spectrum. but yeah, in general, that's about the number we're going.

[00:20:16] Michael: With which, when it comes down to it, we're still a smaller company, just under 75 people, but 90 percent of that is raw engineering. so that spread is across all those teams. All our engineers are usually working on a couple of different projects at once. we like the challenge of the context switching.

[00:20:33] Michael: It gets like Stephan was talking about. Sometimes just switching your mindset will help you solve 1 project. We're working on another. but, yeah, that's the pace we move out in that environment.

[00:20:43] How Motivo Uses Retrospectives to maintain a continous improvement mindset

[00:20:43] Ryan: Talk to me about retrospectives and the role that plays in a continuous improvement or Kaizen mentality at Motivo.

[00:20:51] Stephan:  So lessons learned are something that, that we do after every project. We... We do a weekly meeting where the whole company comes together for half an hour. And usually when we, wrap up a project, we present to everyone where we messed up. but also most importantly, what we learned from it. Right.

[00:21:09] Stephan: I think that that humility there again, also allows us to keep those egos down because everyone's always talking about, yeah. We messed up, but this is how we overcame it. This is what we learned from it. And this is what we're going to do different next time. and We, often see that as well. weoften do lessons learned with clients as well.

[00:21:24] Stephan: Like we'll we'll see, okay. what did we see that the client was learning from? During our process as well. That's that's a big part of what we do as well as is guide our clients through product development because for a lot of them, it's the first time. So if they can learn some important lessons from it, and we can also, teach them some of the things that we've learned, over the years. it always makes it better. And the next time we work together, it goes smoother. and every project is always better than the last. .

[00:21:53] Ryan: What are some of the takeaways or some themes that you found for connected or IOT based projects? You know, people don't buy IOT. It just happens to be off an element of an overall solution, whether it's in the front of the house or the back of the house. Doesn't really matter. talk to me about some of the lessons learned that you found.

[00:22:13] Ryan: Where do you see continuous challenges and where have you found aha moments or successes that carry forward into your practices? 

[00:22:21] Michael:

[00:22:21] The importance of having teams of different disciplines work together

[00:22:21] Michael: Probably one of the biggest lessons learned we've taken, probably in the past five years. Is, really doing early integrations between mechanical, electrical, and then firmware and software development. I think those fields have in the past tended to be very disconnected, you'd basically do your silo, and then you hand up, or you throw it over the wall, and that's how that happens.

[00:22:41] Michael: And we had a couple of projects in a row where that kind of bit us where we came to the very end and the firmware isn't working how the mechanical side expected and, we did a good introspective on all those projects and, the funny thing is it was a theme we were taking on quite a few ag tech, agricultural technology projects, which is a very new field, five years ago, but what you were seeing is, You know,It was easy to develop your firmware from your desk, but mechanical had to be out in the field.

[00:23:10] Michael: Electrical had to be out in the field. So the firmware and software team not understanding the constraints of a hot and dusty environment meant that they weren't writing their code. Like obviously code is not impacted by it, but how they command the different actuators and for which sequence the actuators go to protect from dust was something that we hadn't really thought about.

[00:23:33] Michael: And so a big ha moment for us was when we're out in that kind of environment or a warehouse environment, we're going to send our mechanical team on our electrical team. We're going to send our software firmware team out there also, because they're then getting the visual of what their code is going to roll out to.

[00:23:52] Michael: So they can think about that world initializing their code from the very beginning. That was one of the biggest transformative transfer, the biggest moves we made in how we kicked off projects, especially anything that had software involved.

[00:24:07] Ryan: I had a similar experience where it was working with some contractors on some, early wifi technology. And we were building products, connected products for the car wash industry and replacing old cables and trying to add wireless and everything worked great on the bench 

[00:24:25] Ryan: And then the pilot testing kept running into problems, and it's because no 1 was washing a car while they were trying to use the equipment because the moisture in the air absorbs the radio frequencies. And had we known this, we would have gone to 900 megahertz or gone to a different spectrum, but, it's those little things or QA not being involved in early app or website development where they might ask questions around accessibility or ask questions around repeatability and testing and scripting and like little investments up front pays large dividends at the end.

[00:25:02] Overcoming data collection challenges

[00:25:02] Ryan: Do you have any examples of where getting the data is it getting easier? Is it still an active challenge? talk to me a little bit about that side of the problem solving equation. Silence.

[00:25:16] Michael: Yeah, data tends, of course, data is important to everybody, right? It's almost a currency at this stage, of different industries. And so a lot of our clients are coming to us. Trying to figure out how to get data on certain elements. we saw a big wave in the autonomy industry, before all the smaller companies consolidated.

[00:25:34] Michael: and what was interesting is in the autonomy industry, what you were seeing is, everyone trying to do it as fast and cheaply as possible because that's how you do startups, but it was the realization too, of like in autonomy, you actually need two different vehicles. When you're starting out, you need one.

[00:25:51] Michael: That's a demonstrator that's doing the things. But then you also need one that's collecting the data and it was the realization that those don't actually have to be the same vehicles. Now they can have different purposes and different intention and be outfitted differently where they come together outside.

[00:26:07] Michael: And so focusing on capturing the raw data a lot of the times for our clients is really important.

[00:26:13] Ryan: Does that mean Stephan that you're building 2 versions of a tractor? 1 of them where you can easily get at all of the panels and the sensors you might have on a production vehicle? 

[00:26:22] Stephan: Oh yeah, for sure. so doing that, that show versus testing and communicating that to our clients and showing the value in that too, right? a lot of people think, Hey, I,need this one thing that I can just bring to shows and do all my testing on, but, that'll. end up with one really expensive thing that you can only have in one place at a time.

[00:26:41] Stephan: And so then when you're at a show, you're not gathering data. When you're gathering data, you're not showing it to the public. it's a little bit like the front end and back end of the kitchen, again. in a restaurant, um, kind of splitting up and communicating, hey, what really are your needs?

[00:26:56] Stephan: Can we separate this out? And then you have more of everything that you need. so that, that is huge. And we do definitely build, splits of works like and looks like, and usually the looks like has a, still. Most of the features, but it is cut down a little bit, so they have the important things to show off for investors and for shows.

[00:27:18] Stephan: But then for when it gets down to development, you're often collecting way more data than the end product will collect. so being able to implement all the sensors and the metrics into the testing mule, is huge and allows us to develop much faster.

[00:27:34] Pre-planning and Mid-Course Corrections

[00:27:34] Ryan: So, if we were writing a chapter in the book of what to expect when you're connecting and we're thinking through the things you should be doing in advance and the things you're going to want to do before you go to market. There's a lot of that pre planning and then there's the mid course correction from your experience.

[00:27:56] Ryan: I'm hearing bringing in lots of. Different ideas and not assuming you have the answer up front would be the first step in the process. Assume you have the outcome you want, but don't assume you have the solution.

[00:28:11] Michael: 100 percent and that goes back to how you started the whole conversation, right? Is there's a final destination, but almost an infinite number of paths. And as long as you're aligned to what the final destination is, you get really creative with those paths are to try to get there in different ways.

[00:28:27] Ryan: So if a restaurant, the solution is people are hungry and you want them to leave full, you might have a, all you can eat buffet. But if it's, I want a place to hold a nice, quiet business meeting or take someone on a date, that, end experience is a different type of outcome, right? What are some examples of how that's going to color. the type of solution that I'm going to want to looking to build, when you, when we're talking about, Cutting edge technology.

[00:28:57] Stephan: some of it, it's very, very industry specific. So we always say we're we're technology agnostic. We can work with whatever our clients want to work with. However, we do also often caution clients to be a little bit careful of the technology that they're, that they're, that they don't settle in too early on the technology that they want to use before they've explored all the options.

[00:29:17] Ryan: I was, I was going to say, that sounds likeyou're helping those that are open to it. It's. almost a vendor vetting selection. Do you find that you're an intermediary between the customer and the vendors that ultimately end up supporting them? Talk to me through that process.

[00:29:35] Ryan: I think it's one of the most fascinating discussions that is under discussed so often is 

[00:29:42] An example of Alternative Solutions Brainstorming for a Driving Simulator

[00:29:42] Ryan: what are you looking for as someone who isn't as emotionally invested as the actual company that's building the product. Okay.

[00:29:51] Michael: Yeah, I think,that's a great way to describe it. We're definitely thinking long term with our clients on not just like what's your more traditional vendor engagement, but also what types of vendors do you need to engage with down your product line? a good example we have at Motivo, we do a driving simulator for a company that we've had, we've worked with for many years and had many iterations on it.

[00:30:13] Michael: However, the uniqueness of this driving simulator is actually meant for the medical and rehabilitation field. And so if somebody had an injury and they're going through physical therapy and they need the sign off that you're okay to handle a car again, this company actually provides it to medical facilities.

[00:30:30] Michael: And so the idea there is it goes through a simulation, just like you would expect, like a race car simulation, but it's more focused on road driving. But the touch and feel of the controls needed to be accurate to what an actual car is, so it can't be a toy. So it's gotta be a real steering wheel and real switches and real controls.

[00:30:49] Michael: But for many years, the behind the scenes of it was. Taking actual automotive parts, steering columns and motor drivers and very industrial grade parts that for an inventor, for an vendor engagement for this company just didn't make sense. They weren't an OEM, they're a smaller company. They didn't need the robustness of a Raptor controller for controlling their actuators.

[00:31:15] Michael: They didn't need the robustness of automotive OEM grade connectors. This thing was going to sit in a hospital and just need to have that touch and feel. And so what we actually did then is an alternative solution was, how can we still get to the same product line, but with different components that match the type of vendors they need to find and we actually went the video game, controller route and so having a solid state motor on a.

[00:31:41] Michael: Controller and everything. And then we that were Motivo stepped in is not only identifying these parts of vendors, but then we did the adapter that could go from an OEM steering column to this gaming controller. And now when they engage with these vendors, it's a much more casual conversation. The quantities make more sense.

[00:32:00] Michael: ironically, this company is now this, gaming controllers, biggest customer, because they're used to selling one at a time, not 20 at a time. As opposed to when they were dealing with automotive OEM, they couldn't even get people to answer emails for six months because they're asking for 20 from a company that normally sells 20, 000.

[00:32:19] Michael: And so realizing that makes the whole product development so much more efficient. And it's like being a matchmaker, right? It's okay, you have requirements and you have requirements and Motivo's goal is to make sure those requirements align.

[00:32:32] Ryan: So who's got the experience building video game cabinets.

[00:32:35] Michael: that was me. That was me coming in. But again, it's, I came in from a race car background, and so I used to build race cars and build racing simulators. And when I came to Motivo and saw the product, I was like, wait, I think we might be able to solve it this way. Have we tried and just nobody else at Motivo had played with the racing simulator element of it.

[00:32:56] Michael: And we just tried it one day and it worked and the client loved it.

[00:33:00] Ryan: It's like I tell my kids, there's a trade show and a trade industry and an association for everything. And, if you're thinking automotive, but you weren't thinking gaming with pro, prosumer level, gaming columns for, setting up that 3D VR, driving simulation. that's one of those connections that only happens because of.

[00:33:23] Ryan: People and these diverse backgrounds, Stephan, as we're coming into the close here. what do you see as the aha moment, or that, what people should be expecting when they're planning on going and building out that connected solution. Is there something in particular that you like to caution people outside of. They're being alternative solutions is there an experience or advice that you find it's valuable when you're talking people either down from the ledge or talking them into a particular type of project.

[00:33:55] Stephan: So I think what it often comes down to as well is when you're working with a partner through something like this, or even for yourself in the end, at the beginning, really looking through, okay, what are my requirements?

[00:34:11] Stephan: But not only requirements and really think through what is a true requirement.

[00:34:15] Stephan: What are nice to haves, what are want to haves, those kinds of things. think through your market,who's going to be buying this. what industry does this fall under, right? is this actually a consumer product or is it maybe actually... maybe like a, new joystick controller is that a consumer product or is this actually maybe something better for 

[00:34:35] Stephan:

[00:34:35] Stephan: construction industry because they have higher fidelity controls, those kinds of things and thinking through your, your idea a lot, but then on the other hand, don't get.

[00:34:48] Michael: Yeah.

[00:34:50] Stephan: in too hard. engineering is in the end a little bit of guess and check as well. you build it and you try it and you learn from it. generally there's always iterations. And so knowing that there's going to be iterations and being willing to learn from those iterations, I think is the biggest thing.

[00:35:10] Stephan: So know your requirements, know what you want to get into, really think it through, but then still be open to change as your product develops and as it grows up, it's like kids, right? you have an idea of what you'd love for that to become, but you have to be okay with it sometimes also having a little bit of its own mind and developing the way that it wants to develop.

[00:35:30] Stephan: And yeah, all projects have a little mind of their own.

[00:35:36] Ryan: Well, I'm hearing that everyone that has an idea and doesn't have the clear understanding of, oh, this is exactly how we need to build it because we've had the experience. But when you're going into the unknown, don't find the most confident person in the room or the most confident vendor that says, oh, we know how to solve that.

[00:35:56] Ryan: But it's the curious companies that are willing to look at it from different angles that could drastically change the outcomes to, to the positive by exploring alternative backgrounds and histories and,companies like Motivo really strike me as that skunk works that, so many companies are unable to Experience on a regular basis to truly be pushed to think bigger or narrow the focus down to what the actual problem that needs to be solved.

[00:36:28] Ryan: And this sounds like a great exercise and I'd encourage anyone to go ahead and check out Motivo's website as well. They've. outline some of their process and there's some really neat projects. Is there any project in particular that people should check out, on the website that you'd say this is a great example of what alternative solutions of brainstorming and, retrospectives leads to.

[00:36:52] Michael: Yeah, I mean, it's it sounds like a little bit of a sales pitch, but 1 of the best products that we've ever put out is actually a spin out company or sister company, which is monarch tractor, which is an EV and autonomous tractor company out of the Bay area. But that started in house at Motivo as an idea of our founder and taking all the lessons learned from previous projects and the speed in which we were able to get that initial product line and pilot series out.

[00:37:18] Michael: Which really based on being willing to get creative, being willing, like Stephan said, is look at the requirements. we had the initial requirements, but the timeline didn't match hitting all of them. So which ones can we par back? What are the higher value ones? Where can we get creative in the short term that may not impact it in the long term?

[00:37:36] Michael: And so that's a great product. That's really out there that shows how quickly we can go from here's an idea on a whiteboard to actual moving parts out in the field. And when it came down to it, that really happened in under a year for an entire vehicle from scratch build, which is pretty amazing to think about from such a small team.

[00:37:55] Ryan: That is absolutely wild. That's wild and under a year to, to pull something off like that. that's a congratulations are in order on that 1,

[00:38:03] Stephan: I was just gonna say, yeah, I just saw an article, I think the first five, just came off the production line from Foxconn. So it's crazy to see how Big Monarch has gotten. and yeah, just to, I don't know. I guess what I love most about being with Motivo and Doing what I do every day is seeing the success of our clients and seeing things Out in the world and getting to work with really cool people and really cool Companies and working on cool ideas and that's really what we're about 

[00:38:33] Ryan: as an engineer, what kind of problems do you

[00:38:35] Ryan: want to solve? 

[00:38:36] Stephan: Ones that haven't been solved before. I don't know That's That's what we do every day

[00:38:41] Ryan: I love that. Thank you guys for taking time and sharing a little bit of the secret sauce behind the creativity, the curiosity and the results that a company like Motivo was able to achieve by taking the non linear route to achieving a solution, slowing down in order to speed up, as some might say.

[00:39:00] Ryan: So thank you so much for your time, 

[00:39:01] Stephan: Thank you very much 

[00:39:02] Stephan: for 

Thanks for having us. This has been another episode of what to expect when you're connecting. Until next time.

[00:39:10] What is Soracom to You?

[00:39:10] Ryan: What is Soracom to you?

[00:39:14] Michael: I'll go first because I'll have the less technical answer. Soracom to me has been, um,a collaborative partner that kind of aligns with the Motivo values. everything I've researched on Soracom,and how transparent Soracom has been about their mission statement and not even just product line, but having a vendor that aligns with the Ideas and the innovation that Motivo goes with, that's what Soracom is to me is, a transparent, but aligned, partner.

[00:39:43] Stephan: I don't know it just popped into my head It's like Soracom Makes IOT easier. Like just the connectivity Through being able to use 5G, getting a SIM card, managing it, especially in a prototype world It just seems much easier than the alternatives quicker.

[00:40:02] Stephan: That's kind of yeah, what popped into my head first.

[00:40:07] Takeaways about the Soracom Platform

[00:40:07] Ryan: If you Could share just a little bit of your,takeaways from when you were walked through the Soracom platform maybe just some of the things that jumped out as problem solvers and engineers that,resonated.

[00:40:22] Stephan: one of the biggest points for me Especially like doing aerospace doing medical stuff hearing a lot about the redundancy type and notbeing locked into one provider the quick switching, if there's a dropout or something like that, I thought that was huge as well as the added security and encryption, the data savings that you guys can do that.

[00:40:42] Stephan: That is that's stuff that we've been really thinking about a lot since we had the presentation from you guys.

[00:40:47] Stephan: Um, the, second thing was the user dashboard, being able to quickly change settings, things, instead of having to call somebody up and and go through all that process, especially with with the quick prototyping that we do and changing things a lot um, having the ability to do something like that is, is huge. from what I've seen, it's usually not that easy. so hearing about the the accessibility to the users there was huge for me and lowers the barrier of entry for somebody to just try it out implement it into a product.

[00:41:17] Ryan: So I'm hearing as an integrator, having that granular level of control early on and not having a gatekeeper that you have to,

[00:41:27] Michael: everybody. 

[00:41:28] Ryan: negotiate, Oh, could you turn this on? Oh, could you try this? Okay. was there any initial things from someone who evaluates vendors and goes through this learning process?

[00:41:39] Michael: Yeah, for sure. having talked to everybody afterwards, like one of the biggest thing that has stood out for me is like the willingness to have conversations, the willingness to ask for feedback like you're doing right now.

[00:41:50] Michael: And so as somebody who does evaluate vendors, both on the project side and the Motivo business side, like we are creative, we are unique. We know that. Thank you. So it's really valuable to have vendors that realize that are willing to say, here's what we offer right now. Tell us what you would need beyond that, and let's see what we can do.

[00:42:11] Michael: that's everything for us. And that comes down to, our IoT vendors. That comes down to, we work with machine shops where we're only willing to hop on a call and go over drawings with our engineers. If you want us to send you a package and be done, like that's not somebody we really have the time to work with, right?

[00:42:27] Michael: We need to have those conversations. Cause we're always going to do something right on the edge of creativity and pushing the limits. So we got to be able to have that conversation back and forth and having a vendor who's going to be willing to be like, Nope, that's not going to work. But this might. And so it's the no, but conversations that are really important from vendors.

Interview
What is Soracom to You?