BLOCK71 SINGAPORE Entrepreneurs Feature — XRVision
In this week’s Entrepreneurs Feature, we spoke with Guy Ron, co-founder of XRVision, a Security start-up with products in the Computer Vision and IoT domains, namely the world leading facial recognition (FR) solution for uncontrolled and crowded environments with uncooperative and in-motion subjects , achieving an accuracy of 3x the industry standard! XRVision is also the creator of the OWL, a highly secured IoT Access Control solution for enterprises managing large number of stationary & moveable assets. We were curious to know how Guy and his co-founder Yaacov Apelbaum’s journey started. So, we approached Guy to get some insights of his exciting journey in this interesting industry.
1.How did the idea of XRVision come about?
During 2011–2014 while I was heading the Homeland Security & Safe City industry in Microsoft APAC, I repeatedly came across a holy-grail challenge that was usually described by customers as “I just completed the deployment of 1000’s of networked CCTV cameras in our city/terminal/campus/etc. just to realize that there’s no technology out there that can offer us a reliable Facial Recognition in such crowded environments when everyone is uncooperative and in motion and when the environmental conditions are out of our control (think of a rainy day in Orchard Road), can you help”. After continuous efforts to come up with a solution evaluating anything from leading commercial FR products to Microsoft own Research programs , I accidentally came across our co-founder, Yaacov Apelbaum, a competitor then who was combating the exact same battle as part of his CTO role in one of the largest European technology providers in the Smart City space.
While comparing experiences over a few beers, we realized that both of us have the same ideas on why current technologies fall short and so we started to play with a few ideas on how to tackle the problem from a completely different point of view. Shortly after we decided to embark on a journey to bring a groundbreaking technology to this somewhat conservative field and that’s when we quit our comfortable corporate roles and founded XRVision.
A year after when we were busy piloting our FR product in large retail chains and police forces, these customers pointed out to us that while our FR technology is extremely effective in detecting personnel entering into restricted areas, the other problem they face is how to prevent the unauthorized personnel access altogether, and this is when we learned that 98% (estimated at 490M) of the restricted stationary & movable assets owned by enterprise customers are still being secured using a 3000 years old mechanical locking technology, we then decided to add to our portfolio a revolutionary IoT Access Control Solution. Today XRVision is offering Detection & Prevention security solutions for large enterprises and government agencies.
2. If you could give one tip to an entrepreneur in the ideation phase what would it be?
To accept that most of the worth-solving problems nowadays already have multiple bright minds trying to crack it. In contrary to Newton’s apple story, a worthwhile ‘aha’ moment doesn’t usually come that easily, it will typically require you to deeply understand the problem as well as challenge some core viewpoints, axioms and common behaviors, thus if you have multiple friends and subject matter experts doubting your idea at an early stage, you actually might be on to something!
3. How important is domain expertise when starting up, in your opinion?
It’s crucial to have domain expertise when you start however not in the traditional meaning, corporates are packed with domain experts (hey, I was one at MS) and yet most innovations typically come from start-ups and start-up-like teams. I consider domain expertise as a ticket to the game of innovation. However, that alone will not take you far, fresh perspectives, agility, flawless execution and most importantly constant learning is what makes the difference.
When we kicked off our IoT Access Control Solution we were far from being domain experts in Asset Security, however we took the time to deeply understand the problem and then had few innovative ideas on how to solve it. A couple of years later and after numerous hours spent interacting with true domain experts, working for our customers and partners, we can now claim that we became domain experts as well.
4. At what point of life did you understand that you wanted to start your own company?
I spent 15 years in the corporate world in companies such as Intel and Microsoft before it was clear to me that what I enjoy the most in my roles is the part that had to do with starting new things, setting up new practices, identifying new opportunities and leading the creation of new breed of solutions and the like, this realization led me to take a decision to leave my comfort zone and take my chances with something I strongly believe in.
5. What do you think we can expect to see in the IoT industry the next 5 years? And where do you see XRVision 5 years from today?
Despite the hype in the media over the past few years, IoT technology gained real traction only in the consumer world, but it was never really adopted by business customers. Today, IoT is finally taking off in the enterprise domain due to a perfect storm condition of having IoT data communication becoming ubiquitous and reasonably priced, commercial cloud services providing robust IoT back-end platforms, IoT hardware becoming a commodity and most importantly, companies like XRVision who are finally offering IoT business solutions that bring tangible value to enterprise and government customers.
In the next 3–5 years the IoT market will grow tremendously, mainly in the enterprise sector, shifting the focus from dumb devices that mostly sense to smart devices that can sense, analyze and act backed by cloud-based Machine Learning capabilities for sense making. As one of the pioneers in this technology wave XRVision is aiming to gain a significant market share and see it’s solutions being sold in many countries to the world’s largest companies.
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