About this Discussion:
Connected devices is changing the way we gather data, track information, and basically, live every day life, but in order to do so, it requires constant connection to do so. And as consumers, we are at the mercy of things like cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth, which as we all know can be extremely limited in range.
Helium is solving this problem by creating a decentralized machine network that will allow machines anywhere in the world to connect to the Internet and geolocate themselves.
Frank Mong is the COO of Helium, and he joins us on this week’s episode of Innovation Calling to discuss more about how he got involved with the company, and how it’s going to help create an opportunity for everyone to take advantage of IoT.
Well, the beauty of this technology is that not only will it make connecting devices easier, but it creates a two sided marketplace where the owners can capitalize by creating their own network (and getting paid via blockchain to allow others to connect).
We talked about how they are making this all possible and the impact that can have in how data is exchanged (and how we as consumers can finally be a part of it).
To learn more about Helium visit: www.helium.com/
Frank Mong is COO at Helium. He is responsible for sales, marketing, and business development. Frank has over 20 years of experience in cybersecurity, networking, and software. Just prior to Helium, he served as Senior Vice President of product and solutions marketing at Palo Alto Networks. Frank is passionate about his family and most importantly a huge fan of the Giants, Niners and Warriors.
For more information: www.helium.com
Official Podcast Transcription:
Erin and Syya: 00:00 Let's make this happen. All right. Welcome to another episode of the Innovation Calling podcast. I'm Erin Smith and I'm Syya Yasotornrat. All right and Syya, I'm going to let you introduce our guests today. I am super, super excited today. We've got Frank Mong. He is a massively accomplished thought leader here in the Bay Area and he's done. He's built up his illustrious career with folks like some heavy hitters like Symantec, Trend Micro, HP Security, Palo Alto Networks, and most recently Helium where he's now the COO. The reason why we want to have him on board here is because, he's going to help us understand what we're talking about when we're talking about some of these buzzwords that we've really thrown around, like, you know, IOT, cybersecurity, blockchain, all that good stuff, but he's here to actually help us answer questions regarding the future of securing mobile devices. And you know, where that's going to be driving us and changing, evolving, you know, what we think of connectivity today. So without further ado, Mr. Frank Mong, welcome to Innovation Calling podcast.
Frank Mong: 01:07 Hey, thank you. Syya. Hello. Erin. It's great to be here. It's an honor to be with you guys. I love what you're doing. So thank. Thank you for having me. I'm super honored to be here.
Erin and Syya: 01:18 Well, you know, it's amazing what you can do when you'd bribe people. But, I think you actually come here to join us for good purposes, which is very helpful for us. So thank you. I kind of want to get started off here. When I initially reached out to you, I knew you obviously for many years, but I also knew you from HP Security in your time there, right? As VP manager and I worked at HP at that time, for full disclosure for everybody on the podcast. I can't help but think that you have been in so many different positions. You've talked your way through a lot of things in your very knowledgeable. Don't get me wrong, you're very charming, but I have to start off and kick off with this one event at HP that I still brag about to this day.
Erin and Syya: 02:08 All right. So I know you're laughing at me right now, but let me just go ahead and be like your mother for a second here is you pulled off a massive coup. Okay. And when you get your time at HP, you were able at the HP security event to get General Keith Alexander, the former director of NSA and the journalist Glenn Greenwald onto the stage and hosted a panel, a fireside chat, if you will. And if I'm not correct or correct me if I'm wrong, you did in a way where they were very professional. Tough questions. How the hell did you pull that off?
Frank Mong: 02:46 Yeah. This, this was a few years back and this was for HP Protect, which is an Arcsight user conference. Essentially, one of the things we wanted to talk about at the time was privacy and the ability to protect your data. And I think what drove that conversation around key values, General Keith Alexander and the journalist Glenn Greenwald, was that, if the data isn't safe at the NSA, then where is it safe? Right? It is sort of the conversation and I think leading up to that event, we had the Sony Hack of the movie, "The Interview," where the nation state, allegedly North Korea, North Korea cyber security or cyber capabilities did an offensive and was able to break into Sony, steal the movie and sort of launch it into the public or force Sony's hand into launching the movie into the public. And so that breach at Sony I think sparked an idea.
Frank Mong: 03:49 And the idea was, hey, let's talk about privacy to the world and the importance of data privacy in this case and what better way to do that then actually have, sort of one of the biggest breaches of our time, right? With the leaks from the NSA and get the journalist that broke that story and released the data. Glenn Greenwald and the head of the NSA time, General Keith Alexander to come together and talk. What was really cool and interesting about that panel wasn't actually what happened on stage because I tried to structure the conversation as much as possible to be balanced. So that both points of view, both the protector of data at the NSA and the desire to make things transparent, which is the journalist job there. I try to make it balanced for both. I think both sides have valid points on both sides.
Frank Mong: 04:43 Also have, I think valid concerns and flaws. That's sort of the structure I was trying to create. What was interesting is leading up to that panel in the backstage in the green room, neither General Alexander and Glenn Greenwald had ever talked to or met leading up to that. So before going on stage, they did not even sit with each other. They didn't talk with each other. They would not prepare for this with each other. I had to do everything separate. So we have two separate green rooms, two separate preparations. And then when we came on stage, that was the first time that the General and Glenn Greenwald actually met and talked. First time. They never actually talked before that. So that, that whole thing was. It was really exciting for me. I mean, I have to admit I was super nervous and I have to give it, give credit to General Alexander in this case, the guy is just super aware. Great situational awareness of course, where he's the leader of the NSA and he asked me before going onstage, "Hey, hey Frank, are you nervous?" I'm like, "Yes, I am. Does it show?" He's like, "Why are you nervous? You've nothing to be nervous about." And I said, "Well, I'm guessing you do hundreds of these types of things so you're not nervous." He says, "Well, I'm not nervous, but it's not because I do hundreds of these things." I'm not nervous because when he was a field general during the war in Iraq, he had to go into the front lines in the war. He went into the front lines before the US military entered Iraq. He was going into the front lines. He and I guess some kind of five star general at the time, got into the helicopter and the helicopter flew Keith Alexander and the four or five star general with them and they went into the front lines, but the helicopter actually flew too far. It went too far into Iraqi territory and it came under fire. So the helicopter was under fire. The troops were way behind this helicopter, so the General was way too far into enemy territory.
Frank Mong: 06:51 Yeah, the helicopters, there's like mortar firing at the helicopter, rpgs flying at this thing, so the pilot had to do evasive maneuvers and land the helicopter in enemy territory. This is off script. This was not planned and so as soon as they landed, the five star General started running away from the helicopter because the Iraqi forces were targeting in on that thing. Because he was trying to get out of there, and as he was running General Alexander looked down on the ground. They landed in the middle of a minefield of full of mines. The helicopters were super loud.
Frank Mong: 07:32 General Alexander had to run after his superior, grabbed him by the shoulder because the guy couldn't hear him, grabbed him by the shoulder, get him to turn around, and he pointed downward. "Look at the ground, look at where you are standing." They looked down, he realized, oh my goodness, I'm running in the middle of a minefield like that. That was when General Keith Alexander was nervous. That's the only time he's been nervous. So ever since that event, General Keith Alexander has never been nervous in his life because that was probably the most, thrilling, exciting, scary things that ever happened to him. Well, I mean, if you think about it, that's a true life and death situation. Whereas going out and talking to a few thousand people exactly is just in the grand scheme of things, I can see where being. I'm just talking to a bunch of people, can't see their faces.
Erin and Syya: 08:21 I could see where he's going to put things in perspective for you. Totally. So that completely calmed me down. After he told me that story, I was like, oh, this is nothing. I can't even compare to that would have nothing to worry about. You know, you should've said was well surprise General Alexander, we actually have some guys with guns on stage here, so if we don't like what you say or it's going to start target shooting ya. That only happens in Texas. (Laughter) It definitely puts things in perspective, right? Like of what really could happen in life and what happens to other people. And. Interesting. It's a great story. On that note though.
Erin and Syya: 08:55 I mean if you think about with what that story represents, right? In the grander scheme of things, and quite frankly his job with the NSA, it is about our security, right? In our data only they know, right what they have on all of us and security will always be an on running theme in every conversation we have in this day and age. As long as we've got the whole digital world and we're shifting. Our technology is really around monetization of data versus you know, what I think we in IT traditionally went after about monetizing our business, et cetera. This is where with your background, again, so heavy and security, when you shifted and moved over to Helium, I really wanted to understand for you, you know why would you do this jump? Because I worked at large, you went from small at SonicWall all the way to large and that's got to have given you a different perspective of things. Right. So, well before we get into that, I was going to say before we get into that story, do we want to really quick give the rundown of Helium and then I think so.
Frank Mong: 10:04 I think it's a good transition actually because I think that that's a good question of hey, why Helium now having gone through big companies actually started a small startup but way back in the day before SonicWall at Ignyte with the gang there and my best friend Sean Burke, that time was very different. 20 some odd years ago. Then I go into these bigger companies. HP, certainly a very big company, but you know, I think the experience with Keith Alexander and Glenn Greenwald, the conversation around data, data privacy, data transparency, that actually does spark something in me, hey look, there's something here. There's a problem with the world, not just that the data is secure or not secure. I think the bigger question is who's got control of that data and if you think about it, it's completely centralized. It's a centralized government, centralized system. The Internet's become very centralized. Only a few control the data that's on the Internet today, whether it be a Facebook, Google, some other big guys like Twitter and so forth.
Frank Mong: 11:12 You gotta ask yourself: Why is that data centralized and why is that only available to a few? Why isn't it, why isn't a distributed? Why isn't decentralized? Why doesn't Syya or Erin or Frank control their own data of who they are and that I think that question sort of that seed was planted in me in that conversation and it kind of frustrated me and continued to ask that question through beyond HP. Certainly at Palo Alto Networks as I continued down the cybersecurity path. Then I met a company called Helium. And what I really loved about Helium are two things. One, it actually does address the question of centralization and data. And where data goes from an IOT perspective. And two, Helium's a small early stage startup. The company was founded in 2013 by two unlikely characters, if you will, in the space of IOT.
Frank Mong: 12:14 Shawn Fanning, who we all know is the Napster guy. He was sort of the inventor of peer to peer networking. We all downloaded music. If you're my age, you know that you've got free music, thank you to Napster and thank you to Shawn. So Shawn got together with a guy named Amir Haleem, who's the Co founder of this company and Amir, you know, his claim to fame is he was champion of Quake way back in the day and his handle was Hakeem right? And so this guy, is an EA Sports guy essentially built two companies, gaming companies and sold it to EA Sports. So you've got, you've got a video game guy and you've got a peer to peer guy coming together to start an IOT startup. Well why? Why would they do that? And this is where it gets really interesting, that back in 2013 they found that software was super easy to develop.
Frank Mong: 13:08 Software had toolkits. You could essentially put together applications very quickly, very easily because they're a massive communities with massive tools, reusable code that anyone can use, anyone can build and so it really lowered the barrier for anyone to build applications. That same concept was not true for hardware. And this is a key point because IOT has a big component, which is hardware. It's not all just software and outcomes and benefits and value props. It's actually to get to the value prop, to get to the benefits, you've got to build a hardware first. That hardware, it was really difficult. There is no secret tool kit, there's no magic. It was very difficult. It's hard to deal with hardware and so Shawn and Amir said, "We've got to fix this, we can do something about this." And they actually tried, they tried to build hardware, they try to build end to end solutions for IOT and like the industry, they failed.
Frank Mong: 14:11 They actually experienced some failures, right? You've got big, big names behind the company. Marc Benioff's, "SV Angels." You've got Firstmark Ventures, the Vinod Khosla and you've got Google Ventures backing this company and they failed. They failed to actually figure out what to do in IOT. Not only did Helium fail, but the rest of the IOT industry has failed. Building and connecting the IOT products was a mess. It was a complete mess, very hard. Lots of protocols, super fragmented and when it came down to it, it was too expensive for little machines to connect everywhere because when the little machine is not in your home or your office where you can use Wifi or Bluetooth for your phone, the only other way they could connect is on cellular. And when you start touching cellular environments, not only is it difficult to build hardware for that, it's expensive.
Frank Mong: 15:06 You've got to actually pay a cellular company to get access. And here's sort of the analogy that I really connected with me to data what while data is owned by the few, so is connectivity. Cellular is only owned by a few. You can name them, right? AT&T and Verizon, TMobile, Sprint, they own it. They own connectivity. So if you're not in your house, the only way you can connect to the world is you got to use one of these people, one of these conglomerates, one of these telcos, you have no choices. So for you and I, you know, we can do that. What, we'll pay the $40 a month, $140 a month so that we can have access to Youtube and Netflix and listen to podcasts everywhere, right? But when you think about a little sensor, a little machine where their job is to send back, you know, air quality information, send back, you know, tracking location.
Frank Mong: 16:07 Why would you pay 40 bucks a month for that? You can't, it's just not feasible. It doesn't make any sense. And so there's a gap here, and this is why Helium has sort of gone back to its roots and said, look, we tried and tested lots of ways to approach this IOT situation. The fundamental problem is the network is too difficult. Whether it's a battery problem, a range problem or cost, it's just too hard. There's no plug and play for IOT. So let's go build that. And this is, this is why I was attracted to it because the method in which they decided to go build this is super interesting and I think it's been the missing link for IOT, which is blockchain. And this is. This is where that conversation of, Hey, there's a IOT here. The plug and play aspect, there's an aspect of blockchain here that's crucial.
Frank Mong: 17:01 And when you combine the two, you essentially are able to create something that the world hasn't heard before, which is a decentralized machine network. A dedicated network for machines and a network that's plug and play, a network where it's not built by AT&T or Verizon or Sprint. It's actually built by us. It's built by you. Built buy me. We'd become the network and if you, if you, if you take that a step further, it means that Erin, Syya, Frank and anyone listening, you [become the] network. They're a provider of have connectivities for any machine that wants to connect that concept there isn't. Yeah. I apologize. Can you go back 30 seconds?
Erin and Syya: 17:49 I just lost you and you froze and your voice went out so. So let's, let's take it back real quick. Here is a- thank you, wifi there you go, connectivity. So what if I can kind of take a step back here and just better understand and highlight what you're saying with a decentralized machine network, if I understand you correctly, are you saying that by leveraging a peer network that is not necessarily reliant on that 4G connectivity? Maybe it's my broadband that I've here at my house, Erin in her office, you and your office and at your house you are saying that the sensors here now, have an alternative route to transmit that data and, quite frankly bypass, the existing bottleneck of a carrier to provide that service. Is that what I'm hearing correctly?
Frank Mong: 18:42 Yeah. Think of it this way. When you're not in your house, you're not in your office and you have a particular application, you're tracking your dog, you want to walk your dog, your dog doesn't need to be on a leash and you want the dog to be able to run around, you know, anywhere the dog wants to go. You don't want to make sure that that dog is able to, to run freely and you can track that dog. Well, there's no technology today that lets you do that, I think in a, in a real seamless way without line of sight to your dog. If your dog gets too far from you, you've going to lose track of that animal. Right? And so what Helium is doing essentially is building a sensor or radio network that can attach to the dog collar. And if everyone helps us build a network and puts a gateway in their home, we're going to be able to track that dog within a six mile radius of the closest network.
Frank Mong: 19:44 And so that's not using cellular, that's not using Wifi, that's using, what we called RF radio frequency 900 megahertz, which is everywhere around us. Essentially, it's leveraging that existing radio frequency to connect that dog. Now back to you and the application there of tracking your dog without the need of a cell phone, without the need of Wifi or cellular, uh, has a lot of benefits, right? Because you could now essentially track anything that's of value to you, which is a very small form factor and the battery life lasts for years. And it becomes a super practical use that I don't think we've cracked yet. We've been able to sort of crack that nut on. And so when I say decentralized machine network, it's really implying connecting any device or anything like a dog collar to you, back to you, or to your cloud or to your enterprise and to do it a very cost effective way, so that the to you or you get to, you know, always know where your, your loved one is or your, your pet is, or where your most valuable item is.
Erin and Syya: 20:55 Right? I mean, that's one use case, let's be honest, there's gonna be a certain segment of population that probably just got turned off because they're not dog people. I don't understand who they are, but apparently, um, but, uh, I mean, I can see other use cases for this. And I think, again, I keep harping on, you said earlier that IOT is failed, right? And I can tell you there's dozens of hundreds of other companies are saying, oh my God, Frank, what are you saying? But in my experience, what I've seen in a, in a enterprise environment, right? So if you're talking about logistics, um, you know, whether you're a healthcare or a, I'm sorry, a life sciences company where you're shipping medicine and you know, where that shipment is, if it's maintained correct temperatures, I can, I can understand that use case, it just seems to me they would be the earlier adopters of this type of technology. So, so with what you're saying with Helium, it doesn't matter what industry, you're just saying, here's how we can do it. Here's an alternative path. And it will be caught more cost effective. Is that correct or is it your sensors, um, specific to enterprise versus, you know, small, medium businesses requirements, I guess help me understand that.
Frank Mong: 22:14 It's a great question because to, to succeed here, building a network, it's not Helium building the network. I think you're hitting on a really good point here, which is we're trying to enable a two sided marketplace where you, the individual, the community around us, we are the network owners, Syya owns network. I own a network and that's one side of the marketplace. Or we become network providers. This is where the decentralized network happens. On the other side of the marketplace is the applications. It's the enterprises. It's people that have particular use cases, whether it be, you know, you talked about medicine, whether it be at Pharmaceuticals, right? Imagine we're working with a large pharmaceutical company called, well call them Pharma, Pharma X today, manufacturers cancer medicine, and they actually ship probably close to 100,000 cancer viles, both in liquid powder form, uh, around the world.
Frank Mong: 23:13 And the way it works today is they track the medicine within their manufacturing supply chain using RFID or barcode as soon as it leaves its facilities and starts to go to the edge, to the doctors, to the clinics, to the patient, they actually lose sight of it. It's no longer trackable by Pharma X. It's a Pharma X is concerned about that because what happens is when the medicine arrives in a doctor's office or clinic, or the patient, sometimes it's not at the right temperature. It's been, it's too hot, too cold, or it's been shaken too much, and the impact of that is that the medicines is less effective. It's not going to be optimal for treatment. And so then you have a loss. They're not just a loss because the medicine cost is, is lost, but it's the patient loses because now now the patient's going to get less effective medicine where the patient can't use it and it has to wait for the new batch of medicine to come. Right now.
Frank Mong: 24:13 That I think, impact sort of like it's life and death, right? It could have saved you if you had it sooner or you could have been saved because it would have been more effective and so Pharma X wants to mitigate that risk so that patients do get the right type of medicine at the right time and the right temperature. And so what we've been able to do with our network is essentially create a sensor on the cap of that medicine vial where we can track temperature, we can track whether or not the medicine's been shaken too much and all that's reported back to Pharma X, It's so Pharma X can determine throughout the entire supply chain where that medicine is, how it's been treated. And when it arrives in a clinic, is it in the refrigerator, at the right temperature and when the seal is broken at that moment is the formula at its optimal place.
Erin and Syya: 25:07 Right. That's fascinating. I mean, yeah. Well, can I ask something though, because I've, I've talked to a lot of IOT type companies and its the connectivity issue that is interesting to me because like one of them, for example, was a trucking company and they put a IOT devices in these trucks, especially from like you're saying, being able to monitor so, or the dog collar is a perfect example. Like it exists, like I've seen tracking devices for dogs, so this isn't necessarily new. I'm, I'm just, I want to make sure I understand because you know, I'm listening to this going, but wait, I thought this was already out there and working. Are you just saying it's just a better technology or you know, like I know you'd mentioned where IOT was failing is this where once we lose, um, once we're in the traveling situations or we get out of a wireless situation, we could potentially lose that data and that's where it's failing. So is that where Helium just as a better solution for what's out there?
Frank Mong: 26:06 Yeah, I think. I think you bring up a really good question. The question of is this a better solution? It's actually very, I think at different solutions, not just better because in the case of the dog collar, for example, if if that was a thing and it was working correctly, every dog would have it, but that's not the case. Not every dog has it and the main reason why is because a dog collar solutions you see today are operating on either GPS and cellular or a combination of both. In the problem with both, is power. A dog collar is only a certain size and you can only carry a certain size battery. And GPS and cellular are extremely power hungry, so it draws a lot of power, so the dog collar is only going to work for a few days before you have to charge it just like you've got to charge your cell phone or your Apple Watch.
Frank Mong: 27:00 Right? Pretty much everyday and the practicality of doing that, you know what at the end of the day is just not, not practical and it's not accessible for everyone because that's an expensive dog collar now. Right? It's like a cell phone. It's going to cost you a few hundred dollars. That's just, that's not fair in a way. It's just not a level playing field and so what we're proposing is, and I haven't even gotten by the way to the, to the hall, the point that if you use cellular, you got to pay for a cell plan to connect that dog collar. It's not just free and so what we're proposing is that if we can build a network and all of our neighbors and we're able to plug in a gateway that is offering essentially very low cost near free RF connectivity and that dog collar's not using cellular. It's not using GPS.
Frank Mong: 27:53 It's using this Helium radio and that Helium radio with the gateway is going to connect that dog collar, right, one all the time because it's radio frequency now and it's going to do it at very low battery because the battery life we're talking about is years, right? The dog collar with a battery pack on a Helium radio could last a year to two years, so you don't have to worry about recharging it everyday. I think it's probably likely that you would be willing to charge it every year and then the cost. Well guess what, Erin, you, you get to charge what the cost would be. Syya gets to charge, and every time that dog passes your house, Syya's house, Frank's house, and it wants to send a signal to its owner. "Hey, I'm here. I'm at Syya's house now." Syya's gateway gets to charge whatever she wants to charge, it's an.
Frank Mong: 28:46 It's an open market to so Syya can say, "You know what? I love dogs. I'm going to charge a fraction of a token." Which could be equivalent to a fraction of a penny in US dollars, right? Whatever Syya decides and the dog collar owner can say, "Oh, I'll pay that. I'll pay a fraction of a penny any day to be able to find my dog." That's nothing. Right? And so, so now, now, now it's a whole different game now. Now it's not AT&T making money on this value prop it's Syya. It's Erin, it's you, it's Frank. It's anyone else that wants to participate. Does that make sense? So you're solving a problem attracting the dog, but you're doing it in a way where you're creating a, I would say, a level playing field. You're creating, this new economy where everyone can make passive income, right? If they want to be a network provider.
Erin and Syya: 29:34 So. Okay. So let me understand that a bit more. So it's interesting to me because how many people though do you need buy in for this? So you need the dog collar manufacturers and then all of the neighborhood essentially just to say or everyone. Because what happens if my dog goes to Syya's house and Syya has no tracking. Right? Does, does that mean I can't find my dog, my dog has lost during that point or I'm just like, I'm looking at the marketing and the getting the buy in on a product like this. Like how many people are required?
Frank Mong: 30:08 Yeah, it's a two sided marketplace, right? So we have to get people to buy the gateway to put it in their house. The incentive there is built in because of the blockchain, right? Every time the gateway is turned on and it's proving its location in a consensus algorithm, this is sort of what you need to how blockchain works. Now, blockchains work by building blocks in a chain. Our consensus algorithm is called Proof of Coverage and so gateways around the world are gonna approve each other that they exist. This is not like a virtual machine or it's not a a fake gateway sitting in AWS. It's a real physical network that's offered at Syya's house, Erin's house, Frank's house, and will constantly check each other every 60 seconds and every time you prove you're real, you're building a blog, you're storing your location in time.
Frank Mong: 30:57 That's important because that's what allows us to figure out where your dog is at the end of the day. And how many of these gateways do you need? Right? So if you're living in Texas and you know you've got a dog running around, every gateway can hear a radio sensor within six miles. That's six miles with buildings and trees. If you're in the plains or desert in Texas, that range could be 30 miles, right? So because it's radio frequency, it depends. But I would say, you know, six mile radius means that your neighborhood could have one gateway and that could be enough to help you keep track of where your dog is. The more density we have, the more accurate the tracking becomes. So do we want lots of people to buy this? Yes, we want lots of buy in on this. And once they buy a gateway, they own the gateway.
Frank Mong: 31:51 It's they, they are the network provider. Now Helium doesn't own it. They own it. They set the price and the more gateways you have, the more competitive the network's going to become. It's going to get lower and lower cost. And so ideally everyone buys in on this. So the incentive, Erin, for you and for Syya and for Frank, is that we can earn passive income here. We can earn tokens right passively without having to do anything other than plugging our gateway in. That's one side of the marketplace. The other side of the marketplace is what you described. It's the manufacturers of the application. It's dog collar, it's the trucking industry, right? And the truckers building this into their rigs and the trucks and so forth, and there are companies that specialize in that area, building those sensors in our value prop to them would be, hey, instead of just using cellular and GPS, use Helium Helium radio, because there, there are people out there with gateways providing network coverage and if you use our radio, your, your value proposition is as low power and it's much lower costs overall. And so that that way you have an offering for your trucks that can find, find itself where you can find these trucks, using this alternative path that we call Helium, the Helium network.
Frank Mong: 33:11 And so yes, so our job as Helium is to go and build this two sided marketplace. And so on the one hand we're going to sell gateways to individuals who are interested, and on the other hand, we're going to sell this technology. I shouldn't say sell. We're going to open source all of this by the way. And so the open source aspect of this makes it very easy for other sensor makers, trucking, healthcare, pharma to adopt our technology because they can go and build on this, they can, you know, ask us to help them build on it, and we will, so their application now can use this network, right? So this, this is where the two sided marketplace comes in. And so for us to drive the adoption of our technology, which will be open source, the hardware, the software, the firmware, we're creating an alliance that's a nonprofit, it's called the decentralized machine network alliance and we've already got like 12 or 13 members now on this, on the alliance where their interest is to use this technology to build on top of it, to build the applications so that it can use this network that you and I and Syya can provide.
Frank Mong: 34:23 It's complicated. It's not easy that this part of it's not easy. It's very hard to do. But we think that the blockchain is the key. Because blockchain is, it solves the problem with like the cold start, why, "What's in it for me," right? If you want to think about it, hey, what's in it for Erin? What's in it for Syya? What's in it for Frank? So some, some folks they want to do it just because it's decentralized. It's a way for you to take ownership of a network, right? Some, some people want to do it because hey, it's good for the community. If we are able to do this, we could track dogs. Hey, we could even attract children. You could like create a little tile device and your kids walking to school. You don't want to give your child a cell phone because they don't need one right now.
Frank Mong: 35:04 It's not appropriate. Put a little sensor in your child's clothing and you'll always know where your kid is, right? So you have to worry about that anymore. That's priceless. Who wouldn't want that? Right? Maybe except for your child. Everyone else who was right.
Erin and Syya: 35:17 This is again what you just nailed it right there in more community based use case scenario. You're about smart cities all the time. Those are initiatives that are driven by the carriers, right? Because they know they've got the market for it. I think this is a, I can see this as a very solid alternative. Is it a flat out replacement?
Erin and Syya: 35:38 I don't think I, I think both of them coinciding, and this is, you know, I think that the appropriate application and use case, yeah, there's carrier base that enterprises are going to need for various reasons, but I also see where Helium solution really is attractive. I mean, Erin, I'm thinking about just like a, I can see us. We're private sector, right? I'm sorry. Public sector. So like the City of Dallas for example, or Frisco or whatever might be interested in maybe using this technology to chase after strays. Right. And the more cost effective it would be, we're now, not only are the dogs chipped or animals chipped, but now you can actually trace them in real time and, and know where your assets are, whatever it might be, whether it's human or you know, kids on backpacks, right? Uh, you know, sensors on that.
Erin and Syya: 36:27 Um, I could see the application on that. So you know where I'm going to go with this Frank, because I am very, I'm very sensitive to a machine and machine learning, communication, et cetera. There's two things here and you know, I'm going to say it. Are we what we're doing with IOT, are we kind of pushing ourselves along into that whole like, you know, robots are going to end up running these, you know, this isn't skynet because you know, I love that word skynet. But then on top of that, with the most recent things going on with Facebook and you know, all that, how secure is this? I mean this is corporate data that's getting transferred and it's, if I'm using my gateway, I'm opening up my IP traffic on a route through my network. Is there going to be segmented off and looking at some kind of DMZ. I mean those are two big questions. And so can you give me like the "Frank Mong special" not long, because I want to be respectful for your time here.
Frank Mong: 37:24 Got It, got it. So funny, funny you bring up Skynet, the name of Helium's original name in 2013 was Skynet. Helium actually owns that name, so it's funny. The company was called Skynet and the division was to build a network for machines. Okay.
Frank Mong: 37:41 Okay,
Erin and Syya: 37:42 wow.
Frank Mong: 37:43 Sure.
Frank Mong: 37:44 To and then we communicate independently, connect and do its job. Now there is a negative sort of overtone to that, right? Because you got to the movie terminator and Arnold Schwarzenegger and so forth and get the rise of the machines and the human race. That that's not the goal. Our goal as Helium is to create a world of the Jetson's alright, where machines are independent, they're connecting, but they're doing their job to make our lives better, and I'll give you an example. With blockchain, we could truly make our lives better, not just for the rich and the powerful and the people that have access. I think our goal, especially in the world of municipalities in helping governments and helping communities is to make the world better for everyone, including the poor, including those that don't have access. Right?
Frank Mong: 38:36 What does that mean? If you think about it, the smart cities, you brought up smart lighting, very simple lights that should be in neighborhoods. Light that should work, not because you're paying your property tax or you're in a rich neighborhood and you're always gonna have the best and the lights will turn on for you at night so you feel like you're safe and you can walk outside and enjoy the weather. But that should happen if you're in a poor neighborhood, especially if you're in a neighborhood that needs that. And so when you think about smart lighting, our goal is to make this so affordable, so accessible so that even in poor neighborhoods, they, they would have access to safety, they would have smart lighting and they can participate in this economy. They could become a network provider, they can create a passive income for themselves, right? So that they can now sell their data access to machines also. And so our, I think our goals here from a perspective of this machine environment is to help people and not just the rich and the powerful, but actually for those that don't have access, I think we could do that. Now the second, the second part of your question was what I forgot,
Erin and Syya: 39:48 Security. Opening up my IP address with the gateway sitting my network. Right. Help me understand this gateway. Is it going be sitting behind my firewall in front of my firewall? What exactly is going to get transferred as if I'm that trucking company? I don't want you to know if I'm definitely that pharmaceutical company. I don't want your data going through, you know, Joe Schmoe network and people that are wanting to invest in this and because blockchain is sexy, they don't have the proper security firewalls that obviously the people that are aware will, right? Or they'll just get whatever is included in whatever carrier they provide some router and that might have like maybe real basic, you know, a security features. So help me understand security aspect. That's. I think it can be.
Frank Mong: 40:37 I think there's two critical elements to this. One is that this is based on RF technology, radio frequency, which is open. It's open right everywhere so you can listen and you can hear it. So the key to securing that aspect of it is to have encryption on the radio itself. And so the encryption on the radio, which will encrypt the data at the source, the machine, the sensor is going to have it's gonna generate data and that data will be, will be encrypted natively or automatically from our radio all the way back to its destination. Which means that the gateway that hears it doesn't actually hear the contents of the data. All it hears is I need to go, I need to go back to Syya. Syya owns me. I'm Syya's machine. It has asked me to let her know where I am.
Frank Mong: 41:28 Right? I'm attached to her dog, you know, Whiskey. And so Whiskey. The dog here, is now over at Erin's house. Syya wants to know that. So Whiskeys, dog collar is going to call home using other people's gateway. The gateways are not going to know what's in the contents of that. You know, that packet? They're going to know that, hey, this is a particular location at a particular time. There's this information that's encrypted, I'm going to pass it through my gateway charge, Syya some amount of tokens. And then Syya agrees to pay for that is going to receive that information. And for Syya, you're going to know where your dog is or what time it was there and where it's moving to and you're going to receive that info. It's all encrypted. Alright guys, that's the first thing is no one else can see that, but Syya.
Frank Mong: 42:15 That's one aspect of security. The other aspect of security that may not be as obvious is that the recording of that information of time and location, time and space is public. It's a public ledger. Blockchain is all about transparency. It's all about being public. And so if you ever want to go and audit or if you're an enterprise like the Pharma X company, you need to audit, hey, did this medicine pass through these locations at this time? The answer is go audit that yourself. So if you're an auditor, you're regulator, you're concerned about compliance for the medicine. It's an open book. There's nowhere to hide. You can see exactly where that cancer med was, what location at what time. And no one can can go in ultra that because it's a public ledger and it's built on consensus. You can't change it. The truth is going to be built on 51 percent.
Frank Mong: 43:18 Fifty one percent of the network says this is the truth. That's the truth. It's built by consensus for you to go fake that you would have to go influence 51 percent of network, which is very, very hard. Near impossible. That's another aspect of security which is, which is amazing. Because, because yes, on the one hand you want to encrypt the data, the data itself, that's your personal data is encrypted. So no one should be able to hear that. On the other hand, when it comes to compliance, auditing, regulation, you've got to show you gotta show that I did my due diligence, I did everything I could in that. That proof is public. You can't change that. So, which is really cool, right? And these are two aspects of security. Uh, you know, I think the encryption existed before, but this concept of public transparency of auditability and the blockchain, that's brand new. And I think it's super powerful, especially for enterprises.
Erin and Syya: 44:14 So let me take it back. Okay. So I'm going to go back to the dog. I put a chip on my dog. I'm assuming that corporation that makes that dog collar. Yes. In partnership with Helium, assuming like Helium is OEM and they they can label their collar, dog collar finder or whatever you might want to call it, would then be that manufacturers like an additional service revenue stream of saying so now as part of buying that collar we're the ones that would. If I own that, if I am that dog collar company, I'm the manufacturer and I put this sensor on. Would I then say to the owner, hey, now as part of this product that you purchased, we would be the one that would determine which gateway. We would route out. That way the consumer itself doesn't have to deal with, it's seamless? Or are you saying now the one of the pitches of that collar is you, as an owner, can pick wherever you want for whatever price point. I guess I'm trying to figure out how this would be applied because I can see that a consumer being lazy and ignorant and I'm not sure if he don't understand to go to the marketplace website there to pick whatever gateway I want to in Frisco or whatever. Right?
Frank Mong: 45:30 Yeah. That's a great question. So, in that particular question, the way that the manufacturing economics would work and as a result to you, the end user would be: You would buy a dog collar that has this Helium radio on it, the manufacturer of that dog collar either by the radio from Helium or could make it themselves because we we've open sourced this thing so they could just make it on their own. On the other end there is an interface. Imagine like a phone app or there's a cloud or a web browser. We built that as well, so we have this interface that you can use. The dog collar manufacturer can use and it's free. They can use it and they can offer that to you for a fee or they can offer that to you for free. Also. It's up. It's up to the business at that dog collar manufacturer. But for you as a user, it's as simple as buying a dog collar from like Pets.com or something or Amazon, putting it on your dog, registering the collar on your phone and you're done. And how how much you pay and how that works is it's up to that manufacturer. Right? They can make it super, I hope they make it super seamless for you where it just, it just works. It just continues to work. And maybe for you it's part of sort of the costs that would, that would be, you know, when you bought the dog collar.
Erin and Syya: 46:53 You make that sound super attractive! Erin, I think we've found another business to start! Super easy. Just add it, slap it on there. Not a big deal. You know, we've got the technology. That's the hard part, right? So now we need to do is just make it all work together to build your App. That's it. Yeah. I'm am inspired. Erin, we're going to have to talk later about this. So this is really exciting Frank, I mean, what you're proposing to me again, you know, this is different from just simply creating some kind of technology. RFID based a sensor, right? Let's be honest, everyone, not everyone, but everyone in this field, in this has some kind of solution on that. What I, if I understand correctly here, Helium is proposing an alternative way to deliver the data from RFID. You guys have created a chip. Uh, it's open source so that way it could be, you know, anyone can either do it on their own so that somebody can develop their own or they can leverage yours, right? You've, you've created a page for the marketplace for blockchains that again, the standard human, it's interested in investing in the gateway and be part of that network. Uh, so that's that's a barrier of entry is basically saying, you know, Frank, Erin, Syya or Billy, whatever barrier of entry is by this gateway, right? And then from then on they can determine the price point. It's almost like I'm not sure if the company would want me to leverage their brand like this, but it's almost like the Airbnb of connectiviy, right?
Frank Mong: 48:42 You got it. It's just like that. So if you're, if you want passive income, right? And you want to earn some kind of token without having to do much except plugging it in, this would be the way. So exactly like Airbnb, you have an extra room. Do you want to rent out or you have an extra house you want to rent out or you want to rent your house when you're away on vacation. This is the exact same concept. The one difference is this, Helium is no longer in the middle. We're open sourcing all of this, so we're not like you're Airbnb where, we're collecting a percentage of this, right? Airbnb gets like a cut. They charge a fee for connecting you to a renter. We're not charging a fee, we're just letting you use this because we want this network to grow. We want you, you and I and others in the community to adopt this new network which requires you to go buy a gateway and plug it in. That's one side of the marketplace just like Airbnb. On the other side, like Airbnb, we're going to go find the applications, right? We're going to go find people that want to use your network, and the way to do that is to build a building alliance, give them the technology, hope that they build those dog collars, they build those medicine tracking applications, build those trucking, trucking apps that that's the other side. And as soon as these two sides collide, you, everyone's going to be well off, right? They'll get value out of this.
Erin and Syya: 50:09 I want to ask because I know we have just a couple of minutes really quick. So with the Airbnb example, the downside is I don't want a stranger in my house, right? So that was my. That's right. I don't want to Airbnb this extra room. Sure. I get, I have to go buy a gateway, but what's the other downside? Is there. I mean, because right now it seems like why wouldn't I take advantage? It seems amazing. Am I giving up anything? Am I, am I putting myself out there in a way by saying, yeah, just jump on this. I need this.
Frank Mong: 50:41 I don't, I don't, I can't think of a downside because there's not, there's no harm to you, right? This is, it's radio frequency is something that's just there. It's part of physics. So whether you want to use it or not, it's around you. And so all you're doing is you're plugging into device that's allowing you to leverage that radio frequency that already exists. It's already written. So I don't think, I can't think of a downside for someone in doing this.
Frank Mong: 51:13 Um, that's sort of, that's sort of, I think if there's anything magical here that would be, what's magical is I think the limitations of our ability to make the world of the Jetson's has been in place because there's only a few people that are controlling that and therefore this spoon feeding innovation to all of us. And if we can succeed here by leveraging blockchain in a good way and making it, leveraging it in a physical way, if you will, we we changed the game now. Now you, you are the network, right? You're building the network and you're essentially going to compete with the big guys like AT&T and Comcast, and you're saying, hey look, I'm no longer going to be beholden to you today. This is a network for machines, right? It's not, it's not meant to be there for you to watch Youtube and it doesn't have the bandwidth for that.
Frank Mong: 52:02 But someday if we continue to innovate as a company, we may be able to crack that code and say that, Hey, that network you've built, Erin, I know it was only for machines, is small little packets of data. Guess what? We found a way. We've created another generation of networks now that you can own that can let your neighbor watch Youtube and you can charge them for it. That's gates game changer, right? And at that point, Comcast, AT&T,T-Mobile. Hey, I'm putting you on blast. We're coming, right? This is the future where everyone's going to compete against them. That's the power of the community. That's the power of crowdsource, right. I actually makes it super exciting for me.
Erin and Syya: 52:40 Sounds very interesting. Yeah. When I first heard about your company, I was super excited. I was like, oh, well, sign me up. But full disclosure, I have not bought any. Just full disclosure,
Frank Mong: 52:55 You can't buy it yet. Right? So we're doing a presale. The gateway is coming up. That'll probably be in the June, July timeframe. The GA of this new technology with the blockchain is going to be available in September. You can come to our website today, which is Helium.com, and you can buy our current tech or current generation technology. We're, we're working with large enterprises, we're selling our technology. Big names are using us today. And very soon you're gonna hear a lot more about us. So keep checking the website, Helium.com. We'll have lots of great news ahead of us. The good thing is you're not dealing with some kind of weird shady company. We actually have been around and we're backed by, I think very relevant venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and you know, we were doing this for a good reason, for a good cause. And you know, we have, we have proof. We, we've got companies using this today. And it's only going to get better, so thanks. Thanks guys for the opportunity to talk about this.
Erin and Syya: 53:55 Thank you so much for your time on this. This is a really exciting company. I can see why you want you go from a let's be honest, comfort level of a major corporation into something that is not guaranteed, but I think there's something here and I wish you guys absolute best of luck. So Helium, Helium.com or HeliumInc.com? No, just Helium.com. And as you say, preorders are going to go live in June, which is coming up very quickly. Deliverable looks like in September. If there's any questions, I'm sure that you can reach you and your sales team. Yeah, absolutely. Just come to the website. Excellent. So Erin, any questions? It will be on our notes page too. No, just going to mention, we'll put the website link, all of that on our notes page and it'll be on innovation calling.com. Great. So I think this about concludes another wonderful session with Helium and Frank Mong, the Chief Operating Officer. And again, thanks everyone for your time and Frank as always. Thank you.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
Don't miss out on our upcoming events and podcast episodes.