Dr. Edward Pultar: Co-Founder & President, Valarm

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Dr. Edward Pultar, PhD is Co-Founder & President at Tools.Valarm.net. Edward received his two Bachelor’s degrees in Geography and Computer Science (minor in Math) from the University of Utah. His Master’s degree in Geography is also from Utah. During his PhD program, Edward was awarded the Jack and Laura Dangermond GIS Fellowship, and also interned at Google, where he worked on Google Earth. In 2011 Edward received his PhD in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has served as a faculty member in the Spatial Sciences Institute at University of Southern California as well as in Spain as a visiting professor of GIS teaching technology courses in English and Spanish at Universitat Jaume I. Edward co-founded Valarm with his brother Lorenzo in 2012. The company's product, Tools.Valarm.net software, provides organizations with effective remote monitoring systems integrating Industrial IoT sensors.

How did you get into the industry?

I’ve been in the remote monitoring and Industrial IoT industry since starting Valarm with my brother Lorenzo in 2012. On a related note, I’ve been in the technology and geographic information systems (GIS) industries for over a decade, which provide a firm base for the Tools.Valarm.net software that is our product today. You never know how you’ll end up doing what you’re doing, take it 1 day at a time. My background before Valarm included various university and industry experiences.

Any emerging industry trends?

As Industrial IoT sensors and technology in general improve, there are developments that bring remote monitoring to more organizations than ever, including improvements in things like:

•    Availability

•    Size and Form Factor

•    Costs

•    Accuracy

Since sensors today have become smaller and more accurate, it’s easier than ever to use remote monitoring to improve business operations and save time and money. Organizations can easily afford sensor network deployments to effectively monitor their valuable environmental factors like water, air, and other products and assets. With such a large quantity of sensor manufacturers around the world, the prices of sensors have lowered and are more available since everyone has a lot more options today.

Power sources for remote monitoring equipment are also more widely available and cost-effective. Standard wall mains power (e.g., 110V or 220V) is appropriate whenever it is available since it’s reliable and requires less hardware than solar power systems. Today solar panels are also more efficient, widely available, and affordable. Solar power makes Industrial IoT sensors rapidly deployable and mobile, so remote monitoring units like flood warning systems can easily be picked up and moved between bridges, rivers, beaches, coasts, and any other locations. As developments in batteries come about, we’ll see even more portable remote monitoring systems that are smaller form factor and can run longer without needing a charge. This means IoT devices will stay up and alive even longer in inclement, cloudy weather and climates. And as battery efficiencies improve, size and weight decrease and make it easier for you to remotely monitor things you didn’t think were feasible.

Networking technologies are rapidly developing as well. Standard internet connectivity options like GSM mobile cell network, Ethernet, and WiFi are tried and true ways for IoT sensor devices to connect to cloud gateways like Tools.Valarm.net. New technologies promise better connectivity along with being faster and higher availability. Network technologies like Ingenu, Sigfox, and LoRa WAN can overwhelm an organization with options for deploying remote monitoring systems, but we work hand in hand with our customers to make sure we work together to deploy the most effective monitoring systems for the specific environment.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

The networking opportunities and challenges mentioned previously are 1 thing that comes to mind. There are more and more options for connecting Industrial IoT devices to the internet, like Ingenu, LoRa WAN, and Sigfox. It’s possible that some networking technologies will emerge as standards more widely adopted around the world. This represents opportunities for market share where we see a lot of businesses focusing.

Environmental monitoring can be seen as an opportunity and challenge for remote monitoring systems. As our water and air become more important for us every day, IoT sensors help make water resources management more effective. Whether it’s through monitoring flood warning systems, water usage, aquifer health, flow meters, air quality, water levels, pollution, or other factors, it’s both a challenge and opportunity for Industrial IoT to help make human life sustainable on our planet.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

Valarm was founded when my brother Lorenzo’s motorcycle was stolen. He wanted a cost-effective, rugged, reliable, and flexible solution for monitoring locations of assets, like a future motorcycle. Being a software engineer, Lorenzo programmed the initial Valarm Tools Cloud software platform - Tools.Valarm.net. When the value of GPS-tagged, sensor information became apparent, with my background in spatial technologies we developed and matured the software, and continue improving it today based on what our customers need. Today organizations around the world, in various industries, use Tools.Valarm.net to remotely monitor Industrial IoT sensors for applications like flood warning systems, water resources management, chemical distribution, remote environmental monitoring, engineering, fleet vehicles, tanks, equipment, and other assets.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We continue to listen to our customers every day to learn how we can best improve and what to focus on. One recent example are new automatic calculator features on Tools.Valarm.net. These new product features and services help our customers in various industries, like flood warning systems, chemical distribution, tank monitoring, water resources management, air quality, pollution, and other environmental monitoring. We’ve integrated functions to calibrate and interpolate IoT sensor device measurements, which provide our customers with even more accurate sensor values from all types of sensors like water and air quality. Automatic averaging and other statistics are being added to improve business intelligence and analytics opportunities. Additionally, integration with Esri GIS, 2D, and 3D mapping provides organizations with better situational awareness of what’s going on at remote facilities, vehicles, and any other assets.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Our partnership with Esri has contributed positively to our business at Valarm. During my PhD studies, Esri founders Jack and Laura Dangermond, helped fund my university education through scholarships and fellowships. It’s clear how both Valarm and Esri benefit from being business partners and helping our mutual customers solve their problems easier than ever.

We also work with other software companies like Cityworks, which provides GIS-centric asset management and fits well with Tools.Valarm.net applications for Smart Cities that remotely monitor everything from water to air, and all that’s in between. Over the years we’ve partnered up with various environmental consultancies as well. This helps us with everything from field expertise, to boots on the ground and customer relationships.

Sensor hardware companies and manufacturers are also strategic partners that have contributed to Valarm. Working closely with sensor makers like Flowline and Yoctopuce lets us focus on making quality software while they focus on making quality hardware. I believe that’s a key advantage, since focusing on your strengths means better products and results for everyone.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

That’s a great question. Honestly, there are many difficult moments. I’m grateful for all of the life experiences. I’ve learned to let go, not take things too seriously, focus on the present things that you can control, and really think about when to say yes and when to say no. Also be open to quickly change gears and focus on what’s most essential right now for everyone. While at the same time, balancing that with persistence and sticking with what’s important. It’s really tough, but you get better at it and learn over the years so be patient.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Tools.Valarm.net is used for remote monitoring in a variety of industries around the world. Most recently we’ve seen an increase in using Industrial IoT sensors for monitoring water and air. Our customers most enjoy, appreciate, and benefit from saving time and money. This happens in a variety of ways, from early warning and alerting, to eliminating driving for hours to the field to take sensor measurements. Automatic remote monitoring helps businesses save on maintenance fees for vehicles, and use staff in optimal ways to improve operations and any organization’s effectiveness.

How do you motivate others?

We’re a small company and I believe we’re fortunate for that since every one of us on the team can see and feel first hand the impact of our work. I’m grateful to be part of something bigger than myself and feel lucky to be in a position to help our customers be more effective. Perhaps you’d agree that helping productivity and operations at organizations makes motivation simple and natural, since everyone is growing, improving, and realizing results from the field to the office.

Career advice to those in your industry?

In my opinion, patience and persistence are key. A lot of the cliché phrases we hear all the time have truth to them, that’s why they’ve continued to be passed down from generation to generation over the years.

Stop and think about what’s most important to you. Be honest with yourself and experiment to find the ways you can best contribute. Think about what particular skills you’re best at. Find customers in your industry that have a need for your product. Start with your first customer and listen and learn from them on how to make your product better. If you’re scratching your own itch, that can be even better, think about what your clients really need and make it happen.

Learn. Read books. Listen to podcasts. There are amazing, free resources out there and folks that give better advice than me. Start with your favorites and see who they reference and what they say. A few of my favorite folks are Rich Roll, Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferriss, David Heinemeier Hanson, Jason Fried, and Jack Dangermond. Read and listen to the stories of others, and those they interact with. Learn through the experiences of others.