2014 my year in review



A Year End Recap

It’s time to reflect on the happenings around the video conferencing world from my view as part time pundit, part time consultant and full time product developer for the year 2014. Most of it relates to my experiences with Array with a smattering of other news from our genre. This is a year in the life of a startup.

Note that this article/blog ended up much too long and boring to submit to any website I write for, so that’s why it went on my blog.


January
January started and ended with road show demos, first to Florida then to California. While every new product demo can be nerve racking, the first one is usually the worst then hopefully you get the kinks worked out. In the beginning of the year, the demos took a significant amount of setup time due to working with early Alpha prototypes. The ‘problem’ was that everyone wanted to see what we were showing before I could even set up the demo. That meant setups took even longer. After the Florida demo, we agreed to have me locked in a room by myself to set things up. That didn’t last long, but what can you do? The drive home from Florida to Cincinnati was long and something I care never to do again. The main drink of choice this week was ‘top shelf’ margaritas.

The California demo at the end of the month went well as we loaded up the gear (including two 65” tvs) and shipped it to San Jose with us following a few days later via an airplane. We ended up being able to take a look at Prysm’s video wall product up close while we were out there, which was cool. Everyone seemed very positive on our product. We ended up having a wine and cheese happy hour with our last demo period late on a Friday evening.

February
On February 11th, Polycom introduced their latest immersive telepresence product, the Immersive Studio. Designed to replace the RPX, there were some things I liked about it and some things I didn’t. I haven’t heard if it has made the impact that the RPX has. For the record, I hate 3-screen products. My thoughts on the Immersive Studio here: http://hellarddesign.blogspot.com/2014/02/polycoms-realpresence-immersive-studio.html

I wish Polycom well, but I think they should get furniture designers involved instead of outsourcing their products to industrial designers that specialize in hand held widgets. It seems like human factors are an afterthought, not just with Polycom, but with other vendors. I read it took 19 months to develop the immersive studio from concept to manufacture. Wow.

March
Enterprise Connect hit in the middle of March and I was excited to see that Cisco released new hardware products! Hardware, for those that don’t know, is apparently some sort of archaic form of technology that’s dead. At least that’s what the marketing personnel of software products tell me. While I wasn’t excited about the actual products themselves, the fact that they released something in hardware form was greatly appreciated.

April
In April was AVI-SPL’s Global Sales Meeting in Tampa in which we were invited to attend. The event took place at SaddleBrook resort which is a pretty cool place. Unfortunately, due to us being a late invite, our ‘booth space’ was next to a bunch of windows in the ante space of the hall. Windows + video conferencing = bad experience but luckily for us people were able to look past the lighting problem and saw what our product was all about. We really appreciated the invite and I had a great time since the demo went well. Plus I got to fly to Florida and back instead of driving. While I do hate flying, it beats driving any day. Drink of this week was white wine, even over steak dinners. Don’t be a hater.

May
In the early part of May, we loaded up the truck again and drove to Virginia for another round of demos and a photo shoot. From that photo shoot is where most of our current marketing photography came from. Not much else to say about that event other than some advice to other young companies; have a plan. Trying to ‘wing’ a photo shoot in the middle of a demo crushes the soul of the guy who has to keep everything running. That guy was me. Drink of week were Double Stolis.

June
The 2014 edition of Infocomm had me participating as an exhibitor for the first time with Array.  Boy, what a long week that was. Working with a startup has its ups and downs and believe me that the setup and tear down of our booth was most certainly a “down”. I arrived in Vegas on Sunday evening the week of the show to start working on our booth bright and early Monday morning. The next few days took a toll on me physically getting the booth built. The show itself, while considered an absolute success for us by any measure, took a toll on me mentally. I stayed glued to our booth praying nothing would go wrong for the first two days and not leaving our space except for the rare occasion to take a leak. Yet another downside of being in a small startup is being the only person who knows how to fix something if it fails. I felt comfortable enough by Friday to browse around for a couple of hours looking at everyone else’s booths.  Drink of the week during Infocomm was “yes please”.

After the show ended (and teardown was complete), I spent the next week and a half off the grid and on the Colorado River in a raft. Beer, chilled from the Colorado River was the mainstay.

July
At Infocomm, I was able to spend some time with Dave Maldow over a few cocktails and expressed that if he ever wanted to start something of his own I would be happy to help in any way I could. When I got back from the river trip, he contacted me about his new company, Let’s Do Video and immediately started publishing my articles.

David’s Website: http://letsdovideo.com/

October
I was contacted in October about writing for another startup. While not exactly IT or AV, video conferencing sort of holds place in both worlds, so writing for an AV based website made sense.

Cavalry Rides website: http://cavalryrides.com/

Not much else to say about October except I spent most of it grinding out part files for our parts.

November
Cisco’s Collaboration Summit was in November and they rolled out their new TelePresence 3-screen system. I gave my thoughts on their new product here: http://letsdovideo.com/initial-thoughts-on-the-new-cisco-telepresence-ix5000/ Cisco could stand to study resolution vs pixels per facial area vs percentage of life size and understand it’s not necessary to put only two people on a 70” 1080p screen.

Through CavalryRides, I got hooked up with Rave Pubs as part of their ‘blog squad’. I mentioned to them that I didn’t have time to write for three websites and hope keep a day job so they were happy to take the content that was written for CavalryRides and post it. It seems that they’re looking for ‘edgy’ or somewhat ‘controversial’ writing. I guess I fit that bill but in reality I just write what I think and if I don’t like something, I don’t like it. It’s simple. On the other hand, if I really do like something, I’m just as adamant about telling the world about that as well. Keep that in mind the next time I write something about your company’s offering. It’s never personal, but I am opinionated and want what’s best for the end user and our genre.

Rave Pubs website: http://www.ravepubs.com/

That brings me to December. No road shows or major demos this month. It’s all about sitting in front of my laptop in AutoCAD or Inventor and banging out parts. I did end up getting a 3d printer from Formlabs specifically to make prototypes. It sure beats ANY other alternative out there. 2015 will be an exciting journey with Enterprise Connect and Infocomm on the schedule and getting product out to eager customers as soon as we can.

Thanks for reading.
Bryan
Follow me on Twitter @bryanhellard

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