Lee Odess runs InsideAccessControl.com, a media platform focused on the physical access control industry, and Group337, a growth studio focused on business creation in the CRETech, PropTech and smart home markets for small to large companies in the security, access control, and IoT industry.
He has worked as an Entrepreneur and an Integrator (founded E+L+C), for a multinational billion-dollar manufacturer in the lock and access control industry (Allegion), as an Executive of a start-up who pioneered the IoT/smart lock/smart physical access control industry (UniKey), and as an Executive with the first cloud-based physical access control manufacturer (Brivo).
Labeled as an uber-networker by the Washington Post, Lee Odess has over 18 years starting, building, and leading businesses with an exceptional track record for sales growth and marketing effectiveness.
- Blake on the Inside Access Control podcast.
- Lee on the Future of Living podcast.
Blake Miller 0:00
Hey everybody, welcome back to the Future of Living podcast. I’m your host, Blake Miller. We’ve got another combined episode today, like we’ve been messing around with here on Season Three. I sat down with my friend Lee Odess on his podcast Inside Access Control, we had a great conversation about what was happening with Homebase. And I was able to flip the tables on Lee, and talk to him about his experience in the access control industry. He’s got a great knowledge across many different companies. And he really has a great perspective of what I’ve seen. And the disruption is that’s happening in the smart building space, and how access control can really lead the way.
Lee Odess 0:39
Very excited today to have my friend Blake, join me from Homebase. Blake, thanks for taking the time. We it’s good to be back, man. How are you surviving?
We’re making it work. You?
Blake Miller 0:49
Also making it work. It’s, you know, the craziest time of it. Everybody dealing with it, but you know, navigating through.
Lee Odess 0:56
Yeah, absolutely. I think he made the most of it. Right. So speaking of that. So before we jump into it, I just want to thank you, because you’re early on to the podcast when we first started doing this, and then you and I, you know, we’ve known each other before, but we’ve carried through it. So thank you for all your support. And glad to have you come back. You’re the first to come back on about that.
Blake Miller 1:16
Yes, yes. Now, it’s awesome, man. Like, we were talking before we got going on this. But it’s just been awesome to see what you’ve been creating. Because I think it’s something that, you know, the not only the access control industry, but you kind of look at smart buildings and how all this kind of rolls up. I think what you’ve been creating the content you’ve been putting out and frankly, the people have been kind of pulling together. It’s created a really great kind of discussion around the industry and has helped I think a lot of people start to figure out how to plug in and kind of contribute. So it’s been really cool to see watch you build this.
Lee Odess 1:45
Well, I appreciate that. Thank you. You don’t want to make me blush. But I appreciate the, no, so it’s it’s been fun. So…
Blake Miller 1:54
Too many conversations that we’ve had that has led to it right?
Lee Odess 1:57
It’s been a lot of them. So yeah it’s funny how this all kind of plays out. But so if we look at it, let’s so if we rewind about six months ago, you and I did this. And then since then, a lot of good news on your end from the T-Mobile side, which you could touch on. And then I thought what we you and I just discussed is let’s jump into some of the trend that you see going around, and really a move that you’re making you and I think we talked about it on LinkedIn, or there’s been a conversation. So bringing that to here. So why don’t you just give us an update on what’s happened over the past seven months? And then let’s jump into that.
Blake Miller 2:31
Yeah, so there is a thing that happened in the world called COVID. I don’t know if you’ve heard it, and, you know, yeah, it’s, you know, you know, tragic and crazy times for all, but, you know, it’s changed everything. And for us as a startup that was growing. You know, it definitely affected kind of how we approached everything, how we were building our company. You know, I’ve said this to numerous people, but we shut down the company, basically on March 13, you know, Friday the 13th. So finally, that was a day that lived up, you know, a lot of our retrofits and things like that, that we were doing across the country, we had to just put on pause, didn’t make sense sending somebody to somebody’s apartment. So really had to make adjustments really to figure that out. But after kind of, you know, April rolled around, things change, our clients started calling us saying, hey, how can we put this on more of our units? And how do we do it faster? How do we get at least locked, you know, landed on some of our retrofits, so that we can get remote management going and, and make sure not only our residents are safe, but our staff are safe, but we can keep the properties of wet weather going. And so you know, I’ve heard her and and even talk to some of our competitors that have seen some of the same things. And so all of us that have been kind of building this, this new category of smart apartment buildings have seen this kind of uptake of what I would say kind of the early adopters in the market that we’re looking for there for the advantage of being able to, you know, use smart technology to see an increase in our noi, while also giving a resident and then a like it’s really turned into painkiller people are looking for ways that they can manage their properties more remotely without losing the resin engagement. And so it’s really kind of exciting times, even in kind of tragic times for some, but it’s exciting times for our kind of industry, because I think our value proposition has now come to be a necessity. And we’re happy to be there to kind of support that.
Lee Odess 4:33
Yeah, no, I would agree on the, you know, tragic times. And that it’s I think it’s a classic example, though sort of innovation through tragedy, and I happen to believe the difference here for a lot of us is that, you know, instead of this being some of the other innovation that we see go around us, we’re actually in the middle of it that’s happening and it’s a direct impact, whether it’s the commercial side multifamily really doesn’t matter. Everyone seems to be busy because of the need of these types of technologies that we saw that phase change happening beforehand. But now this is just the accelerant on that. Yeah. So on that. So if you’re to continue on with some of the technology side of it, the message that you and I went back and forth on LinkedIn was really around the idea around hubless. So can you talk a little bit about hubs in hubless? Because that isn’t, that’s like a pivotal point, believe it or not, I know, you know, this, but like, from the multifamily side, a lot of what goes on is really boils down to hubs.
Blake Miller 5:31
Yeah, I mean, for everybody, right, whether it’s single family, whether it’s, you know, in just your own home to in the in the multifamily large building setting. Like it all comes down to hubs, right, whether you have to figure out how to connect all the things. And so there’s a lot of different ways to go about it. We had our own hub for a while, there’s kind of a Bluetooth based that plugged into our Wi Fi network. But we started realizing that, hey, with our integration, we’ve partnered with Schlag to be able to provide a phone as the gateway, you didn’t need a hub to actually control the lock, the way we were doing that. And with some of our further integrations, we can manage every door that you need to be able to manage through our slack integration. So you didn’t need a hub just for our access platform. So that was kind of one step. And then the next step that that happened was we joined the T Mobile accelerator. So we’ve always taken a Wi Fi infrastructure approach to a building to be able to connect all the other things. So that’s what kind of is a little bit different than us in the market is that Wi Fi infrastructure, then powers all the smart things, whether it’s the thermostats, the light switches, appliances, or whatever it might be, but it also gives the property owners the ability to resell access to the Wi Fi as an amenity to the residents. So it becomes a multi use platform. And in doing that, we were essentially hubless as it is we didn’t need our own hub that we were putting in for kind of future purposes. And what we’ve now done in addition to the Wi Fi partnered with T Mobile to be able to bring cellular infrastructure in for buildings that have issues being able to get connected because of RF glass or something like that. So we can layer that in. But we also are able to Now tap the 5g network or specifically the narrowband IoT, and now working with devices that have that connectivity, like thermostats or light switches to be able to deploy without having to have a Wi Fi infrastructure. So we’ve taken this approach to say, Hey, you know, we can be completely humbled without an extra piece of cost, that was always going to hit that budget, but we can still give you some of the same outcomes through new technologies. And these are things that are just coming to market.
Lee Odess 7:46
So let me ask you that. So if we break down just a little bit on the technical side, so it could connect all the dots here.
Blake Miller 7:51
Lee Odess 7:51
So the specific on the lock side, this comes down to your phone, more or less, you said being the gateway, so it, and then locally, you still have that local connection, whether it might be Bluetooth, or whatever, it might be right to the lock. But, um, as far as you need to have an added piece where you may still have a gateway for the lock, but you don’t have to have your gateway. So how do we understand the topography.
Blake Miller 8:17
So yeah, for the lock itself, the phone is always the gateway, you know, traditionally, you would deploy, whether like its Schlage’s gateway, or something like that, to be able to talk to the lock when no one’s there, we use just the concept of virtual keys. Basically, you always have to have the Homebase app to be able to interact with the Bluetooth lock. But the Homebase app allows you to do that. And whether you’re granted access automatically as a resident or a staff member that’s supposed to be there, or you’re a guest or a vendor, you would get a virtual key, you’re always going to use the phone to get access into the building or into that unit itself.
Lee Odess 8:56
Okay, and then as far as I, you mentioned, NB IoT, which again, is all under the umbrella of 5g, but probably my opinion, and from good to hear what you’re saying is that a practical use of it in the access control side is going to be the NB IoT and of it that you have. So if you look at that, the question that everyone always has is like, How far away are we from having that type of stuff deployed? You know, you hear about it in like Singapore and other places. You don’t hear about it as much here other than, you know, commercials that talk about it broadly about latency and big, big things that, you know, I don’t know if, like, the average person understands what it means. But yeah, How far away are we from actually seeing that this type of technology implemented on a small term, but then even on the larger term?
Blake Miller 9:42
Yeah, so we’ll be testing some new devices and partners that we’re working with later this year on the actual platform and on the T Mobile, t mobile network. But we plan to be rolling these out, and projects in 2021. So it’s actually pretty near the technology’s new But we have partners that are rolling out new things, which is exciting.
Lee Odess 10:03
That’s very exciting. And I’m thrilled to hear that you guys are on the forefront of doing that, because it’s definitely from everything I’ve read. And I’ve seen, it’s definitely the direction that that people are going to go into. And the added value is going to be immense on that side, especially multi family where there’s just so many things right on top, yeah, items
that you need to have that,
Blake Miller 10:24
when we see a lot of times that a lot of folks just really want to do a lock in a thermostat, especially for a retrofit, you know, they don’t have a bunch of money sitting around for a cap x budget to be able to, you know, drop that unless they were doing a value add anyway, but they do know and recognize if they’re gonna get a lot of value out of a lockout thermostat in the problem is just how you gonna connect that thermostat, we solved the lock issue, how do you do that without real connectivity in the building? And how do you do it without a hub or anything like that? That’s where you have to go with the thermostats and like
Lee Odess 10:54
that? No, that makes sense. Um, so what do you think this means to things like z wave and some of the other technologies? Yeah,
Blake Miller 11:01
I’m not really sure. Like, I think there’s a lot of there’s going to be a place for a lot of different types of technologies. But I think a lot of things are going to see like, kind of, I think a lot of people talked about this, but it’s like the beta versus VHS type of type of play. You know, I think that there’s always been a place for some of those technologies. And they’ve been a bridge to getting us there. But I don’t see a lot of ZigBee or z wave type radios getting put into phones, right, but we are leaning on Bluetooth and Wi Fi more and more. So I do just think that that type of infrastructure is a little bit more ubiquitous. We view primarily that Wi Fi is really the fifth utility, and it needs to be in the building to provide that infrastructure. It’s harder to get it in retrofits, it’s not impossible, we do it on a day to day basis. And that’s where almost every new building that we’re doing and starts with Wi Fi, but you got to figure out how to bridge that gap and how you connect it. So, you know, I think that there’s a place I think that one of them will probably went out one of them will probably you know, fold and it just depends on the ecosystem, I think at the end of the day.
Lee Odess 12:05
Yeah, it’s certainly becoming even blurrier. You can see different groups working with different groups and the rest of it and like you said, I do think a lot of it’s driven by the phone. And that’s usually a good indicator of you know, what, what people are doing on that side. So I’m excited to see that, I guess if people want to find out more information on home base, but then also what’s going on with T Mobile and the work that you’re doing? Um, where’s the best place to go?
Blake Miller 12:29
Yeah, you can always find us at home. base.ai. And, you know, we’re pretty active there. We’re active on social media, you can find me in your comments, as well, usually. So,
Lee Odess 12:41
yeah, not done in a troll way. But yeah, my loving my dad is a classic stuff, my dog is in the room. Perfect. And that should depend to do with him. But anyways, but yeah, you’re not in a troll way. And value added way. So which is much appreciated, and always is so thank you, Blake, I really appreciate it. No, this is great. I’m excited to see the progress you all made. excited to see in 2021 when the service rolls out, and then we’ll see also just between now and the end of the year, you know, hopefully things in society turn a corner. And we can all sort of get back to work and, and learn from the stuff that’s gone on. But then also just, you know, try try to get through this. So
Blake Miller 13:20
try to get through it.
Lee Odess 13:21
I hear you so well. I appreciate it. Blake. Thanks. As always, it’s great to catch up and see.
Blake Miller 13:27
Lee, welcome to the Future Living podcast, man, I’m so glad to finally have you on how are you?
Lee Odess 13:32
I’m great. Thanks for the opportunity to be here. It’s I’m excited to do it. I’ve been a fan of it for for a while, even before we knew each other.
Blake Miller 13:39
Thank you, man, I really, really appreciate that. So since I obviously know who you are, and kind of a lot of your background, but our listeners don’t give everybody a little bit of your background. I love what you’re doing right now with inside access control and all of that. But you kind of you’ve seen how the entire access industry and really, really like the building industry has really come along over the year. So it really kind of introduce yourself and let everybody know who you are.
Lee Odess 14:08
Now, I appreciate the opportunity. So I’ll go in the, I guess, the Wayback Machine to about 20 years ago, man, I feel like an old man. But now for that I cut my teeth at a school at Lutron electronics and was into lighting control business and I bring it up because it’s sort of set me on a path I believe. I came into an industry that was dominated by electrical contractors, a lot of wired products, and I happen to join Lutron right when they they introduced a wireless lighting control system. And through that was taught, I would say the fundamentals of sort of, you know, where markets are going and a lot of ways and went out to an entire group of people that you know, didn’t necessarily want the technology but then users did so I was there for a while then did a bunch of stuff. Little startups here and there. Started My own. It’s called energy light control of my wife, which was an integration company. We did audio video lighting control, some solar system, some systems and some security. Sold that then I worked for brivo that’s how I got into the access control industry. Yeah. Was there through the sale, left there went down to uni key and Orlando tried to go hit a home run with a startup company and that
Blake Miller 15:25
we originally met, I think, Yeah,
Lee Odess 15:27
I think so. That might have been where it was. Yeah, cuz we
Blake Miller 15:30
were Andrew Thomas got us connected. Ah,
Lee Odess 15:33
yeah, yes, that is exactly yeah. That’s the guy. So it’s funny. I bet you he’s like Kevin Bacon of being
Blake Miller 15:42
one of the oh geez. He’s one of Oh, geez. For sure. Good, dude. Really great people. Good connector.
Lee Odess 15:47
Yeah. So did the Unity thing then wanted to move back to the DC area where I’m at now and joined the Legion was there for a couple years did their partnership programs and had a team and then so I’m going quick on it because now it’s all good. I bopped around a handful here and there. But uh, and then lately, the one I did now is January started, what is a consulting company called group 337. We’re working with companies that are looking for growth, initiatives in the access control smartlock space. And then at the same time, I was doing a newsletter that I just write about sort of where I think things are going and trying to have a point of view. And then a was interesting was started interviewing people I knew but like mics and lights and did the whole thing was like, Hey, I’m gonna give this a shot. Then COVID happens. Industry show shuts down next, you know? Yeah. And you were one of the early guys. I had 25 or so podcast interviews, and I started putting them out daily, and it got sponsored by the security industry. Fast forward a little bit there. We have three websites now. We’re doing about six podcasts. We’ve got two newsletters and in our creating content, so it’s like a media platform.
Blake Miller 17:08
Yeah, it’s great. But yeah,
Lee Odess 17:09
so that’s our focus. The idea, we have our niches of the industry around access control and security that somewhat overlap, but are still enough, if you took like the Seth Godin belief of the tribe, where you have like 1000 people, you have a brace, I looked at the industry and thought, I don’t think this is going to be like millions of people. But I do think it’s very passionate group of like a cottage industry of people that if you create some good content, good information, I also think there needs to be a platform and a place for voices of the industry versus just manufacturers. And you know, call it a good perfect storm of a, you know, a bad situation where something came out. Um, that’s where I think I’m at currently right now.
Blake Miller 17:53
Well, I love it. And this, I want to dig in there and really kind of unbundle that, if you will. And I’m going to use that a couple times pun intended. But like what I love so much around what you’re doing is what I’ve recognized is there’s like a generational shift happening and you are like bridging the gap with this kind of immediate empires I was giving you crap on your on your podcast, but you know, you are kind of breaking it down for everybody. Here’s this whole access control industry, which if you have been no idea coming into it hits across many different divisions and things and getting a building connected and different, whether it’s multifamily or commercial, or all these different things. And what you’ve kind of done with inside access control start to kind of break it out or unbundle all these different verticals or features within and so what are you hitting and how you see these different and why is it? Sure?
Lee Odess 18:45
And yeah, I mean, it’s really based off of some basic fundamentals. And at least where I’m at is a big heavy appetite for curiosity, of, you know, like, like these inspirations on our piano run and be like, Oh, these things come together. Let me let’s talk about it and create a, a conversation really around some of these ideas. And I do believe like you said, there’s phase changes were already happening in the industry where things are going more mobile technology based, human centric design, you pick your topic, ai big data, all right, yeah. And then it gets escalated because of what was happening with the COVID impacts, which really accelerated a lot of those face changes. And then now you have an industry, whether it’s commercial real estate multifamily, that are starting to pay more attention to it. So you have these two bridges, right, and then put on top of that, you’ve got a bunch of startups and money coming into space, you have people that are questioning the common practices of our industry. And that ability, like you said, the bridge the old and the new and it’s not like a I try to do it in a way that’s not saying you know, the old socks and the new is good? No, it’s like, there’s a lot of really good nield there’s an evolution that needs to happen. And I think through good storytelling and conversation and having point of views, I think that we can actually help push this along farther and better than it would be if people came in. Like, I always joke about, you know, if it’s a startup, it’s like, how many Stanford grads? Can you throw at it? And like, they, you know, they, they bought, they walk into like, Man, this channel’s difficult, you’re like, yeah, you didn’t need to waste a year to figure that out. And then you have the guide, which is like, Hey, I don’t tell me, I’m not a Stanford Graduate, I figure that out. I shouldn’t do an air quotes. But, um, and then you have a whole industry that, you know, I would say, in some cases, either feels challenged, or not appreciated, or, frankly, kind of wants to keep it cottage, and controlled. And, and you get, you get friction that’s created. So I’m trying to eliminate the friction and say, let’s all talk, let’s think about things maybe a little bit different. And I think we can move it along a lot faster.
Blake Miller 21:09
What’s so interesting to me, I think you’re the one that told me this, but you know, access control is basically a database, right? Like, you’re trying to figure this out. But what’s become so fast, or it’s been thought that way for so long, is now is the end user experience, and how that relates to who’s coming and going, like, how does this become like I’ve always looked at access. And it’s surprising to me that people haven’t really seen this within the industry, it seems like some maybe do is access is literally like, it’s the building operating system, and everything’s built around it. Why is that becoming so much the case? And why? Why do you summon some people in industry not see that hurt?
Lee Odess 21:48
Yeah, because I think so if you go way back all the way back to like, not joking here, but like, the caveman times, right, where they put boulders in front of doors to keep bad people out, right? That’s the essence of our industry, it was built off of that idea of around protection and safety. And it’s about security. And it’s primarily been about keeping bad people out. So you put up barriers and things like that. And a way to control it in a lot of ways was identity was given to the person which was you’re given a card, the end user, the consumer, that’s all you had. And really the people that our systems were built for, were the installers who set the systems up, and the administrators that did the admin the systems, and then the end, users would just get the cards and as long as it worked, you didn’t have to worry about them. So fast forward a little bit, you have things like mobile, and you have new people that are coming in to the space saying, you know, I want to have convenience, as well, and technology. And they’re really challenging. Some of the things we’re before our industry, the whole idea around convenience was, if it was convenient, it was probably insecure. So right, you purposely put barriers up to keep people out, right. So that’s what that’s where you get some friction between the two, then you have health comes in with COVID. Now you have another part of it, where the systems that we have before that we’re kind of out of the way unless something bad happened, or now trying to help make people have awareness to be safe, healthy, you know, density reports, on touch list, not grabbing things. So like we’re part of now this bigger value proposition. And what’s interesting to me is reason why I think access control also gets a lot of attention is it’s one of the only things that go in, that are like a must have. And it also drives adoption. Like, I could maybe ignore, you know, the, I don’t know, latte ordering tenant experience application. But if I have to use this thing to get into the building, I’m going to use it. So right, that’s usually where people end up going is like, I’m gonna go get access control built into this. So that people the usability of my application goes up, and then I’m going to wrap around features around it. The issue there that you run into in that case is that a lot of the historical systems that we have or never set up for that use case now. Right? So they don’t have the API is maybe, maybe in some cases, they don’t want to even do it, because again, that seems a little bit insecure to the system. So they fight it. But that’s why I think it seemed as the backbone In my opinion, though, it’s actually a feature of this operating system that you’re talking to, but right now, because it’s one of the stickiest parts, it becomes the centerpiece.
Blake Miller 24:40
Totally. And that’s the interesting thing that I think is being kind of the the tech innovator that would that’s coming into this industry. I didn’t nothing about it, and I thought, we’ll just sell smart locks to apartment owners and they’d be like, yeah, totally, we’re in until I realized that like, well, there’s like 13 different people that actually touch That door going into that new building or, you know, however, you’re going to manage all these different things, right? And so seeing this and wondering, like, you know, are locks just going to become a feature or of a greater building operating system or something like that? Or, you know, do they literally unlock, like the one thing that you’re doing, which is managing four walls and a roof, and who can come and go, when they can come and go have the different types of buildings can now be managed all with under one roof? And then seeing what that smart access can actually then enable in terms of that remote management? Those sorts of things?
Lee Odess 25:39
Yeah, I mean, my take on that is, you know, in these forums, we always, also, I think, it’s fair to, for us to say is, we always talk high level sort of binary, it’s either this or that, but there’s always gray in between, uh, you know, you could argue half of the things I say, with examples, but talking in a broad scale, I actually think, yes, the lock, in my opinion, there’s some table stakes stuff that it does, like, it has to be secure and safe. And I do think that you do have some gadgets that have come into the space that maybe don’t do that, as well. And I do think over time, those those will get
Blake Miller 26:12
things like that when like, what do you mean by that?
Lee Odess 26:14
Uh, meaning, like locks that aren’t built real? Well, or, you know, don’t have,
Blake Miller 26:20
you know, there’s really, there’s so many locks out there right now,
Lee Odess 26:22
right? Like, it’s, it’s insane on how many there are in, you know, there are some standards and things like that, that I think would be well advised for people to actually care more about in some, some do and apply them. So like bH ma ratings, and you can look up what those are, and maybe I’ll put them in show notes in that. But like there’s, you know, fire ratings and things like that, that these are like, sorry about that.
Blake Miller 26:47
Right? Like there’s a life safety products, right. And that’s exactly right. But, you know, there’s a lot of competitors popping up in our space, and they’re just using these residential base smart locks to try to grow really fast, because they’re cheaper and, and all these things in this in the multifamily industry and those, they don’t meet code, they, they break down a lot, they create issues, and, you know, they might have 10 codes on that basically is like giving out your passcode you know, all these different things.
Lee Odess 27:17
Yeah, I think those things will catch up to themselves, I believe this is I think, when you have sort of the the hyper acceleration of getting into the marketplace, and, you know, tools get used inappropriately in a lot of places. But I think, as things level out, that’s why I like to think of it as the sort of the hype cycle, right, where you get all these people that get into it really high, and then at some point, it drops down a little bit, it won’t be back to normal of work, things are out, but the watermark will be a bit higher. And I think that fat between the two of them, people that either flash in the pan using that the right stuff. But to be fair to, I actually celebrated a little bit, because I think it puts pressure on the norm that we used to have before where there wasn’t necessarily this push or desire to actually accelerate some of the innovation that is needed also. Because if you think about it, a lot of the locks that existed on the marketplace for a long time, didn’t support the software centric solutions like that you want I mean, you know, you and I’ve been through this like six or seven times. But like, how hard it is to get companies to get on board with the idea of supporting software centric solutions. So like the paradigm shift, change of the mind, where it’s like, this lock software forever was actually built to motorize it right, and now you’re looking to do a whole bunch of other stuff that it wasn’t necessarily built for. So that only takes time. And frankly, in my opinion, to get to the point where it’s where it’s built properly.
Blake Miller 28:50
Well, it takes time that sure. And you know, where I’ve seen a lot of stuff too, and we’ve talked about is, is then the business model has to change, right? Because right now, you know, it’s you got this caused this big capex costs, you know, it’s gonna be one thing, if you’re putting it in a new building, you’re gonna have to spend that anyway. But to retrofit, it’s a cap x. And then you got to figure out how to I pay for it monthly, or, or whatever. And you’ve got the software that’s bringing it all together companies like us at home base, but then you’ve got the manufacturers, companies like schlager, companies like eco B, that are now trying to figure out what we sold the thing and now we’ve got to support the thing, how do we or support the software? How do we do that? How are How are? How’s the industry thinking about those things?
Lee Odess 29:36
Yeah, I think they’re they’re there. It’s like, the way they’re thinking about his arm wrestling with it at this point. So I think he has some pressures. So if I’m, you know, the thermostat companies or lock companies, all of them, if you think about it, so they built that lock, they built that thermostat, whatever it was based off of a financial analysis that was done, I don’t know 510 years ago. That was really based off of hardware sales. So they have, you know, margins they have to meet, there’s cost associated expenses in the rest, right? It was built with a a plan that didn’t include No offense, you injure, right? Or like you, right? So you’re, there’s a, there’s an entire shift in the way that these things need to get paid for. Now, to be fair to them. There’s also a cost that now is being introduced, that wasn’t also thought about or appreciated or figured out, like, how are we going to pay for this thing? Right, so. So that’s a long way of me saying there’s reasons why. But I agree with you that we always in our in the industry, and I think in the technology industry, we want to solve every problem with technology, when in some cases, this might actually just be a business problem. And taking new business models and to apply them to this might break open an entire new universe, if you would, to wear those pressures of the people that are selling like cheap locks, or, you know, cheap thermostats or whatever it might be that that you may find out that the people that make the robust stuff, if they just tweak their models a little bit and got, I think, a little bit more curious into the methods, maybe had some courage into the longer tail. Right, that that they may find out in the end, that actually has returned a much greater return than they were getting with the traditional model. But I think the difference is, I wrote something a long time ago called the devil, you know, versus the devil, you don’t know. Yeah, a lot of these places you’re not allowed to not, you’re not allowed to participate with the W don’t know. And that that to me. And again, if I’m sorry, I go on a tangent here, but I love it that also then I think the main driver, the base behind all this are human beings. And it’s the actual sort of emotional intelligence and self awareness to take a step back and pure, like human behavior and just understanding all that the psychology to have to take the risk. And to do those things to trust maybe in some cases. I think it boils down to that it has nothing to do with someone having a blue blink your light and somebody else.
Blake Miller 32:19
Yeah, no, I agree. I mean, and the thing is, is like you’re seeing this, it you got to when it comes down the business mother dollars and cents is you’ve got the you’ve got multiple divisions that go into getting a complete access solution, let alone then a video surveillance, all these different things that all add up to one big budget. And then there’s only so much operating expense budget to go around for property as I’m speaking specifically for, you know, commercial world. So how do you make it all work? You know, do you put together it all into one service plan or finance at all? We’ve seen, I saw brivo just recently announced a financing deal, you know, today. Yeah, so it’s just like, it’s interesting to see these different types of models coming around, because you only have so much that you can charge unless you can guarantee savings, like some of these, like LED, you know, financing deals.
Lee Odess 33:16
Yeah. My thought on this is that I think we’re going through a weird teen tween age right now where I think a couple things have to happen. I do think there needs to be some consolidation, like right now, to bring one solution to the market. There’s like 16 people involved, and everybody’s got to eat. And when everybody’s got to eat, it makes it way, way, way too expensive in the end for somebody, right. So I think if we’re being honest that that has a lot to do with it currently right now, right?
Blake Miller 33:44
Yeah, your dad told me I get it. Right. Right. Kind of on that, like one of the best things. Actually, the probably the best advice I got a long time. He’s like, you got to figure out what industry you want to disrupt first, like, just get you got to accept some of these things and just realize that this has been going on for a long time. This way.
Lee Odess 34:01
Yeah. So I think it was last week’s newsletter I did to one of the things that I I started thinking about was, so a lot of people listen to Scott Galloway. Professor Galloway right there. He talks about the Rundle on that in if you think about that he was listening to one of his presentations, and he had some interesting thing of like, why doesn’t Nike get with Lulu lemon which gets with somebody else? Yeah. And across sector sort of bundles of products that go right? Where it makes me think like, if you think about the ecosystem in partnership way that we do things currently right now, it’s still pretty siloed by there’s connectors at the top, but then like, you go an inch deep and it’s silos all over the place. Right? Absolutely. We’re makes you wonder like if I took that top area of partnership, which is high level, predominantly, mainly technical, that’s it. Yeah. If I was in then like a sliver of market If I was to expand that even more, and basically look at it as an entire unit that went through, and maybe on this one, you don’t make as much as the next one the rest, but can I think about like, could you dominate that area by doing that? So I wonder sometimes like, are incumbents going to go work with some startups? And do that incumbents working with other incumbents? If I’m a venture backed startup, do I go get, you know, six of my buddies that are also because your your metrics are a little bit different than, you know, incumbents metrics? So can they stomach that? You know, gross? Like, I don’t know, it makes me think that that goes back to the business model area that I don’t think it’s going to be just a math problem or technical, I think it’s a business structure business model that has to come along with it. And sorry, another tangent here a lot. I also think the guest has to change their expectations. Right? Like, like, there, there needs to be, I think, an appreciation in some due to the benefits. And maybe it’s bad storytelling by undersea, because we haven’t told them, like the value creation story enough. But I also think the, the people receiving the information need to look at these things beyond them just being utility. Yeah, and looking at all of the value that they can create, whether it’s marketing, you know, its its retention, you know, yeah, factor all that stuff.
Blake Miller 36:26
I totally agree. And there’s all those things that play into it. The other piece of it, though, is their side of it is broken, right, unless they’re owning and managing their properties on their own, whether it’s office space, or multifamily, whatever it is, they’ve got a third party property manager, and if they’ve got these things that, you know, help them manage a property more efficiently, it’s going to save in the property management, that property management company doesn’t usually give those rewards in those savings back right to digital transformation. It gets them to take out of their underwriting costs that it takes to manage a property with X amount of maintenance people or something. But now they don’t have to because there’s there is no smart locks. Are there is no lockouts because of smart locks, or anything like that. It’s a total shift in that that thinking?
Lee Odess 37:14
Yeah, I mean, that, again, that shifting your thinking, maybe there’s some consolidation that end as well? Yeah, I think there’s a whole that’s, that’s what’s exciting about the current period that we’re in right now. Because it’s, we’re literally flying the plane while building it and a lot of ways and there isn’t like a period where we can just say, like, stop, and like everyone stands still. And they let’s figure it out now. So it’s gonna be awkward for a little bit.
Blake Miller 37:40
Yeah. And what’s exciting though, is there’s so many great competitors and lots of different kind of takes in the market across so many different kind of niches that it’s making it a very, like, front and center mainstream, like, Matt, like see change happening. Pretty exciting. Absolutely. Dude, this has been awesome conversation. We’re running out of time, but I’ve got some lightning round questions that I’ve been dying to ask you. So the first one my favorite one is, what business or service is going to be obsolete in the next 10 years. Who’s the next blockbuster?
Lee Odess 38:17
What business and service will be obsolete in the next 10 years?
Blake Miller 38:21
Lee Odess 38:23
obsolete or service? Man? You caught me off guard on that one. Trying to think so I guess if I if I was going to take a look at. I mean, if I could be fair, I’ll put I’ll be a homer pick. Okay. Yeah. I actually think the mechanical lock business is at some point, this idea where we have these categories of smart locks, connect locks and rest. I think the technology gets so inexpensive and easy to implement. and the value store is so great, that you could actually see cost drive down to where I could see a day where, you know, we’re currently right now, let’s say majority are still mechanical. I think it flips on that end. So I could I could see that within the next five year I could see somebody in our industry, making a bold statement and just saying no more mechanical, everything has some aspect of technology inside of it, whether it’s pulling data out, or it’s actually full on motorized and a full on foot, but it will you will be able to get a technology lock that has smarts inside of it. Hundred percent
Blake Miller 39:37
does is one of the big No, no. Trying to figure out exactly how it’s gonna phase out. I totally agree. I mean, I’ll be Sam over on that too. And my follow up question to that is does one of the big like tech companies end up buying one of these massive lock companies like a legion or Asa boy or somebody like that? Do they make it just a total feature of their service? Is this Walmart consolidate? Does Amazon consolidate?
Lee Odess 40:06
I don’t I don’t think so. I mean, I can see them offering the products themselves in some respect or OEM it, but I don’t, I think for a lot of reason whether you know it the mark that mark, it’s not necessarily big enough for them to do it, right. Like, you get to those companies. And these got to be billion dollar like big. Like, I just, I don’t think so frankly, and that and I do think that partnerships get tighter solutions start to get more custom if you were to purposeful built on that end, guy. Um, but I don’t I don’t see one of them doing that, frankly.
Blake Miller 40:46
What, uh, what platform will kind of reign supreme in the future? Like, obviously, the phone changed everything and create it create everything voices reign supreme, what’s what what sort of thing? Really, is that next platform over the next 10 years?
Lee Odess 41:04
Yeah, I think like, just discoverable type, you know, I, I’m looking forward. And I don’t know if the technology what the technology is going to be. There’s a whole bunch that are out there currently now trying to be it. But I really believe this sort of plug and play aspect of products across platform that are discoverable in the rest, like, like we as an industry, and as an, you know, a technology industry have done a disservice to the customers to that where we’ve had to make them decide and figure out, you know, religious wars around is it ZigBee, or Z wave or what, like, whatever it might be. That’s nonsense, in my opinion. And so I think we grow up a bit more on that end. And if we don’t, someone’s going to make us whether it’s the big tech companies, or, you know, it’s big, you know, let’s say on the multifamily side, big, big owners that just make selections and say you either have to do this, or you’re not participating anymore. I’m not putting up with this. But I I feel like that whoever does that. And I do think that will happen. At some point, I think that that’s going to drive and it shifts, again, I think that those things don’t matter anymore. And I think that would be whether it’s mobile, whether it’s a lock a thermostat, you want to bring a computer in, I don’t care what it is, again, as these things become more connected, they get more cloud oriented. You know, there’s, there’s a handful of operating systems that will, you know, handle a lot of the localized type type stuff. I think the Hokey Pokey dance that all the homeowners and all of the installers have to do to configure that all goes away. I think
Fingers crossed, fingers crossed on that we’ll see.
I don’t know who it’s gonna be. But I’m encouraged by it
Blake Miller 42:51
definitely seems like a lot of work, work heading that way. We’ve talked a lot about technology’s changing everything, changing the access industry, changing how we build buildings, what’s something that it’s not going to change?
Lee Odess 43:03
I do believe you’re going to still need installers and somebody to put it in. I know everybody talks about that, that’s going to go away. But you talked earlier before, there’s code requirements, it’s life safety. And I, you know, I think the way products get distributed might change. But I think this expertise in a trade, I don’t think it’s going to go away. You know, I think, you know, cost per door type stuff goes away, down, not away, but down. I think different business models get introduced. You know, I think there’s a lot of things that morfitt, but having a trade that that understands, you know, when things go bad, or how to make things consistent. And that skill set, I think that that’s going to be around for a while.
Blake Miller 43:50
So we’ve got a lot of folks that are listening, that are thinking about, you know, the next type of buildings that they’re building, or even figuring out what you know, value out of ways to retrofit their buildings, using kind of smart technology. What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give them right now guy, there’s post COVID, trying to figure out what happens next world?
Lee Odess 44:09
Yeah, get real curious, and have somebody internally be your center of excellence, if you would have this. I wouldn’t outsource all of it to anybody. Because there’s so much information, so many more companies, it’s only going to get worse, if you would, that having a level of somebody internally that is the owner of that type of information. And I would I would roll it into however your organization set up. It’s an important piece, this is not a feature anymore. So just like you know, you handle some other things within your, your buildings and the way you make selections and the way the things you prioritize. I would prioritize this way up there and I don’t know if it’s a, you know, again, different people have different structures but The the idea of having a statement where you’re like, Well, I didn’t know. It’s I don’t think the the that you’re going to be allowed to do that anymore.
Blake Miller 45:11
We tell everybody how they can find you online. I’ll make sure it’s on the show notes as well. No, I appreciate it.
Lee Odess 45:16
LinkedIn is a great way to get me. You know, to LinkedIn and Lee Odess is there. Twitter @lodess is another good way. You can email me at Lee@group337.com or text message me, 2029998180 I think it’s a good way to communicate for some people happy to do it that way too.
Blake Miller 45:37
Absolutely. It’s good. You’re always got great advice. Lee. Thanks so much. It’s such a great conversation.
Lee Odess 45:43
Hey, Blake, always good to see about it.
Future of Living is run by Homebase. Homebase brings the smart apartment experience to new build and retrofit multifamily with trusted technology that delivers intuitive building access control with smart locks, automation of property management, new revenue with property-wide WiFi, and IoT technology amenities residents enjoy. All completely installed and managed for the multifamily innovation leaders of this decade.