On this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, Rex Kurzius, CEO and Founder of Asset Panda, joins Ryan Chacon to discuss asset management’s current state and future. Rex kicks things off by going in-depth on the industry’s current state and then dives into how IoT contributes to asset management and why asset management and tracking differ. Rex then moves to the industry’s business side and discusses what his clients are looking for and the hurdles he’s seen for companies adopting the tech. To wrap up the podcast, Rex gives advice for adopters and insight into what he’s looking forward to in the industry the most.
Rex Kurzius is the Founder/CEO of Asset Panda. Rex is an award-winning Entrepreneur and sought-after speaker, whose passion for helping the world work smarter, inspires us all to not only think outside the box but to imagine that the box does not exist. He is a visionary who draws on experience and insight from the experts he surrounds himself with to push the boundaries of how a company should operate. His leadership has propelled Asset Panda’s tremendous growth, taking the company closer to the top year after year. His sight is set on ensuring that Asset Panda dominates the SaaS sector helping the world’s organizations efficiently manage their assets.
Interested in connecting with Rex? Reach out on Linkedin!
About Asset Panda
Founded in 2012, Asset Panda is a powerful and flexible cloud-based asset management platform designed to help the world work smarter. The platform is designed with flexibility, allowing Asset Panda to be configured to work the way the user does for any company. The company is committed to providing its customers outstanding customer service and a constantly improving product.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(02:12) Introduction to Rex and Asset Panda
(04:13) Current state of asset management
(07:35) What IoT contributes to asset management
(10:30) Asset management vs asset tracking
(12:14) What are their clients looking for
(15:28) Biggest hurdles in asset management adoption
(21:08) Advice for adopters of asset management
– [Rex] So we see IoT as fundamentally shaping, reshaping the way things are tracked and managed going forward. In the past, it was a human to machine interaction. So the human had to say, “I checked the calibration on this machine. This was the temperature, this is the vibration point,” et cetera, et cetera. Now the machines have a voice, and that data goes somewhere, and that data needs to be managed efficiently. So as we look at where Asset Panda fits, we wanna be in the tech stack, and we wanna be the place where all the data, the source of truth, where all the data, from IoT or human derived, goes in order to embed it into the workflows and the actions of the people that are actually doing their job.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast, the number one publication and resource for the Internet of Things. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon. If you’re watching this on YouTube, we truly appreciate it if you give this video a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel if you’ve not done so already. If you’re listening to us on a podcast directory like Apple Podcasts, please subscribe, so you have the latest episodes as soon as they are out. All right, on today’s episode we have Rex Kurzius, CEO and Founder of Asset Panda. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Asset Panda, they are a company that is focused on building a powerful, flexible, cloud-based asset managing platform to help the world work smarter, help you find things and track things in a much better and more efficient way. So we talk about the current state of asset management, leading technologies and use cases in the space, the future of IoT when it comes to asset management, new use cases we see kind of come down the pipe, tech that’s gonna be helpful in those developments of new use cases. When people talk about asset management and asset tracking, what do they mean, what’s the difference? Is there a difference? And then also challenges when it comes to asset management adoption and how to overcome them. So fantastic episode, Rex is a great guest. I think you’ll get a lot of value out of this, but before we get into it, if you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor, Leverege. Leverege’s IoT solutions development platform, provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com. That’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All Podcast. Welcome Rex, to the IoT For All Podcast. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Rex] Yeah, I appreciate you having me, Ryan. Thank you.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, yeah. I’ve been looking forward to this since we got it scheduled and I wanted to kick it off by just having you give a quick introduction about yourself and the company to our audience.
– [Rex] Sure, yeah. So I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’ve started, built, and sold several companies. The idea for Asset Panda by and large was basically, it came out of another business I started. It was an IT consulting business that went from startup to 300 employees, and we started losing a lot of equipment, and it was very frustrating. We were using QuickBooks, and that was the industry standard for SMBs for accounting. It professed to have a fixed asset tracking module, and for whatever reason, it wasn’t working for us. And when I talked to my managers, we started to learn that most of the people out in the field were using Excel spreadsheets, and those spreadsheets weren’t getting updated in a timely manner. And one of the big issues with accounting systems is that accountants use the system and not the people that necessarily are tracking the assets. So that was one of the first points of inspiration. We wanted to fix a problem for, you know, our own company. And then, I like to use techniques like mind mapping when I look at different business ideas and I mind map the problem I had as an SMB, we were about a 20, $25 million business. And so we had this issue, what other people would have this issue? So I created mind maps around the concept of delivering equipment to third parties. And it turned out that a lot of those workflows in the same needs, were really derived in that industry as well. And then we also did it for the consumer in their home. And we found that roughly 80% of all the gyrations around asset tracking were very common. And it didn’t matter if you were an IT director or a, you know, someone that was delivering equipment. So we thought there would be kind of an interesting, untapped market opportunity here if we were to create a platform essentially that allowed companies to map their own workflows and actions to help them keep better track of their assets. And that was the genesis of Asset Panda, that’s why we started it, and it still holds true today.
– [Ryan] And so tell me a little bit about kinda how you view the current state of kind of the asset management industry landscape. You know, what are the technologies that are really leading the way? How far has it really come even since you started Asset Panda until where we are now? Yeah, let’s start there.
– [Rex] Yeah, so the industry, you know, it’s not a new industry. It’s been around for a long time and people have been tracking things they own for, you know, property tax insurance reasons or just management reasons. But there has been an evolution over the last, I would call it 10 to 15 years, where people, they got pretty good at tracking things via spreadsheet, but then a spreadsheet model has issues in and of itself. So you’ve seen best of breed applications start to come to the surface. And the biggest driving factor that it has essentially changed technology is, you know, these smartphones that we all carry. You know, essentially 10 years ago, 12 years ago, when I was first thinking about this industry, a lot of the incumbent vendors, their whole business model is mainly predicated on selling people hardware to track assets. So they’re high speed mini computers, that sort of thing, that would do high speed scanning. And the bet that we were making early on in Asset Panda is that Google and Apple, the dominant phone makers, would basically get a lot better at scanning barcodes. And the first version of our technology was iPhone 3. You know, it kind of dates me a little bit, but yeah, you could technically scan a barcode, but the light had to be perfect and there was no auto focus. So we’ve seen a massive improvement in the ability for the devices the employees are already carrying to do their job. The other thing that we’ve seen is a change in the way that companies manage their internal projects. It used to be like 20 years ago, if we were selling an application like Asset Panda, it’d be a very traditional process. We would contact the company in a specific industry, we would target different personas within that, and then we would go through a procurement process, and at the end of the procurement process, you either win or you don’t win the deal. Well, one of the things that we saw was the adaption of technology related to fixing specific problems or projects that mid-level managers had were being moved away from a decentralized procurement process and moving into a just-in-time, “Hey, let’s fix this problem; what resources are there available,” that we can maybe buy over the phone on a credit card or on the internet that can solve the problem that we have? So if you look at a lot of our big customers, a lot of them have obviously accounting systems, ERP systems, some of ’em profess to do elements of what we do, but where we really excel is mapping the exact workflow to the exact issue that the manager has and then tying back into the other systems, either through a CSV or a direct API connection. So we’ve seen the industry mature quite a bit. The other thing that we see now is, you know, IoT is basically, you know, it’s like an earthquake that’s rattling the earth in terms of how we interact with the machines that we use to get our work done on a daily basis. And we see that as a big pivotal factor and probably the most exciting opportunity that we have at Asset Panda.
– [Ryan] Yeah, let me ask you about that. So, you know, we’ve kind of been focusing on the asset management side of things and the growth you’ve seen from starting Asset Panda to where you are now. When you mention IoT, talk about what IoT enables and contributes to take asset management to that next level, like what does that future look like? Which IoT technologies are really pushing that forward? And at the same time, I’d be curious to hear, which use cases are you really seeing kind of jump up as the leaders when it comes to IoT asset management?
– [Rex] Sure. So we see IoT as fundamentally shaping reshaping the way things are tracked and managed going forward. In the past, it was a human to machine interaction. So the human had to say, “I checked the calibration on this machine, this was the temperature, this is the vibration point,” et cetera, et cetera. Now the machines have a voice, and that data goes somewhere, and that data needs to be managed efficiently. So as we look at where Asset Panda fits, we wanna be in the tech stack, and we wanna be the place where all the data, the source of truth, where all the data, from IoT or human derived, goes in order to embed it into the workflows and the actions of the people that are actually doing their job. So we see basically anything that’s created of value within technology has some kind of IoT component to it. Even if it’s just as simple as a connection, a wifi connection to the internet. We see the ability to track things moving in a much more granular level. You know, we’ve talked to oil and gas companies for example, that say they don’t track anything that goes on a rig unless it’s $50,000 or more. That’s aggressive. Now you might have government entities that might have said 1,000, $2,000 in the past, but we think that number’s gonna get continually driven down where you can take things that aren’t necessarily that expensive, but it won’t cost you that much more to track it. And part of it has to do with new technologies and tracking from the actual barcodes that are being put or the devices that are being put on the pieces of equipment that can generate information, whether it’s NFC or directly with a Bluetooth connection. There’s a lot of really, really interesting technology there. As a mainstream consumer, I think a lot of people probably see Apple AirTags and they see the benefit of being able to put in one of those things in your luggage so you can track your own luggage and don’t have to worry about the airline. We see that sort of thing in that technology getting smaller and smaller, more efficient and more energy efficient. So it can provide a longer term signal on a relatively inert object. So we see the opportunity really expanding pretty dramatically as those technologies become perfected.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s been a very interesting space to follow. So I wanted to ask you a question because I feel like I’ve talked to people on the podcast before, and they oftentimes use asset management and asset tracking kinda interchangeably, but from the brief conversation we’ve had so far, it sounds like there is potentially a different way to really be thinking about it as two different things that may work together, obviously, but they have their own kind of place. And I’d love it if you could kind of explain from your perspective, kind of how do you view asset management versus asset tracking? Are they one and the same? Are they different, and so forth?
– [Rex] Yeah, no, I appreciate your comments and I think you’re spot on. I think in some ways they’re very similar, in a lot of ways very different. And if you look at asset tracking, just knowing where an object is or where a piece of equipment is, that’s one thing. But knowing whether or not that piece of equipment has been used efficiently or not is another. So tracking and actually managing throughout the entire life cycle of the asset is a critically, in my opinion, it’s a critically important part of actually maintaining an asset registry and understanding what you have, where it is, what condition it’s in, and is it being used efficiently into its best ability. And we see that as something that’s gonna change pretty radically over time where companies get a lot more information and they can predict the types of issues they’re gonna have within their own asset classes, and they can, you know, build, whether it be predictive maintenance or calibration or inspection services that happen before a fault happens within the application itself. And then we think companies can put a lot of money down on the bottom line just by reducing waste and wasted spend.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. Yeah, it’s like I said, it’s super interesting to kind of talk about it and explore where this is going. I feel like when I’ve looked at the different use cases that have been leading the way, a lot of them are kind of in line with asset tracking, asset management. To your point earlier about, you know, the customer in the oil and gas space is only tracking anything that’s over 50,000, which like you said is kind of aggressive. There is a threshold I feel like companies have as to what makes sense to kind of apply this solution to. Out of curiosity, when you work with companies and talk to companies, what do you feel like, what are they really looking for as from an ROI perspective, and I’m sure it could be many different things, but just generally, is there a common thread with companies coming to you looking to adopt an asset management solution and what they’re really looking to get out of it at the end of the day to improve what they’re doing? ‘Cause, and the reason I’m asking, is ’cause I feel like, you know, there are a lot of companies that are actively looking for solutions and then there are a lot of companies that just feel like they need to check the box to say, “Hey, we’re looking at IoT or we’re looking into digital transformation,” kind of as a technology group. But I’m curious, what your experience has been like in those engagements with companies, and kind of what the pulse is in those conversations.
– [Rex] So it’s interesting that you say that because when we try to pre-screen leads coming in, we wanna know what their motivation is. Did the boss tell you you get a system? Are you on spreadsheets? Did you lose something recently? And it gives us a little bit of a roadmap into, you know, how to structure a demo, that is, you know, important and relevant to the people that we’re talking to. So it just depends on who you’re talking to, what the motivation is. You know, for us we see that the single, and this sounds a little counterintuitive, but bear with me for a second. The single most important benefit of asset tracking isn’t necessarily the loss and the tracking of the assets itself. It’s more centered around the time it takes a human to be able to verify the data regarding your assets. So we find that we save people quite a bit of time and that time adds up, you know, pretty extensively. When I looked at my previous case study, one of the things that really drove me to start this business and build this business, we got to a point where every quarter we were, you know, basically doing an audit on a 100, $200,000 worth of equipment. And it was a war of attrition for me. It was, okay, how many man hours am I gonna put on finding this 100,000? And once it got over 40, 50,000, it was really easy to say uncle and say, “You know what? Let’s just cut our losses and move on.” So it was more centered around the time. If you look at the average Asset Panda customer, they say it’s roughly an 800% ROI and 400 hours a year, you know? So it’s pretty extensive in terms of how much time it saves people and you have to multiply that across how many mid-level managers are saving that amount of time. So we think we can put a lot of time back on people’s calendar so they can focus on other things that are more important than just tracking down the equipment and finding out if it was managed efficiently.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Yeah, I totally understand that. Let me ask then, what do you see as the biggest hurdles when it comes to asset management adoption and, you know, also I guess another side of that, how do you kinda overcome them or what advice do you have for companies looking to overcome those potential roadblocks, hurdles, that come with adopting an asset management solution?
– [Rex] An asset management solution that’s gonna be adopted by your workforce in large has to be integrated with their daily life and how they do their job. So getting them used to downloading the app, scanning a barcode every time they use a piece of equipment instead of just picking up the equipment or maybe doing a handwritten register or something in a spreadsheet. But if you can tie in other areas around that asset into the application, we find higher adoption. So for example, let’s say you’re a forklift operator, maybe the time and attendance. So you check in, yes, I’m using this forklift and I’m timing in with the same app. And then if I need training on that forklift, well, there’s a training module, it’s also attached to the app. So when it goes to the management of an app or management of an asset, it’s much more holistic than it is just tracking that piece of equipment. It’s basically any data point that a person using that piece of equipment will need during the duration of usage. So if you can centralize everything in one spot, we find that people will adopt it pretty quickly. If you have one system for tracking your time, and another system for training, and another system, then it becomes cumbersome. And it’s the reason why Asset Panda was built as a platform. So you can put all of those things, whatever is important to you, into the application. The other piece is having role based security. We have clients, there’s one I’m thinking of right now, that services jet engines across Europe and the United States. They save thousands and thousands of hours. We have a case study actually on our website about it. But if you look at the productivity increase in asset tracking and management, they’ll tell you they love our software. I would argue that they really love their process in our software. And there’s nothing more frustrating, I dunno how you feel about this, but there’s nothing more frustrating to me than when I get into a business application, and I have a thing that I wanna do, and it does a thousand things, but I wanna see one thing. So with Asset Panda, we built it so it was role based down to the secure field. So if you have somebody in a warehouse and they only work with durable medical products that are cooling agents to help people with ACL surgery, all they get is exactly what you want them to see. So that the app looks incredibly simple and tailored just to them.
– [Ryan] I think it’s a very good point because a lot of companies kind of get fixated on a solution that impresses based on the how much it can do or how much it potentially can do, all the features and things along those lines. But in reality, I think it’s very important, and I think companies often lose sight of this, that building, I don’t wanna say building the full solution, but the way you adopt I think really needs to be thought about from the end user backwards, so that when you have that conversation with a company like Asset Panda, you’re able to clearly articulate not only the pain points, but who the end user is, what their skill level is, what they need, what they don’t need. Because at the end of the day, nobody wins if you overcomplicate, if you overwhelm the end user with too much stuff, just trying to, in a sense, show off what this can do. It needs to be able to solve the intended purpose as quickly and efficiently as possible. And I think that just is like the general premise we’re talking about IoT anyways, right? Improving efficiencies. And that’s something that I think a lot of times with some of these platforms, and some of these solutions out there, is lost. It’s, we want to be able to do everything, but the end user doesn’t care about 90% of the things. They only care about what matters to them to do their job better, otherwise they don’t want it, otherwise it complicates their life.
– [Rex] I completely agree with you. And, you know, we have that experience because we both have probably used tools in the past where we thought 80% of this I’ll never use, it’s cool that it’s there. So when we design Asset Panda, that’s the way we designed it. So we could make it sort of funneling, a funnel approach to the user to make it as basic as it needs to be for a specific type of user, but as complex as it needs to be for other folks. So yeah, that’s the genesis of the platform model.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. And I think if the solution of the platform company does not understand that, it’s hard for them to steer the end user, or not the end user, but the customer that’s going to be purchasing their solution in that direction to get to the point where they can actually build something that is viable for the actual end user of the customer. Otherwise, it’s going to look like the solution does not work well, and that is not a win for anyone.
– [Rex] I completely agree. It’s the concept, you know, back, we used to think about marketing in terms of specific industries and niches. So we go sell to the insurance industry and these are the thousand features that an insurance company might want an application. But I think where software’s evolved, and where IoT is particularly interesting, is now it’s done by the persona, the actual person at the company and the work that they’re involved with. And, you know, IoT and its specificity of being able to derive certain information from certain equipment quickly and easily, and then having that incorporated in the workflow of the person in their daily life, I think is where IoT, you know, you really put gas on the fire there, it becomes so much more effective because it’s more efficient. You’re giving people the information they need when they need it and nothing else.
– [Ryan] A hundred percent, yeah, I totally agree. Last thing, couple things I wanted ask you before I let you go here is, for companies out there looking to adopt an asset management solution, what advice do you have on how they should approach that? And then secondly, what are you most excited for or looking forward to as the future of this industry in this area with asset management evolves?
– [Rex] Absolutely. So if you’re looking at evaluating a solution, I think what you said just a moment ago is completely appropriate. Think about the people that are gonna be using it, who on the team? And then not only understand like who they are, but understand their workflows. What actions are associated with their job? What management capabilities do they need around asset tracking? And look for a solution that can incorporate as much as you can find into one solution. If it’s purely asset tracking, there are a lot of solutions that can do it, but asset tracking and true management that mirrors your work process is key to getting any kind of asset tracking system adopted. And if we focus on the user itself, the company’s gonna get gains because yes, you’re gonna lose less, there’s gonna be less theft, you’re gonna get insights into what products to buy because you have better information on the management and life cycle of ’em. But ultimately, how do we make your employees life easier? How do we make a mundane, boring, you know, project of tracking your assets simple and easy and just part of how you work every day? That’s really the key to adoption. In terms of the growth of the industry, I am so excited about it. The birth of IoT, we say the birth of it, you know, IoT’s been around 20 years, it’s been a thing. And there’s so many industries. But it’s maturing on a level that’s fascinating and that you will be able to, not just the biggest companies, but even us as people and individuals, be able to track virtual anything you wanna track. So how do you do that? How do you centralize that information? It’s no good if it’s in one system here for Apple, it’s another one for another piece of equipment I have. How can you kind of consolidate it all in one place? And then how can you help people manage that asset through its life cycle? Know when the warranty’s expiring, know who the people are that can service the application, the piece of equipment. So just ease of use in consolidating everything related to that asset in one record.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. Yeah, it’s a very exciting space, like I said, to follow. And to kind of follow, not just the technology and the solutions, but the adoption as well. I think it’s an area that can really, and has been kinda leading the way in the IoT space, and it’s very exciting to kind see how it progresses. So I truly appreciate your time coming on here today, talk more in detail about it. I wanted to ask if our audience wants to follow up with questions, learn more about Asset Panda or just these topics in general, is there a best way to engage, reach out to learn more?
– [Rex] Sure. If you just go to assetpanda.com, we’ve got a plethora of information, including ROI calculators and things. Lots of different use cases. And we’ve got a system set up where you can get demos quickly. You can watch videos of demos so you can get smart about what our product does and the types of customers that enjoy the benefits of it. So our website we think is the best place to go for anything asset tracking, asset management related.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Well, Rex, thanks so much for taking your time. Really appreciate it, man. It was great having you on here and I’m looking forward to getting this out to our audience.
– [Rex] Thank you. Enjoyed it, Ryan.
– [Ryan] All right everyone, thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT For All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel, and be sure to hit the bell notifications so you get the latest episodes as soon as they become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time.