Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Larry Allhands Talks about Fire-X

Where are you from originally?

Born and raised in San Jose, CA. Grew up there in the 70s and 80s. My brother and I bought our first computer in 1979 with money from a paper route and taught ourselves Basic and Machine Language, programming to program our first video game in my bedroom. We have been hacking on computer systems ever since in a more professional capacity.

What university did you go to?

My brother and I both went to Michigan State University. He graduated but I did not. I left to work in the commercial nuclear industry as a senior nuclear power plant operator after serving as an operator on nuclear submarines in the US Navy in the 80s. After deciding that the commercial nuclear industry was not for me, I went into technology in the early 1990s, working at tech startups, Gateway Computers, and eventually ending up at a company in this Silicon Valley in 2000. Since then I have worked in several Silicon Valley startups, picking up experience along the way.

In 2004, I went back into the Military to support the Nation’s war effort joining the Army National Guard as a “citizen soldier”. My Vice President and I are both graduates of the US Army Warrant Officer Candidate School and the US ARMY Signal Corps Warrant Officer Basic Course. We are skilled and proven leaders and technical experts.

What is the idea behind your startup?

Smart Homes are the fastest growing segment in the Consumer Electronics market. Smart home systems typically consist of four pillars of automation; environmental, lighting, security, and entertainment. Of those four areas, the sexiest area (the one shown off the most) is the entertainment system. We design and manufacture award winning professional grade media systems for the entertainment segment of the home automation industry. Last year, 350,000 home automation systems in America included a professional grade media system. Our system is the best value on the market at a mid-ranged price point.

We identified that our market was a two-tiered market consisting of system integrators and end users. We also found that in this market the system integrators specify the brand and model of equipment being installed in home automation projects 89% of the time. So we went into the market to make a product that system integrators love to install with our patent-pending self-configuration technology and over-engineered best in class performance and reliability.

What need does it fulfill?

Using “Lean Startup Methodology” we brought our product to local system integrators and made iterative improvements with direct feedback from the customers in our target market. We learned their pain points directly and engineered a solution to attack those. The result was a superior, award winning product poised to dominate the custom integration market.
Their pain points consisted of media systems that are unreliable, difficult to deploy, inflexible, and expensive. Our system is designed from the ground up to be very easy to install with modular components that allow for flexible design and deployments. Put simply, we offer an award winning media system at a price point that makes it the best value purchase on the CEDIA market for system integrators.

What exactly does it do?

FIREFX Media Systems store and manage media libraries and play movies and TV shows in a home automation environment. Think of it as a professional grade Apple TV (on steroids) capable of full integration to a home automation control system.

Who is it for?

We have a two tiered market consisting of the end user and the system integrator. Our system is not for a “do it yourselfer” but rather a professional installer. Much like an end user would never attempt to install their own central air conditioning system. You could compare our system to that type sales of model; sold through authorized dealers.
  1. The Home Automation (Smart Home) System Integrator that specifies, designs, installs and configures the entire system.
  2. The end user (Smart Home Owner) that wants a system that is robust, reliable, and awesome to use.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up?

Learning the professional consumer electronics integration market and developing the right product to attack that market.
Building the business and brand. It is a grind, but we are soldiers… grinding is what we like to do!

What is the next step for you and your business?

Scale our business to grow with our new distribution contracts as a base while expanding our direct sales model. Develop our ERP solution to allow us to scale with growing demand. Continue to listen to our market and innovate.  Continue to build our brand aggressively.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Don’t wait for things to happen to your business, make them happen for your business. Share your vision, build a team, delegate, listen to your subject matter experts, learn quickly from your mistakes, correct your actions, and never, ever… ever give up.

What resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

My executive team; for their vision, ingenuity, teamwork, willingness to sacrifice, and diligence.  Our board of advisors; for their breadth of business experience and willingness to contribute to our organization’s growth.

The CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association) organization; for providing an awesome market environment for our business to grow.

To learn more about Fire-X visit this link

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