Steve Lewis is the CEO and co-founder of Industrial Eye Pty Ltd. He has vast experience in commercialization, creative, brand development and communications, with a love of disruptive technologies.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Steve Lewis: My career started unconventionally working with some incredible musicians in a creative office supporting, amongst others, the band Aerosmith at a time of real disruption, the dot com bubble and burst. In my late teens this was trial by fire. I had an amazing opportunity with a world-famous and iconic platform to build my skills in creative and business with no institutional education behind me.
Earning reputation and responsibility, I was asked by band members and outside parties to manage or build products which started my journey down the disruptive commercialization strategy. My inner-nerd was enthralled by the detail required to build and bring to market products from hot sauce, soft toys, recording studio technology and fashion lines.
I was extremely lucky to build my experience working with incredible organisation managing elements of NFL Super Bowl 2001, Kick off 2003 as key highlights – a very proud period in my career. I left that organisation in 2004 to start my own business in what we now call Commercialisation and Branded Entertainment – titles you didn’t hear at that time.
Industrial Eye is another disruptive force that came out of a modern streaming platform we built for live and on-demand entertainment – MVSN. With ultra-low latency, all wireless technology and the elements of plug-and-play functionality you see in modern gaming, a safety and rescue professional, ISH24 approached us for a configuration of the platform for his team to have better monitoring In confined space management.
Our team had already started work on a platform for safety monitoring we called Industrial Eye, and this was an opportunity to fulfil an immediate need in the space as travel was limited due to pandemic restrictions and crew numbers were declining to all-time lows in safety management. Opportunity knocked and we answered.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Steve Lewis: We learned a lot. For us, fortunately, we were creating a solution to combat the effects of the pandemic so new business was not the problem. The inability to travel and to bring the team together posed some very unique challenges. People getting sick, and in some cases, the lack of dev-talent was a challenge.
However, I would say that as a team we were quite blessed during this period. Organisations that were export heavy, enjoying the fruits of high-paying Asian clients for so long, found the need to re-establish a local market with a very different appreciation for the product and tolerance for pricing. This continually reinforced the fact that you can’t rely on one client or one territory for the stability of your business.
You need to invest time and resources into developing multiple markets, including your own, in order to be perfectly future proof.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Steve Lewis: Don’t rely on one client. Make sure your business is very well received in the market you can affect the most which is generally your own community or territory. Be extremely mindful of fluctuating costs that impact on your margin stability.
It is very difficult to alter your pricing down the line and consumers have a lot of choice. Pricing strategy needs to be a critical focus and you need to have diversity to protect your margins and your cashflow.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Steve Lewis: Streaming technology has seen a massive boom during this time. We were all home and clambering for options of things to watch. Travel restrictions and challenges around declining crew numbers, along with some very timely relationships gave us an opportunity. I would say that we were working hard and got lucky.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Steve Lewis: I’ve done some great online courses during that period and wished I got into that more in the early part of the pandemic. As a leader, I was looking to build more structure around our project management, tracking and compliance, as well as new ways to engage the team while working remote.
Moving forward, I want to continue my learning and improving the business to be future proof and to maintain experience and productivity as we go through these shifts – dare I say this may not be the last time we experience this in our career-time.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Steve Lewis: I’m looking forward to getting out in the field. Conventions are back. Our tech is deployable and I want to be on the front line in the field showing it off and directly participating in those real-world applications. I’m looking forward to site visits in remote locations north of Kalgoorlie or remote Tasmania.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Steve Lewis: A lot! Too many perhaps, but I would say that this has been a huge blessing. We have these amazing tools that have enabled collaboration, saved time and money for travel, etc. and helped us build deeper relationships with people we have barely seen in the past. I make sure I have time out with the time that these screens save us.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Steve Lewis: I love a good story. I try to liken strategy to other areas of my experience that are, maybe, a bit more colourful and entertaining with the objective of illustrating the point and creating a common understanding for the various personalities we work with.
Recently I was using the analogy of the rock band, I know it well, difficult personalities, a lot of fame and money and ego’s inflated and bruised. But, no matter what, no matter where in the world, the show had to go on. The fans having spent their money, an invented necessity and a special occasion, and every member of the band and every member of the crew on the road and supporting from home, is a part of that experience.
More than ever in 2022 we need to make sure our people see their value, feel and receive their value back for themselves. We no-longer go to work, work comes to us. We have staff shortages so they have options. I use those stories so they feel they know that every part of the process is a part of the product and we will succeed and fail together…even though it’s the lead singer who takes the brunt of the punches.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Steve Lewis: Cashflow for tech companies. Valuations are changing and becoming more and more conservative and tech companies traditionally rely on investment in order to be successful. We see huge “success” stories who have never posted a profit.
I think that as the governments look to see who is paying the bill for the pandemic spending, some required, some crazy, we will continue to see a shift back to the trade and true in order to reestablish some stability. Some tech will suffer but I think that ultimately it is an adjustment that we need to see.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Steve Lewis: NFTs and smart contracts are very interesting to me because I am big on accountability and hate when one side delivers the result and the other changes the remuneration on value. Happens too much.
Crypto is fascinating as well, however, I would also have to side with online marketing. TikTok and Instagram have been huge disrupters. I saw a click-and-collect ad for a Rolls Royce the other day on my daughter’s Instagram feed. For me. that is audience engagement and I am loving the options it is bringing to business to diversify sales, improve cash flow periods and empower business with more direct data.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Steve Lewis: As I mentioned, I think we need to do a better job as leaders to make sure people understand the value they create and feel it in return. I don’t believe employees want or need coddling, I do believe people want some tough love when they understand the career path and benefit.
Of course these are generalisations, however, I think it is above value and we need to do a better job of inspiring the future potential, defining it and actively participating in it together.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Steve Lewis: Spreadsheets. I love spreadsheets. Excel is definitely a superpower I would love more of… and to sleep more than 8 hours uninterrupted.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Steve Lewis: As a father, I take a lot out of watching my girls making good decisions, and I’m so proud of how they participate in the community. I have a disabled child, which poses a lot of challenges to my family and speaking openly, my colleagues have to understand a few things from time to time.
But I communicate the need for my work with my girls, the know my work, they know the importance of my work to our family and they feel invested in our success. We have time, it’s not all work-no play, but success for me exists a lot in that relationship and having as many options as possible for how we spend our time.
I also feel a lot of responsibility for my team. I want to know that as we work very hard together we are all feeling the rewards for that and are invested in the success we receive together. I am very excited to see our products in use – monitoring and supporting first responders and specialty rescues. That will be a great moment.
Jerome Knyszewksi, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Steve Lewis for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Steve Lewis or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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