26 June 2021|Brand Story, Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
We recently caught up with Rishi Lodhia as part of our Meet the Successful Founder series, to learn more about his entrepreneurship journey.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Eagle Eye Networks is number one worldwide in delivering true cloud video surveillance and artificial intelligence to make businesses more efficient and the world a safer place – all on the only video management platform robust and flexible enough to power the future of video surveillance.
Use cases range from monitoring commercial office space, retail and distribution centres to providing AI-enabled security for banks as well as entire cities. Last year, our company installed more than 13,000 cloud-managed cameras all around Mexico City, to enhance the safety of its inhabitants.
How did the idea come to you?
It all started in the early 2000s. I shared a small room with my roommate Tijmen Vos. We built web applications and custom made online business applications and we offered hosting. We were one of the first to build a really sophisticated web editing tool to maintain and edit websites. It was a web development company in an end-to-end way.
The idea for our company came about through the experience of one of my friends. He owned a clothing store in Maastricht. He then opened the second one in Groningen, on the other side of the country. That forced him to spend hours travelling back and forth. It made us think: “What could technology do for him?”
Our solution: zero distance communication. We installed a connected camera so my friend could see his store remotely. If a customer in Maastricht wanted a shirt in a different print, someone in Groningen could hold it up to the camera. And he could always see if the shelves were full and the store was set up neatly. It allowed him to run a better operation and he did not need to drive to Groningen every week. More than 15 years ago we were way ahead in time with the technology of using remote video via a cloud service to improve business processes.
How did you achieve awareness?
When we were just getting started we worked closely with a small but trusted group of customers and early adopters. We worked extremely hard to deliver as much value to them as possible, and we encouraged them to give us feedback. We also built relationships with fellow entrepreneurs. We also forged strong bonds with other companies in our ecosystem – mainly technology partners such as camera manufacturers and API partners, like access control software providers. The critical thing was these partners were all forward thinking like our team – they knew the future would look very different from the past – and they were building their products and business in line with that.
How long have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We received our first round of funding about 18 months after we started the business. We met with our investor, and within 5 minutes we’d pretty much come to a deal. He didn’t even read the 60 page business plan we spent days writing!
What are the key successes?
When we started the business 17 years ago my mission was to revolutionise the camera business and disrupt video surveillance. In the early days there was limited competition and few businesses were using cloud computing the way that we were. Today, we’re seeing strong competition and the video surveillance industry is booming. From our humble beginnings we really started something! That’s a key success to me.
What were the challenges and how have you overcome them?
One of the key challenges we faced early on is that our solution was always so far ahead of the market – we were at least two lifecycles ahead. Offering something that’s so different, and so advanced, can lead to people wondering if you’ll be a success. As an entrepreneur, you have to really believe in yourself, and what you’re trying to achieve. You need to keep focused and work towards your goal. Of course it’s important to take advice and listen to feedback – but at the end of the day it’s your company, it’s your idea and you’re in the driving seat. Adopt the principles of the hedgehog concept – it’ll stand you in good stead.
Having a good team also helps. Those first few people you hire are so very important. As an entrepreneur building a business you’ll encounter many storms, but with the right people you can overcome pretty much anything. Oh, and of course, work hard. From the outside it can look super easy to build a business. But it’s not. There will always be days when you want to give up, but when you feel like that, take it one day at a time – and keep going!
What are your plans now / for the future?
My mission to revolutionize the video surveillance industry is far from finished! The fact of the matter is that video surveillance can do so much more than securing buildings and keeping people safe. It can automate business processes and make people’s lives easier.
The day I feel I can no longer make a difference, I’ll look for another challenge.
8. What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I’ve never entrepreneured on my own. Building a business isn’t easy, and it’s difficult to do by yourself. My advice is to find a partner who completely understands what you’re trying to achieve, and who can bring complementary skills to the partnership. In any case, it’s more fun to do it with two people!
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Be passionate about what you’re doing.
- Do something that others are not doing.
- If the problem you are trying to solve isn’t complex, the chances are that someone else has already figured it out.
- Try to fix a complex problem that has a global impact.
- Aim to stay two product lifecycles ahead of the competition. That’s tough! But it can be done!
- Don’t wait for perfection; focus on customer experience.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
Batman – he’s a superhero without supernatural powers, and uses technology to save the world.
Winston Churchill – he was an interesting personality that stuck to his mission.
Roger Federer – he’s changed the game of tennis and like me, his mission is not over yet. Formula 1 – I appreciate this isn’t a person, but the sport itself is so exciting. It’s effectively a technology competition where one thousandth of a second can make all the difference, and it requires a strong, close-knit team to deliver the results.
My father always inspires me. He’s always so positive. He always has a goal and focuses on moving forward, not looking back.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it.”