The end users of our product – a product that bridges the real world and the web – never feel observed, for example, by their employer. Instead, they are requesting the kind of recognition our technology offers because it improves their experience. That’s a huge win for us.
– Jeffrey Dungen, Co-founder and CEO of reelyActive
reelyActive, a world leader in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) real-time location systems, allows their clients to view the real world as if it were made up of webpages, in order to optimize what matters most to their business.
In our interview room, Jeffrey explains to me how Pareto, reelyActive’s SaaS (Software as a Service) platform, observes behaviours, objects and the interactions between those elements: “Let’s say we place a sensor in this room and it perceives the presence of two people, a wearable (electronic data storage device that can be carried on oneself), a smartphone, etc. By reproducing the room and its occupants in their “web” version, it becomes very easy for computers to understand this data. And there are tools that already exist to organize it all. We therefore propose translating the physical world into webpages, with a real-time data stream.”
Daring to dream
Jeffrey Dungen, an engineer and artificial intelligence enthusiast, has been working in the field of “friendly big brother” technology since the early days, when privacy issues were still a major drag on development. “There was no solution on the market for some very simple problems, like the need to identify in which room of a warehouse particular works of art were stored,” he recalls.
“One of my co-founders pleasantly surprised me in 2011. He ended up sacrificing his New Year’s Eve tinkering around with the prototypes to create our first working reelceiver. I knew then that we had something very special on our hands,” says the CEO.
In 2012, with their first client, co-founders Jeffrey, Pier-Olivier and Traian founded reelyActive. Their Silicon Valley client wanted to launch an AirBnB-type parking service: users park their car; the parking space recognizes their car; billing is done without ever touching their phone. Despite the fact that the client could not move forward because the idea was coming to market a little too early, this meeting gave life to the company’s location platform. The platform then got them accepted into FounderFuel’s accelerator, making them the first Canadian startup with a hardware component to participate in an accelerator.
“We chose not to play the typical startup game, raising a lot of capital, following the usual recipe for success,” relays Jeffrey. “We wanted to first create major value, thinking that if we could survive long enough, we would have a huge advantage over our competitors and would end up in a class of our own. And that’s what is happening right now. One of the key players in our sector is watching us, incredulous, wondering how we’ve managed to do it!”
Believing that money will follow value is not an easy path. “To any entrepreneur who is thinking about taking this route… think twice. I maybe wouldn’t do it again,” Jeffrey declares with a laugh. “But it is very rewarding!”
With their six employees, reelyActive needs more staff to support their growing customer base: a happy observation for a young company that is growing in 2018.
The future… for reel
When we met, Jeffrey was visiting a reelyActive partner, Jogogo, an intelligent retail expert. He explained to me how important it is for retailers to take advantage of everything available online. “As a retailer, I invite customers to enter my physical store, and to bring their digital profiles with them. In this way, customers benefit from the best of the web and the elements of their profile they choose to share, which allows me to offer them specific articles, etc. But they also enjoy the best of the real world, a human being who can look at them and interact with them.” Projecting into the future, Jeffrey imagines that one day kids will be quite surprised at the evolution of shopping: “But Dad, why wasn’t your avatar with you when you were buying stuff in those days?!”
In a way, reelyActive’s technologies encourage people to opt for real-world interactions, a concept that inspires the enthusiasm of the entire team.
Changing the world by combining technology with humanity, unlocking the value of data through machine-contextual-awareness… that’s what drives this Montreal startup as they develop their presence not only in retail, but also in the health and intelligent office sectors. “These are major victories,” Jeffrey points out. “We’re working on a project right now with Desjardins at the Olympic Stadium, which is quite something… we’ll be able to say that we’re in the world’s tallest inclined tower!”
Source: Mélanie Pilon, Writer for the Star Tech Vitrine