As Allegion’s Futurist and President of Allegion Ventures, Rob Martens helps guide, inspire and challenge old ways of thinking. Rob was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the 20 influencers that will lead the Internet of Things, and recognized by Accenture and Forbes as one of 40 IoT leaders to follow on social media.
Asif: Please tell us about your vision for Allegion Ventures.
Rob: Allegion Ventures is a $50M fund focused primarily on people and asset flow. We write checks from $250k-$5M and up focused on emerging technology and business processes, in Seed, Series A-C companies. As a corporate venture fund, we understand that in many minds we would be presumed to be slow or heavy in our approach. At Allegion Ventures, we hope to reverse that trend: focusing on value-added interactions for the entrepreneur that are perceived as beneficial whether we ultimately invest or not. Most importantly, we only invest where we believe that we can bring some real value; there is a lot of capital out there and we know our expertise in safety and security can help companies in our space grow.
Asif: What do you predict will be some of the biggest business opportunities affected by the Internet of Things?
Rob: The IoT is quite pervasive; the application of connected and intelligent devices is only limited by the imagination of the person applying it. That said, common sense must be used. Connecting things just for the sake of connecting them only creates a burden for the user and likely an unnecessary risk for them to have to manage. I am of course biased, but I believe that some of the biggest business opportunities are in the construction and intelligent building spaces. These are areas that are ripe for improvement, and if the technology is applied well, will bring tremendous benefits to everyone involved.
Asif: What advice would you give to tech startups when starting their journey?
Rob: There are two kinds of entrepreneurs in my experience: missionaries and mercenaries. Missionaries are passionate about their craft and are focused on the details—they have a mission and want to make a broader contribution to the market; however, this passion may cloud some judgement or limit tactical opportunities at times. Mercenaries are entrepreneurs who are focused on capitalizing on a trend, and the creation and relatively quick sale of their business to another entity. If they’re not careful they innovate for effect, and may not understand the full process. I encourage tech startups to understand who they are and which approach they are going to take early. There is nothing wrong with either; both can still result in a major contribution.
Asif: As an investor, what do you see that startups commonly lack?
Rob: More than anything, the discipline to be focused and financially responsible. Do not raise or accept more capital than you need. Understand your goal(s) and communicate it often. Hire well. And when you make a mistake, acknowledge it quickly and move on.
Asif: What books/people have influenced your thoughts the most?
Asif: What are your views about MarkTechPost?
Rob: MarkTechPost provides focused content across a broad array of tech and trends. AI/Machine Learning, Digital Health, VR, Digital Learning are all areas to watch in such a dynamic marketplace.