This is the first in a series profiling the members of eleven-x. We welcome your suggestions for what kind of interview questions you’d like to pose for the next round. Without further ado, please meet Craig.
What is you educational background?
I attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario for Computer Engineering. Originally, I had thought I’d go to my hometown school – University of Waterloo. In the end, the opportunity to move away from home and try something new really appealed to me. Something told me I might be ending up back in Waterloo for my professional career, since even then it had some great technology companies and opportunities. But Kingston’s small town and close-knit campus was a great place to learn, and I have fond memories of attending there as many Queen’s graduates will attest.
What path brought you into this particular industry?
I graduated just around the dot-com bust, and knew it could be tough to find entry level jobs. Having worked summers for both start-ups and established technology companies, I wanted to join a fast-paced younger company. BlackBerry was really starting to take off, although starting days before their first layoffs in 2002 it was an exciting time to be there. The processors in the phones were as fast as my first desktop machines, and the power of “Always on Always Connected” was alluring. I became addicted to mobile, and not having to be tied to a desk to effectively do your job.
I was proud of the contributions I made to ensure that the BlackBerry modem was “Always On, Always Connected” and it wasn’t just marketing speak. It didn’t hurt that everyone worldwide was in love with their BlackBerry either. But now the mobile phone is really becoming ubiquitous. Modems are becoming cheaper, but the technology is still very complicated and moving fast. I want to see what mobile and RF can do for other industries. I think IOT and M2M have huge potential to change many other industries. They just need the right technology to make it work.
What do you like about this type of work?
The great part about this work is that each day is different. A lot of the work is problem solving which can be very rewarding and very frustrating. But I enjoy the mix of real world issues, and new feature requirements. Then there is finding the most efficient implementation. And of course, for each different problem there can be a different standard, and different solution. The technology is continually moving on, there is what’s proposed, what’s in trials, and what’s available in customer hands. So you need to understand all of it, and pick solutions that will work best today and for the future unknowns as systems mature.
What drew you to a startup, and/or eleven-x in particular?
I was drawn to start-ups for the “we do everything” attitude. It’s a mentality I felt was missing at bigger companies where “they do that” replaces it. It helps keep you from getting pigeonholed into one task. And if you have thoughts, opinions and suggestions, it is very easy to voice them, since the founders never sit more than 20 feet away, and will always find time. But I like eleven-x because it’s taking a focused and directed step into the messy world of IOT and modem development to make it better and easier for people to take advantage of its value.
What are you most excited about in the near future for this industry?
I always liked an example problem I was given in University: design an elevator software controller. In theory it should be a simple exercise, elevators go up and down. But as you peel back the onion, problems of efficiency in scheduling, timing of drop off, pick-ups and hold locations quickly complicate this.
The problem served as a real eye opener to the fact that even simple problems when investigated can contain deeply complicated systems. Going back to the elevator analogy and giving the designer knowledge of common events and times in the system quickly helps him make it more efficient. So to me, IOT sensors/modems/products is the promise of the data to help make so many of our 20th century systems efficient for the 21st century.
What are your interests, hobbies?
As mentioned above, I like the opportunity to try new things, and one great way to do that is travel. Now with a family, I find my roaming to be more local then global – but I very much enjoy going and seeing new places, cuisines and ways of life. When I’m at home, much of my summers are spent doing triathlon training, or just running/swimming/biking for fun. In the winters, it’s cooking and enjoying a book or movie by a fire. Then I guess when I can find time, I like to tinker with 3D printers and small models for friends and family — another technology ready to take off.