Business Not 101

A talk about focused energy with Artmiz Golkaramnay, Co-founder of LATYS

September 08, 2022 Olivier Bousette Season 3 Episode 21
Business Not 101
A talk about focused energy with Artmiz Golkaramnay, Co-founder of LATYS
Show Notes Transcript

Artmiz Golkaramnay, Co-founder and VP of Product & Business Development at LATYS Intelligence

Artmiz is a creative and visionary leader in product design. She utilizes her research, leadership, and problem-solving experience to guide LATYS in building future-proof products. 

She earned her BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Norwich University (Vermont, USA) and her MASc in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada).

Artmiz's initial research had been focused in diverse areas of circuit design, cryptography, and mathematics. Her research in Vertex-Magic Total Labelling was published in Discrete Mathematics. Her latest research was focused on improving 5G mmWave networks using Reinforcement Learning techniques.

With her love for engineering and passion for the wireless communication industry, she has contributed to several professional organizations in different capacities. She served as the president of Society of Women Engineers (SWE), chair of IEEE, and president of Tau Beta Pi (TBP). Along with being an active member of the above mentioned professional organizations, she is also a member of Eta Kappa Nu.

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Olivier [00:00:00] Welcome to Business Not 101 

A podcast. Explores the uncommon side of business. I'm your host Olivier Bousette? 

And our founders into your series. We discuss the journey from the aha moment to the launch. And some roadblocks hit along the way. Each interview looks to the key points of the business. And the founders themselves. 

We hope you enjoy this episode. 

Hi Artmiz is how are you?

Artmiz G Hi, Oliver. Good. How are you?

Olivier Great. Thank you. Thanks for joining us today on business. Not 1 0 1

Artmiz G Thank you very much for inviting me.

Olivier pleasure. Okay. Let's get right into it. So please introduce yourself and give us your 62nd business pitch.

Artmiz G Sounds good. I'm Artmiz Golkaramnay and I'm the co-founder of Latice and let's, let's get on with the elevator pitch. [00:01:00] So if you've ever experienced bad connectivity, you know how frustrating it can be. And this crappy wireless connection could be your cell service. It could be your wifi connection or even a private network you're connected to, for whatever reason, what you may not already know is that in most cases, your bad connection is actually not the fault of your device.

One of the main reasons why coverage and capacity of networks are limited, why infrastructure costs can be high is because of the way we design and implement wireless networks today. So. With lats technology, we are changing. The way networks are built. We use the available frequency time and space to improve network coverage, capacity and throughput while we lower the infrastructure's overall cost without getting too technical with our lattice networking approach, we're basically placing energy where it needs to be instead of spraying it all around and then hoping that it reaches a Destin.

Olivier That's really interesting. Yeah. That's that is a bit technical, but I get the concept. It's really cool. So what [00:02:00] was your aha moment behind this? Where did you, where did it come from? And you decided, yeah, this is, I need to launch this business.

Artmiz G So I had an aha moment for starting a business in general. And Maybe I'll talk about that and then we'll get specifically to Latice. But so for my graduate studies, I was researching improving 5g millimeter wave networks. And during my defense, one of the committee members after, you know, they all asked all the technical questions about our, our study and our approach and everything.

One of the committee members asked the question that I wasn't really sure how to. And he asked how we were planning on convincing service providers to use the method that we had come up with in our research. And I thought a little bit about it and how hard it was to convince one of those service providers in Quebec.

I won't name names to share their user data with us and. I actually ended up generating some of that data, randomly myself for our research because we actually couldn't convince them to share their customer data with [00:03:00] us. So that gentleman's question about how was I gonna convince them to use deep learning techniques to service their customers?

Well, My answer was that we probably wouldn't. And that's what I told the committee member that this was just research and as much as I'd hoped for someone to see those results and decide to implement it, my advisors and I had actually not had a conversation about how we were gonna convince them to do that.

But that, then that question actually brought me to think how much cool research was being done at universities, but I was never seeing the light of. And so when I came across an incubator whose sole job was to look at university research and find teams and find markets and products to actually bring those ideas into the market, I thought it would be cool to check them out.

So that's what I did.

Olivier That's like a really great aha moment. And and sort of Seren this or how you say the word, but yeah, it was like everything sort of lined up for you. You were able to really move forward with that idea. [00:04:00] Now, you said you found the incubator. Did you apply for it or did did they come seek you out from university?

Artmiz G So I came across an entrepreneurship training program that the incubator was offering after my graduation. And through that. Training program. I found out that they actually hire entrepreneurs to become what they call entrepreneur and residences or E at the incubator. And then they help those EERs to come up with ideas, to build teams around those ideas and launch a company.

And so I decided to, when, you know, when they gave me the offer, I decided to.

Olivier That's really cool. That's really cool. Yeah. Okay. And so. Looking at that. What was the biggest roadblock you felt you're gonna have with your project moving forward?

Artmiz G So, what I was most afraid of was my lack of experience. I. Had just graduated from graduate school, from graduate studies in [00:05:00] electrical and computer engineering. And honestly, I thought that starting a company meant that I'd had to have worked in the industry for decades. I'd have to have a lot of different kinds of experience around you know, working with teams around managing teams around.

Even budgets, you know, managing the finances of the company and all of that. But the, what I learned through my experience with the incubator was that I would actually get to learn about all of those aspects by doing it obviously. So there's no better way to learn than to actually roll up your sleeves and do it, but it also gave me the opportunity to look at all the other incubated ventures at that incubator.

See what mistakes they were making potentially, and try to avoid those mistakes or see what good decisions they were making and try to replicate those. So I didn't necessarily need to experience everything firsthand for myself. I could try and take advantage of that collective wisdom that existed.

And so that's what I ended up doing.[00:06:00] 

Olivier It's a really interesting point. Something that I don't hear often, because most of the people I interview have either launch or they're just they're sole entrepreneurs or they're parts of a bigger group, but it's a great point. You're in an ecosystem and start out ecosystem. But with mentors that are onsite that have tons of experience and you have a whole bunch of other people.

Who are running their own business, turning in their own business. And do you think this is something that really propelled you forward because it gave you a huge amount of information? Or did you feel maybe also, it's kind of like overwhelming because you have all these little businesses that are taking up time and energy to the mentor.

So do you feel like it's more of like a school environment or more of like a club environment where everybody has the same destination?

Artmiz G so for me, it's more, it's definitely more of a school environment for the mentors themselves. I can't speak for them. It's maybe overwhelming for them having all of these different entrepreneurs, asking them a million different questions, pulling them in a million different directions. But for me, it's been [00:07:00] actually, it was a really steep learning experience where in the first.

Few months of my time at the incubator, I learned more than I expected myself to have learned with years in the industry. And so. For for that. I definitely see it as more of a school experience, but don't get me wrong. It's definitely very overwhelming. There's a lot of information being thrown at you. So you kind of do need to take a lot of what you hear and apply your own lens and your own filter to it, and then apply it to what you think.

So the incubator that I'm at is really focused on developing companies. Have university back to research behind them, but that's very broad. It could be, you know, a hardware company, it could be a software company. It could be a combination of the two. So learning from these different experiences that people were having, building all of these different kinds of companies was also very helpful.

Olivier That's really interesting and sort of leads into my next question. If you can [00:08:00] lead yourself voice message go back in time and say, here's what I've learned and I should change. What would it be?

Artmiz G So one of the things I started Realizing very early on was that cold reach outs are hard. And, and it's not hard when you get rejected. It's actually really hard when you don't hear back from the person. And, and I understand that a lot of folks get a lot of messages. And they think, you know, it's a CRM sending out an automated reminder for them to reply.

So they kind of ignore it if they don't have the time. And they don't realize sometimes there was a real person sitting there waiting for them, hoping for them to answer. So that was one of the things that I struggled with a lot at the beginning. And I think if I were to go back, I would tell myself to.

Kind of just you know, trust the process, keep reaching out to more folks. Someone will answer and, and to be fair, some of the most interesting conversations I've had around entrepreneurship, some of the most inspiring conversations I've had around entrepreneurship have been when I sent a random person You know, a LinkedIn message asking for a few [00:09:00] minutes of their time.

And then they responded and it turned into a, basically a mentorship session that I didn't even expect to have. And then another advice I think I would have for myself is to trust that. I also have something to offer. I may not realize it at the time and it not, may not be of evident, you know, from the first few minutes of the conversation.

But at one point I may also say something that might be useful to them. And this is something I've heard from the folks that I did reach out to and they did end up responding to me. So.

Olivier That's great. And it's so true though, we all can give our piece of advice.

So that's really great. So now sort of switching gears a little bit on this You guys are only starting, so you don't really have a marketing plan in place, but what's one thing you're doing to grow your audience, your community around your business.

Artmiz G So. One of the things. One of the first things we needed to do was to figure out where we wanted to enter the market in. And that was a de decision that needed to be made early on because that would define how we would design our products. And the reason it was kind of difficult for [00:10:00] us to narrow that down was because the problems in wireless communication exists across a lot of different kinds of applications.

Like I was saying, you know, your cell phone could be having. Problem through a 4g 3g, wifi, or any other kind of network wireless network that you could think of. But our solution can also solve all of those pain points in all of those applications. So what we needed to do was to decide on one of those markets to start with and.

The decision couldn't just be simply pick the first one. It had to, there had to be a good thought process behind it. And the engineers that we are, we decided to, you know, come up with like a decision making basically where we look at the market, see where these pain points are, the greatest where can we can our technology and design shine the most and which one of these markets are really the largest.

So even if we grab a small percentage of it, it'll still be a good chunk. And so that landed us on the industry 4.0 market. The industry 4.0 market is basically [00:11:00] the fourth industrial revolution. And the reason it's happening is because there's demand for it from the market. And so that basically validated that part, that there's a need for it.

Then we needed to make sure that we could actually answer the needs. Their wireless connectivity and security needs. And we actually could. And so we decided to gear or design towards that. And, and honestly, to go back to why we even had to pick one of these markets to start with one of those conversations, those random conversations that I was having with an entrepreneur was that he was saying that there is no such thing as broad.

You either focus on something or, you know, you have a broad view of, of a bunch of things. And so if you wanna be successful at solving one particular problem, then you need to focus on that. And so that was the reason that we decided to pick one market, you know, design a solution for it, even though our solution can be applied across a lot of different applications, just pick one, make a product for [00:12:00] it, prove yourself in that market, and then go after the rest of the market.

If you still want to. And so with that, we decide, I ended up having a lot of conversations with folks in the industry for a 0.0 market and how I found them was mostly through LinkedIn. But also through my network and my networks network. So I would just, you know, reach out to old colleagues old friends and saying, you know, I'm, I'm looking into this area.

Do you know anyone who's for example, in robotics works at this specific company and I would get warm intros, cuz they're a lot less scary than cold intros where, you know, you just reach out to someone and hope that they respond. and and so through that, I was able to make a lot of connections. Another resource that we used that was really helpful was the Quebec, German delegation.

So the industry 4.0 market is actually like the entire push for this market came from you know, the German manufacturing industry. [00:13:00] And so there is a dedicated group of folks who were working, you know, there's also a Canadian, a German delegations and all of that. But with government help, you know, our.

Dollars are paying for these resources to be made available. And so we, we are taking advantage of that as well. They've been very helpful. 

Olivier Looking at those associations is something I never thought of. That's really interesting.

Artmiz G Yeah, they've been very helpful to us. I recommend

Olivier Excellent. So switching gears a little bit again now, but it's sort of in the same realm, what excites you about your industry? What are the trends that makes you like say, yeah, this is the way to go and or what makes you nervous that, you know, changes are happening certainly around, like for example, 5g, there was a lot of hesitance around it, even though it was, it seemed to come from nowhere.

So what do you think?

Artmiz G Interesting question. So with 5g, I do have to say this, I think us technologists you know, academics everyone need to do a better job at [00:14:00] communicating what it is that we're doing. With words that scare people less, or don't scare people at all. We tend to pick words that kind of explain things very technically and correctly, obviously, but then they end up creating a bit of hysteria.

And it leaves a lot of room for interpretation for people who may not necessarily have a deep understanding of everything technical behind it. So with everything 5g, I think hopefully with six G we can do better. But to go back to the first part of your question about what excites me about our industry is.

We have a real solution here. So the wireless connectivity is a real part of all of our lives today. Like the call you and I are on right now, you know, we're obviously using wifi. We have wireless connection. I had a wireless, he phone Bluetooth, you know, wireless connection. You. Are probably using some wireless connected [00:15:00] joysticks, maybe sometimes to play games, maybe your keyboard or mouse.

My mouse is wireless right now. So all of these, there, there are a real integral part of our lives today. So to be able to improve all of these different wireless connections. Is really important. It's actually gonna affect everyone's quality of life. And as somebody really smart, one day said to me, a really good customer experience is one that they don't notice.

So if you have a really good connection and they don't even think about whether or not that thing is gonna lose connection at one minute or not, that that that's when you've been successful. And that's what we're hoping to do with Les.

Olivier Yeah, that's so true. We only notice today when things are broken.

Artmiz G Yep.

Olivier That is something somebody said it's true. All right. That's amazing. Okay. We're gonna switch a little bit of. For real this time, and this is gonna be the part where I talk to you about you as an entrepreneur and ask you questions as an entrepreneur, even a new entrepreneur, a budding entrepreneur, but little things that people want to know.

[00:16:00] So first question I have, what makes you really productive? What is something that you do or you're set up that makes you productive as an entrepreneur that you feel anyway?

Artmiz G So. It's really easy for me to stay productive when I have a lot to do. And this is something that has been true for me all through my life. It's not just an entrepreneurship thing. And so when I have a lot to do, I just have no choice, but to get them done. And so I do them and I am a, a list maker.

Like it's, it's how I was built. My brain works better when I have lists of things. Cuz if I try to keep a mental list of things, I'll keep worrying that I'm gonna forget. And so writing down the list, you know, whether it's on my phone or in an actual post-it note really helps. And then the satisfaction I get out of crossing off an item off of that to-do list is really, really something.

And I guess another thing that helps me with productivity is that I really don't like waiting until last minute to do something. And so if, if I have something that I need to deliver, I'll, I'd rather. do [00:17:00] it right as when I learn about it then to just wait until it's due. And I know there's some people who really thrive on that last minute rush at a friend in college who used to say, if you wait until the last minute, then it only takes a minute.

But I'm not one of those people. And so I like making lists and crossing items off of those lists to you know, to get onto my next task.

Olivier That's so funny. And it, what I really laugh about is because I'm in technology too, and I still use pen and paper. So not only do I write a journal every day, but that's more for it. Yeah.

Artmiz G Yeah, pen and paper.

Olivier I, I know , but it's so funny how many people I know that are programmers or, or that use technology as integrated part of their business, that they still refer to everything they do as a checklist physically and touch their their, their pencils and pencils.

So that's really funny. And I'm with you on that. I love Try not to wait till last minute I do the two minute rule. So if, if it could take two minutes or less, I get it done right away that I try my best, but I'm also a horrible [00:18:00] procrastinator and I watch TikTok a lot more than I should, but that I guess could be worse. All right. That's great. Now we talked earlier about, so this is one of the questions I asked people about mentorship, but you are in a unique situation that you have multiple mentors at the, the location at the, the incubator, but do you feel like, are you gonna carry on the men with the mentors even afterwards?

Artmiz G For sure. I, and, and I know that it's kind of built into the, the process of the program to have these relationship with these mentors, but. Unless it happens naturally and organically in the process of you getting to know someone, I don't think it actually ends up working long term. And, and that's the reason that I think I will continue those relationships after the program is over for us because.

It wasn't, you know, the, the relationships I've built with my mentors, they didn't happen because you know, they had to happen. They happened because we spent some time together, started realizing that, oh yeah, you know, there, [00:19:00] there are things that the person can offer. And there are things that I'd like to learn from them.

And then, and then that happened. But even outside of the incubator like the conversations I was saying that I I've had with the entrepreneurs that I've reached out to over the, the last couple of years have happened. the person was just willing to share their experiences. Maybe they had positive experiences that they wanted to share, or maybe they had not so positive experiences that they wanted to warn somebody else off about.

So yeah. 

So we also have a technical advisory board and just, you know, a, a general advisory board of folks that we find have a, have something to say in the industry, either in the market that we wanna enter or in one of the future markets that we're interested in. And they're. Mentorship, their guidance has really been invaluable.

You know, we, you do, like you said, have to spend something in those instances to get that reward of their mentorship, but for us, it's been definitely worth it.

Olivier Okay. That's yeah, that's really [00:20:00] interesting. There's a cost to be able to grow and scale a business from scratch.

And I think there's a lot of times where we overlook that when we're starting businesses, we sort of, you know, muddled through everything ourselves. So that's really interesting. All right. So because you are, you're a small team, right? How many people are in your startup?

Artmiz G We are five, right.

Olivier Okay. So

Artmiz G growing

Olivier good. Excellent. Do you guys have plan? This is one of the questions I always ask people because it's something I really close to my heart. Do you guys have anything for wellbeing? Like how do you guys decompress? How do you keep, you know, morale up?

Artmiz G Absolutely. So. . I mean, one of the things I think is really important, especially nowadays with you know, a lot of work from home and only some people going into the office and all of that is to stay flexible to everyone's needs and, and understand that we're all people, we're all humans, we all have different kinds of needs.

So if you know, someone wants more flexible hours than, you know, you know, around the company and team's needs. [00:21:00] Absolutely provided if you can, if they want, you know, fixed hours, you nine to five and they don't wanna work outside of that, if it's possible, definitely work that in. But we also try to have these casual chats, casual check-ins daily where we just all kind of start our day together while we're sipping on our morning coffees and morning teas and, and do that.

We try to have regular team lunches team meals in general. They're not always lunches. But So through, through the incubator also we have this committee called the happiness committee whose job is to create happiness. And so through that committee which I am a proud member of kind of like the PPC, the, the party planning committee from the show, the office except we have less drama we we, we plan activities and we plan, we try to plan a variety of activities, you know, Hikes for the outdoors Eve folks and game nights for the ones who like to, to stay in and movie nights, if someone just really wants to do something in the office physically and doesn't wanna get out.

And we, you know, and everything [00:22:00] in between and from the attendance that some of those events get we kind of get a sense of what folks are enjoying more. And then we try to do more of one and less of the other, if it's less popular.

Olivier That's really interesting. I love that. All right. So the one question that I ask everybody, I think this is my probably became one of my favorite is what is one book, whether a business or a non-business related that has helped you in your business career.

Artmiz G Okay. There are a lot of really good books. I knew you were gonna ask this, I've given this some thought, by the way. I mean, there's a lot of good books around building, you know, lean startup. Management guides, technical group management, guides, all, all of it. So it's kind of hard to pick just one, but I have given this some thought and I'm gonna give you and okay.

This will actually tell you how little I know about the VC world before I started Latice. So when I was first thinking about venture [00:23:00] capital backed startups, Actually on the first couple of days that I started to talk to someone about it, I started noticing that they're throwing out a lot of terms that didn't make a hundred percent sense to me, or maybe I knew what they meant, but I wasn't sure exactly what it meant in the context that they were using it.

And these were terms around like raising capital, you know, raising money, capital structure, all of that. So this one book explained a lot of those concepts very clearly. And then very basically, and the book is called venture deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson. You can, you can obviously listen to the audio book, but there are some interesting, useful tables and examples to look at.

So if you can get your hand on the physical copy of the book, it'll be good. But the, the funny thing is that the whole title of the book is venture deals be smarter than your lawyer and venture capitalist. And that's just good advice all around for everyone. But but as we were talking about mentors and, you know, folks around you who can help you, you know, I, you know, I've come to learn that.

a lot to learn. [00:24:00] that's one thing I've learned is that there's a lot to learn. And so that book will, at least for me, it helped simply explain some of the concepts, but I can, I still heavily rely on our lawyers and my mentors to really explain deeply what You know, one of those situations mean in our context if, if I'm ever confused about anything and I think you obviously want to understand every term you're about to sign off on when you're, you know, doing a financing around or you're agreeing to something, you know, you're putting your signature that on the paper.

So that book helped me.

Olivier Really interesting. I never heard of that book before. I'm gonna check it

Artmiz G It's not a new book either. I think it's been around for a while and they've just updated the content a little bit here and there. It's just been really useful at like I said, just getting the basic concepts defined for me.

Olivier The business jargon. Yeah. It's I assume it has to be updated because they constantly change. It's interesting. All right. My next question. What famous entrepreneur alive or dead [00:25:00] would you like to go to coffee with and pick their brain if you could?

Artmiz G Can it be more than one person?

Olivier Yes.

Artmiz G Can it be more than just coffee? Can you like do a brunch with like a bunch of kick ass women?

Olivier Yes. Yeah. A hundred percent.

Artmiz G Like we'll invite Anne Marie slaughter and Cheryl Sandberg and Ariana Huffington and, and, and Susan Witsky and just like everybody else who I'm gonna regret for getting their names. And then we'll send out an invite to everyone. Oh, and Oprah, we gotta invite Oprah to this French.

Olivier Excellent. Excellent. It's gonna be a very expensive brunch, but why like what's the, the what's yeah, for sure. For sure. I guess, you know, open Winfrey, just getting there, but what's what's the one person we really would like to have a coffee with and say, or a brunch and say, I need to pick your brains.

This is like you've ex something unique about that person.

Artmiz G The, so the reason I'd like to do this brunch, actually we should do an annual brunch so we can like keep updating the [00:26:00] information that I'm taking in. For me it's so that I can see the world through their perspective. Every time I talk to someone. And, and I can, I, I try to understand the world from their perspective and the experiences that they've gone through.

It's just been so enlightening to me. And so sitting around a table with a bunch of women who I admire or admire something that they've done in their career, or that maybe I wanna replicate some part of their career in mind would really be helpful. And, and exciting to me.

Olivier Yeah, I agree. I agree. And it would be amazing just to be like a fly on the wall into one event like that. So that's amazing. All right. My last question. How could people reach you? What's the best way to reach out to you and connect with you and sort of. Talk to you.

Artmiz G well, I'm on LinkedIn under my name Artis go care. And maybe you'll share the link. So I don't have to spell my whole name. And if they wanna learn more about Latice they can find that's Latice spelled with [00:27:00] L a T Y S we misspelt it on purpose because we're a startup. And why wouldn't you and we also have a company linked in under the same name.

Please do feel free to reach out to me. I'd love to talk to you, whether you wanna start your entrepreneurship journey or your. At the end of it and all the way in between, if you wanna invest in Latice, if you wanna, you know, be a customer of lattice, feel free to reach out. I'll be happy to chat.

Olivier Excellent. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been an amazing pleasure to have you on.

Artmiz G Thank you very much for having me, Oliver. This is really fun.

Olivier Thanks again.

Olivier I want to thank you for joining us today. We hope that these podcasts give you some insights from the stories and experiences of the founders, entrepreneurs, and business owners who share with us. And we hope that you find some useful takeaways that help you along your own business journey. Like always please follow and leave us a review until next [00:28:00] time.