Advisor: Robert Heiblim
Industry: Consumer technology
Areas of Expertise: Consumer technology, consumer goods, and the Internet of Things. Has worked on, led, and managed the sales of hundreds of millions of devices through every channel and vertical in the world. Advisory experience with public firms, institutional investors, and private equity on investments, acquisitions and mergers in the space. Ability to speak to the technologies, markets, trends, and outlook for these verticals and forecast them in detail
We recently had a chance to catch up with consumer technology industry expert Robert Heiblim who is based out of New Jersey and has held almost every job in the consumer technology supply chain. Below is a recap of our conversation, with responses edited for clarity.
InquireOf: What are the most interesting trends you see in your industry today?
Robert: One prominent trend is the convergence of things: think of Uber and Lyft. There are many disruptive products built on these trends. Robotics, AI, automation, etc. are all on the rise, which will result in labor and skillset disruption, but we've always had that since the Industrial Revolution.
At the same time, security and privacy are rising issues that many market participants are not taking seriously at all; they will have grave consequences if they don't. Companies making huge bets in the smart home market will only pay out well if they take privacy seriously.
InquireOf: What shifts have you seen over the last five years in your industry?
Robert: The largest impact on the consumer technology industry has been the smartphone, which is one of the most ubiquitous products on Earth. Connected devices that run software have enabled the Internet of Things, which can then activate many other products connected to the network. It shows up as Amazon changing the face of retail. Most people have internet on their phone; there are more smartphones sold per year than laptops.
Smartphones can run software to do almost anything. We've gone from a world of buttons and switches to software. This reach impacts marketing too; now we have to reach people on their phones and adapt to the way they use their devices. We have essentially eliminated the effect of geography; the world used to be based on where we went and what was accessible to us.
InquireOf: What trends should people look to see in the next 18-24 months?
Robert: The launch of 5G will take place in that timeframe. We'll also see expanding use of Machine Learning/AI and the growth of connected devices (from your automobile to the items in your home). Finally, MicroLED will likely be the successor to OLED.
Why Connect with Robert?
Robert has been in the consumer technology industry for decades and has personally or led teams that have developed, marketed, and sold myriad devices (for example, compact discs all the way to Blu-ray DVDs). He has worked on digital encoding, streaming, the first iPod docking speaker, the first bluetooth speaker, etc.
Robert is an expert on taking ideas and turning them into real products and executing distribution through the entire product lifecycle. As an advisor, his strengths are product strategy, forecasting, and product lifecycle management. Robert reviews where things are going, what tech to use, what the markets look like, and what consumers look like. Has done almost every job in the supply chain, which has been useful in his work with private equity and venture capital firms.
Fun fact: Robert’s favorite recent vacation was a trip to St Bart’s where he enjoyed windsurfing.
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