When passion meets shrewd business acumen and technical expertise, the results achieved are transformative. A proficient tech-savvy leader, Simon Blyth truly exemplifies this statement. Simon is the Managing Director of LX Group, an innovative electronics, IoT, connected design and development company, specialising in the design of custom embedded systems and wireless technologies.
From a very young age, Simon had a passion for building things. From getting his first soldering iron at the age of 5 to creating a system to help the visually impaired using ultrasonic ranging glasses in high school, he was constantly drawn towards electronics and was always on the lookout for the next opportunity. “I could often see things that didn’t work efficiently and would try to figure out how technology could alleviate that inefficiency, or somehow make life better for someone in some way,” opines Simon.
It was his unwavering passion for new technology, electronics and the desire to build something that creates value for people that propelled him on the path of tech entrepreneurship.
Insightful Journey of Entrepreneurship
Throughout his school and university years, Simon has won many awards for technology and innovation. In his second year of university, a few mates and Simon won the Peter Farrell cup with an idea for a holographic interface system with non-contact holographic buttons. To commercialize the technology, he founded his first real company at Australian Technology Park. But unfortunately, they ran into some patents that limited their ability to raise capital. So, after a few stiff drinks and some reflection, they abandoned the venture.
Thereafter, when Simon returned to university to pursue his study, the experience of running a tech start-up inspired him to focus his thesis on something he’d actually use. So, along with his research partner, Kelly, who is now his life partner, developed three IoT products using ZigBee technology. IoT or the Internet of Things didn’t really have a name back then and was in the very nascent stages, however, the entrepreneur duo could see the potential and the opportunities with these technologies, and this thesis was really the starting point for LX.
The Growth Trajectory of LX
Kel and Simon wanted to build connected products with the new emerging ultra-low power wireless technologies. But with minimal founding capital, they also knew this would be a challenge. Technology products live and die on speed to market and it requires a lot of capital and capability to move fast and a team to execute it well. So, they set out to create an elite product development team with the resources and technical capability to build connected products. Their thesis supervisor, Professor Branco Cellar, was an entrepreneur himself who had started a telemedicine company. He became their first ‘client’ in the LX design house, tasking them with creating a telemedicine device and the company simply grew from there.
After the initial few formative years, it scaled rapidly, making the BRW Fast 100 multiple years in a row. And as it took on more and more clients across different industries and use cases, it became clear that there were core functionalities being requested across each project. That led to the development of the IoT acceleration engine, IoT Cores. “We took the common requirements that clients were asking for across projects and created a full-stack acceleration platform that would enable rapid prototyping and reduce risk and time to market for a lot of our customers. IoT Cores also became the foundation for the products we were building for use in static sensing and tracking across multiple use cases,” elucidates Simon.
Relinquishing the Challenges
One of the key challenges that LX is addressing today is making these new technologies accessible for users at the SME level. When a new technology emerges, it’s often clunky or inaccessible and requires heavy change management investment. This generally precludes smaller enterprise businesses from taking on new technology because they simply don’t have the time, money, or staff to deploy it effectively. Simon believes that there is so much opportunity in the SME space for these technologies. And, the impact they can have at this scale is often greater relative to the size of the business, because the margins are smaller at that level and anything that improves efficiency or reduces wastage can mean real material gains for a business. That is why when Simon and his team created the LX IoT product ecosystem, they set out to make devices that were cost-effective, easy to deploy and use, and delivered a slick, intuitive end-user experience. “It is inevitable that IoT adoption will eventually become ubiquitous and accessible but to a degree, I think we’re ahead of that curve with the products we’ve created. We were driven to solve the challenge by creating IoT devices that were inspired by ‘Apple’ style values. Like the iPhone and other products, we wanted something that just worked straight out of the box, was Plug ’n Play and high quality. I think that’s also something that makes us stand out in the industry,” asserts Simon.
The next challenge for LX is to educate the users on the possibilities of what IoT can do for their business. “What we’re trying to do now is to broaden people’s knowledge around the possibilities of this technology. And when users start coming to us and asking for new functionality or new reporting sets, or even building new reporting applications themselves, we’ll know we’ve solved that,” adds Simon.
Motivated To Help Build a Better World
On the entrance wall of the LX office, there is an interesting quote by Thomas Edison, which says ‘There’s a way to do it better, find it. This is one of the core values at LX that aligns its activities to consistently deliver against its purpose. As a leader, Simon always encourages his team to push the boundaries of what is possible with these technologies, and keep thinking about the next 5 – 15 years in their design approach, rather than just the now.
According to Simon, one of the key challenges with developing any technology is trying to avoid immediate obsolescence because technology can move so quickly and you have to be thinking about what is coming next. In fact, the tagline of LX is ‘Next Starts Now’ and the company tries to bring that thinking to its products. “At the heart of what motivates us is that the products we create help the world do things better and we are passionate about making a positive impact at scale,” affirms Simon.
Continues Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation
Currently, LX is focusing on bringing its product ecosystem to market and testing it against real-world customers and applications. But, rather than just sitting back and seeing those products being sold and used successfully, Simon plans to start working on the next thing, the next opportunity. “Technology is a fast-moving beast and I can already see the opportunities coming down the track with technologies such as blockchain and AI. I want to chase those opportunities and be at the forefront of the innovation that is possible with them. And I’m lucky that my team share that passion, so it’s likely that we won’t ever be ‘finished’ with the product ecosystem. It will grow and evolve to include new technologies as they emerge and I’m looking forward to what that looks like for the LX team and our products, concludes Simon.