There's one common trait everyone at BrightAI shares—a thirst for knowledge and a passion for life-long learning.
We talked to Kyle LeNeau, BrightAI’s SVP, Engineering, about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, why curiosity is essential for full scale tech solutions, and how he helps customers see what’s really possible.
What makes BrightAI able to find solutions other tech companies miss?
A lot of tech companies specialize in one thing, but BrightAI is a full stack organization.
It’s typical for a company to just do hardware, or the cloud, or mobile. The fact that BrightAI brings them all together was a big selling point for me wanting to join the team. Between hardware to software on the edge… to the cloud in the middle… to the end consumer applications and portals—Bright covers it all. So the fact we are able to control the entire stack is exciting. Looking at the puzzle around businesses who need to transform into IoT—then adding intelligence through AI to create AIoT devices—really clicked for me. It allows us to innovate solutions that siloed companies simply can’t.
What advantages do your customers get from BrightAI being full stack?
There are other companies that will deliver one part of the solution to you. For example, they may just develop the hardware. But, in order to see the full value in that hardware, you need a lot of other engineering efforts to get the right data insights out of it.
BrightAI looks at the whole picture from start to finish. So not only do we give you the hardware you need to be successful, we give you the platform you need to integrate it and the applications your end consumers need to use it. Since our team has a wide variety of experience in different products, we can create solutions, soup to nuts.
What gets you most excited about the innovations BrightAI brings to its customers?
As an engineer, I love solving problems. So figuring out how we can solve problems for these big analog enterprises is super compelling. But I’m most excited about the depth and breadth we have in different industries. I didn’t know when I started that I’d be touring a wastewater plant learning about what their concerns are.
Once we start sharing how we can get our customers insights they’ve never had before, that usually snowballs into more brainstorming and ideating on the art of what’s possible. So these analog businesses go from starting a site visit with the attitude, “this is hard, this isn’t possible,” to feeling excited and confident about the possibilities.
Take our customer in the water treatment space that I just mentioned. Right now, their employees use human sensing. Wastewater employees are trained to walk around and listen. If you do this enough times in your day, you start to realize, “oh that fan doesn’t sound right,” or “that motor sounds off.”
They are training humans to do this sensing, but we can do this all with better-that-human AIoT sensors. They’ve never thought about that before.
Some of these places don’t have engineering teams or a lot of tech experience. So when we can come to the table with a full solution, the customer is very appreciative. That’s a huge win. I always like the reward of knowing people are genuinely happy.
You’re incredibly knowledgeable about tech, yet you manage to break down complicated ideas easily. How do you communicate with non-tech customers so well?
It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s a fun opportunity, too. One of the things I’ve picked up on in leadership is that everybody learns differently. So what I find helpful is putting my team in the customer’s shoes and using examples they can relate to.
For example, a lot of our solutions require connectivity to the outside world—and there are a lot of different ways to provide that connectivity. That core concept is the same when you get the internet in your home. Usually, you’re given a router or something by your cable provider to connect to the web. That’s an example that makes connectivity really relatable to someone without a lot of tech experience.
My other method of helping our customers understand what we are doing is communication mechanisms. I’m personally a visual learner, so I always consider if I can draw a picture or illustrate something.
There are a bunch of different ways to communicate an idea. Know your audience, discover how they learn, and figure out what will resonate with them.
You’re part of BrightAI’s Executive Leadership Team. What does being a good leader mean to you?
I think of leadership as being a multiplier, so I try to wear many hats to multiply the effectiveness of my team. That means working directly with customers and working on all the things that go out to customers like applications, the core platform, hardware, and embedded work. And since we’re a start-up, I still write some code.
I try to lead by example, and I encourage my team to communicate with each other. Because we have this full stack nature, it’s interesting to see how different departments deal with similar problems. Someone working in the edge may be dealing with the same challenges as someone working in AI, but they don’t know it. So I try to see across these disciplines and offer guidance.
I try to get different engineers to talk to each other because I know they are going to get a lot of value from one another. Getting our teams to work together and not be so siloed has been a big driver in what type of organization we want to build. We want everyone to be hungry to learn, and to be comfortable with being uncomfortable while something is still new to them. Having a zest for knowledge really embodies the spirit of BrightAI.
Interested in hearing more from BrightAI’s thought leaders? Discover how our other founders are helping transform multiple industries through next generation AI. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to schedule an interview with any one of our founders, email us at email@example.com.