Oomnitza CEO Arthur Lozinski talks about an excellent pivot that is quite enlightening.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What kind of background did you have?
Arthur Lozinski: Both my parents were from the Soviet Union. I was born in the Soviet Union in a country called Latvia. It was in 1989 right before the wall fell. Both my parents grew up in the Soviet Union. There is a quote by Napoleon Bonaparte that says, “If you want to understand a man, you have to understand where he was in his 20s.” My parents grew up in communist Russia and my upbringing was influenced by that. Education was really important. I grew up in Germany. My parents emigrated to Germany when I was a small child and then we moved to the Silicon Valley just before high school.
I worked as an intern at SAT when I was in high school. Not long after, I went to Foothill College to finish my high school diploma so that I could work full time. I love software and technology. I always knew what I wanted to do and I thought that I wanted to work for SAT forever. It seemed like a great place and I learned a lot there.
I went to a university for about three or four months. After that, I decided to start a business, so I dropped out and started this business with Trent who was my neighbor in high school.
Sramana Mitra: Why did your parents move to Silicon Valley?
Arthur Lozinski: My father had a Ph.D. in Robotics. He got a job at a startup in Munster, Germany. He later ended up working in tech, so he moved with his family.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s come back to when you started your company. What year is this now?
Arthur Lozinski: The first company that I was a part of was in high school building longboards. There were a lot of products in between and various tech projects. I was trying to get money, because I never got allowances. I had to work for money. The Oomnitza company started in 2011. We incorporated in 2012 and went to the market in 2014.
Sramana Mitra: What was the concept? What did you want to build?
Arthur Lozinski: When we started in 2011, we were with Tesla Motors and Flextronics co-innovating in Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) in the cloud. The traditional vendors for EAM were companies like IBM, Maxima, and Oracle. A lot of those systems are legacy. We were trying to build this in the cloud.
In Tesla Motors, they were able to connect all of the robots, which run various codes like PLC codes or things that are not internet protocol. Machines were exposed via internet protocol. We were on track to say, “You can connect capital equipment, whether it’s on a shop floor or in a fleet of cars.”
The way we manage those devices will inherently change, so what would it look like? That was the concept. We started down this road. We started talking to a lot of manufacturing companies including Porsche and Nike because we wanted to help them manage the capital equipment.
What we found was companies saying, “None of our stuff is connected yet.” The investment to connect is a multi-year, multi-million dollar investment. We are not going to be able to put an application on top of that until much later. That was just the reality of the market at that time.
The challenges with laptops are similar to the challenges that you see in connected capital equipment. This is true for the Tesla cars. It’s a computer with wheels, but it has updating and patching instances. The location of it is important. Things have to be encrypted. There are operating systems and software installed on these machines. There is a GPU, CPU, sensors, and memory.
Components-wise and also business process-wise, they are much more similar than they are different. Companies like Maximo found that out early. They were bought by IBM.