We talked to Mauro Rubin, CEO JoinPad, about offering Augmented Reality (AR) solutions to simplify industrial processes such as maintenance, inspections, training, and remote support, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mauro Rubin: We are doing fine, thank you. Months ago, we had contracted the virus like many other people but thankfully in a mild form. Now, we can’t wait to go back to living a normal social life without using a device. We are confident in scientific progress, and I believe that 2020 has been a breakthrough year for our lives in terms of relationships, business, and global world vision.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded JoinPad.
Mauro Rubin: Since childhood, I have always had a passion for computer science. I wrote my first lines of code when I was 11 years old. Then, I joined the army at 18 and taught skydiving for years, where I had the opportunity to test a VR simulator for training. Since that moment, the encounter with virtual worlds has influenced my life. I took my leave, went back to school, and worked for large consulting firms. In 2010 I founded JoinPad, my company, to innovate in the industrial sector by developing pioneering technologies based on Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence.
How does JoinPad innovate?
Mauro Rubin: JoinPad offers Augmented Reality (AR) solutions to simplify industrial processes such as maintenance, inspections, training, and remote support. Our platform allows you to transfer the knowledge required to complete a task from an AI agent or expert professional to another human being. Imagine being in front of an object that you do not know, on which you have to do maintenance operations, or you have to make it work. By framing the object with your smartphone camera, our application can recognize the object and provide you with all the information necessary to solve the problem. If necessary, you can ask for the support of a remote expert user who can virtually indicate the actions to be taken.
During this Covid emergency, our applications are used daily by many companies in the industrial sector to limit workers’ movement (and therefore working safely), continuing to provide support to their customers remotely and reducing intervention times and costs.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Mauro Rubin: Since the first days of March 2020, the whole team began working from home. Our processes have not been affected by the reorganization as the tools used to manage the team, and related tasks had already been widely used for years. We make weekly conference calls to align ourselves on the projects and the progress of the team. Undeniably, the social aspect is missing, and the video call can only partially replace it. I believe that personal relationships are critical to creating a positive and lasting working ecosystem.
During the pandemic, we started a humanitarian initiative to offer our technology for free to all those operating in areas affected by Covid. More information about the “Smart Assistance for Good” program can be found on our website.
In January 2020, we started collaborating with LLVision, a Chinese company specializing in Smart Glasses’ production in China, to bring our solution to hospitals, healthcare professionals, and citizens facing the Coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan. The goal was to help doctors prevent and contain the infection by using Smart Assistance to remotely provide an initial diagnosis and communicate health measures to the population.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Mauro Rubin: I don’t think I had to make difficult decisions, only the decisions that had to be made at a time of a particular crisis. In these moments, as an entrepreneur, you may have doubts about the choice to make, but the only thing you cannot afford to do is remain still waiting for something to happen. In terms of market, we move in an unexplored field, many of the certainties we had pre-Covid have collapsed, but in a society that deals with innovation, adapting to change is part of our DNA.
A lesson I have learned is that to make a company more resilient; we must replicate what we already do in the IT world: reproduce business models in different geographic areas, on different markets, so that, if one of these should decline, others will allow the company to survive. It is why we have other branches in the United States and China.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Mauro Rubin: During the pandemic, we went from face-to-face meetings to video conferencing only. The process hasn’t changed much. As an international company, we were already using the necessary digital tools to work remotely before the emergency began.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Mauro Rubin: We benefited from government grants available to all companies during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. It certainly helped to deal with the initial period of uncertainty. Still, we supported our business through our AR products, which registered an increase in demand as they perfectly fit the new digital remote work age.
Your final thoughts?
Mauro Rubin: This emergency has physically affected some people, sometimes severely, whereas it has psychologically distressed all of us. I believe that, in moments of crisis, we must analyze and understand our world better but, above all ourselves. It is in these situations that we evolve, grow and become stronger. When I was in the Italian army, the paratroopers’ mantra we used to recite was “Adapt and reach the goal. Anything can happen to you, but no one can stop time, and sooner or later, everything changes”.
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