Channeling Innovation: How Does It Happen?

Sure-Fi CEO Mark Hall (center) discusses Sure-Fi radio with engineers Chris Johnson (right) and Greg Perkins (left).

“I come from a family of innovators, but in honesty, I was just looking at ways to use technology to improve the life of my family,” he says.

In 2010, as the Internet of Things (IoT) and wireless apps were beginning, Mark was thinking of ways to address the challenges he and his wife faced as the parents of five children, including two boys with autism (one severely disabled to the degree he now requires private care). At the time, it was extremely difficult for his wife to leave the home for even the smallest errands such as shopping for groceries.

As Mark describes the challenges, he and other families face he noted that for some, the solution is “back stocking”—utilizing large amounts of kitchen and pantry space to stock high inventory levels of food and consumables, paper goods and supplies.

Another was the early advent of grocery deliveries. Amazon had started the idea to a degree, but services were beginning in isolated locations such as Seattle and LA. The Ubers and Door Dashes of the world did not yet exist.

Then he hired someone to stock the Hidden Butler with everything a family would need for the week. Mark’s wife would receive the list on an app and could alter it or let it automatically repeat. In its first year, 18 families signed up. They loved it at first, but ultimately it cost too much to sustain. “People are picky when it comes to groceries,” he said.

The problem he was never able to solve was the need for a garage keypad people could program remotely with specific PIN numbers to allow the delivery person to get in.

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