Fremont-based IoT (Internet of Things) company Tend Insights sells sleek and connected home safety devices that “ensure things are okay so you can move on with your life.” These products are the result of a long journey for March Startup Grind guest, CEO Herman Yau. His dream began in 2008 – which was, by his admission, a different era.  “I was starting a cloud company before there was even a cloud,” Yau joked. But the real journey from smart cameras to IoT devices started many years before that.

Yau is the quintessential home-grown entrepreneur.  Moving to the area at age 10 from Taiwan, his dad owned a tech business in Fremont.  Yau would often accompany him to the office, a place where he would later incubate his own business as a non-rent paying tenant.  “From my early days, I’ve seen entrepreneurship in action.”  He also credits growing up amidst two different cultures as valuable perspective for a business owner.

Yau spoke about the intricacies of being in the IoT business, which a blends three competencies:  hardware, software, and services.  He advised the audience to focus on where you’re creating value, and to “be as close to the customer as you can.”  And although Yau views the environment for consumer products as “challenging,” he noted that IoT is chip based, and therefore it’s “easy to predict the future.”  He urged new companies to take the time to be thoughtful about their approach.  “[You may] love to build things, but you have to force yourself to slow down to determine and defend the value of your product.”

Yau predicts that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area that will soon flatten because it’s “application focused,” which allows entrepreneurs to create barriers to entry.  There is no such thing as “general AI.”

Yau also advised the audience to resist being overly secretive.  “Ideas are cheap; execution is king.”  It’s what you do in advance, such as lead-generation and building awareness, that really matter.  He noted that “a lot of things that win innovation awards never get built.”

But perhaps Herman’s greatest contribution to Silicon Valley will be how he’s paying it forward to the next generation.  He proudly relayed that his fourth grade daughter “dreams of building robots to explore black holes.”  Perhaps Startup Grind Fremont will host the third generation of Yau entrepreneurs in years to come!

In the meantime, we will hear from Sramana Mitra, founder of One Million by One Million (1Mby1M), on April 26.  1Mby1M is a global virtual accelerator that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond.  Mitra is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, and she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy.  She is also the author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020.  In 2015, she was named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Influencers.

Startup Grind Fremont is the Silicon Valley East chapter of the international business startup community that has hosted more than 2,000 fireside chats across 200 cities and 85 countries.  At monthly events, the local entrepreneurial community gathers to mingle, learn, find mentorship, pursue funding, and gain new customers.  You can find additional information and purchase your tickets here: