#ConnectedConf: Interview with Vibhu Norby, b8ta’s Founder & CEO

May 10, 2016
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Barely two weeks before Connected Conference, we interviewed Vibhu Norby, one of our many speakers during the conference, and CEO of b8ta, the first brick-and-mortar retailer designed to help shoppers discover, experience, and buy the latest tech and IoT products.

 

Connected Conference is all about the intersection of Industry & the Internet. Where do you fit in this intersection?

We are bringing the best of the internet to traditional retail, in more ways than one. At b8ta, we introduce many connected devices to brick & mortar retail that were previously only available online, and our store is also a connected object itself: controlled by software, measured by sensors & cameras. We modeled our entire store after the process of setting up an online shop — easy online sign-up, creation of your in-store display through a modern web app, and tools to measure and understand your retail audience and make meaningful changes.

 

People are buying connected objects more and more often, and mostly online. What is the barrier in retail to get them to shop at a physical store instead of online?

b8ta isn’t here to change the shopping behavior of people. Physical stores aren’t necessarily right for every company or category. But, if you make a physical product, and a key part of educating people about your connected device is for potential customers to try it or see it in-person, brick & mortar is a great fit. At b8ta in particular, we created a space for people to check out products in-person before they buy, but we don’t have an opinion on whether someone should walk out of our store with the box ultimately, or buy it elsewhere.

 

Among the products you sell at b8ta, which are your favorites?

I love all of our products equally. C’mon! The products I like are those that actually let you solve a real problem, rather than just add a pretty face over the output of a couple of sensors. We see products all the time that measure but don’t solve.

 

What will be the next big thing in consumer IoT?

I hope to see companies create products that change how we live, like the iPhone, microwave, washing machine, and fridge did. A lot of IoT products made today are just augmenting or redesigning some existing thing but adding software. For example, most connected locks work identically to old locks, just with an app. I look for hardware products that give us more time back. I don’t think we’ve yet seen a consumer IoT product that’s an absolute game changer — no IoT products have more than a couple percent market share over their non-connected equivalents.

 

What are you looking to find at Connected Conference?

We’re coming to Connected Conference because it’s the most efficient way for our team to meet everyone that matters in IoT in Europe. We hope to come back to Palo Alto with some great new products for our store and inspired by the future we’re crafting together.

 

The conference will take place May 25th to 27th in Paris. 3,000 attendees (product-builders, innovators, distributors, journalists, partners & investors) from 50 countries (Europe, Asia & the Americas) are expected to explore the convergence of Internet and Industry for this 3rd edition. Check out the speakers list, and get your tickets on Eventbrite!