The Internet of Things (IoT) has been rapidly growing in recent years and has become a key driver of digital transformation across multiple industries. With the market maturation of IoT technologies, partnerships have emerged as a critical component for success in the industry. Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships Tripp Coultrip and Channel Sales Manager Michelle Medlock share how partnerships allow companies to leverage each other's resources and expertise to overcome challenges and develop innovative IoT solutions that meet the evolving needs of consumers and businesses.
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Carson: Welcome back everyone to our Link Labs podcast, Get Linked. I'm your host Carson Garner, and I'm super excited for you guys to listen to our episode today. On today's episode, we have two very special guests joining us, Link Labs, Tripp Coultrip and Michelle Medlock. Tripp is our Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, and Michelle is our Channel Sales Manager. Today, we're gonna be talking about the role that partnerships play, specifically within the IoT industry. So Tripp, Michelle, thank you guys so much for joining me today.
Tripp: Hey Carson, hey Michelle, thrilled to join the podcast today.
Carson: Yeah, I'm so happy to have you guys. So before we begin talking about partnerships, could you guys give a little bit of a backstory of yourself and your experience working in this industry? Tripp, we'll go ahead and start with you.
Tripp: Yeah, absolutely. So I've been really blessed. I've had a successful and diversified career across the board in consulting, healthcare, technology and logistics. Over that time, the opportunity to lead multiple teams, keeping track of people and their valuable assets was at the forefront of allowing the business to stay focused on profitable revenue and growth using IoT tracking solutions. So really a key part of multiple successful startups through the early stage, through IPO, the essential focus has always been at the core strategic partners. And in my experience, adding those and expanding those partnerships has really allowed us to scale and it's what's allowing Link Labs to scale as well.
Michelle: Yeah, so I've been in the wireless industry since 2001. So I started slinging bag phones and pagers, you know, back in the day, for the analog days. And just evolved, you know. I got a degree in web design, which means nothing in my career. So I've got a degree I don't use, and it was one of those things where I was like, oh, I'll sell some cell phones while I'm in college and then I'm out of here, right? And never left. And so I worked my way through, actually through retail when IoT was really becoming a thing. It wasn't just a buzzword anymore. People were starting to actually know what it was. And starting off in just like fleet tracking, et cetera, I knew I wanted to do more. So I became a solutions architect and being on, I should say the other side of the fence, right? As a solutions architect, I was dealing with our vendors through the wireless industry. And I knew there were things lacking in that relationship piece. So when I got the opportunity to jump the fence and become a channel partner manager for IoT companies, I kind of found my calling. Just learning how to nurture relationships and knowing what was important so that both companies can grow, right? Because that's the whole point of a partnership. I help you and you help me and we're in it together. So I really just found my passion over probably the last six to seven years. Plus it still gives me a chance to solutionize and play in the industry and stay close to tech, but care more about people in those relationships as well.
Carson: Yeah, I like how you said it's your passion, how helping people and helping, not just your company, but the other company's success is your passion. That's great. So you both are relatively new to Link Labs. How are you enjoying it so far?
Tripp: Oh, it's been awesome. We started the same day and I have often said we are beyond blessed to have this opportunity to be part of a once in a lifetime journey. So, as I mentioned, it's just been wonderful. We're really blessed to be part of something that everybody is really, really devoted to.
Carson: Great. So, Tripp, a big trend in the technology industry, specifically this year, is the maturation of the IoT industry. Bob had a keynote a couple of months ago where he talked about the importance of how mature the IoT industry is becoming. The IoT market is highly saturated right now, and some major players like Google are dropping out in certain spaces. Smaller technology providers are worried about the longevity of their companies. What steps can these companies take to avoid falling victim to the negative aspects of this trend?
Tripp: That's a great question. In hearing that Google may be dropping out, probably not for too long, knowing Google. But I think at the end of the day, really a vital step to longevity in any industry or market, but especially technology, is partnering with other companies. I mean, I think at the end of the day it allows companies to fill each other's needs.Because you really can't do it all by yourself. And with strategic partners, it allows you to remain flexible and focused on what you do best while your partners do what they do best. So you can synergistically grow. So those synergistic partnerships really allow you to exponentially expand and shorten your timeframe to add new customers. So I think it's just imperative across the board. Companies, every industry has it. Companies will come and go, companies will be acquired. But at the end of the day, if you've got the best in class technology like Link Labs, you have an ability to partner with so many as they already have relationships and that's where our partnership program really succeeds.
Carson: Yeah, and you have a lot of experience in this partnership realm. What would you say is the best way to show your potential partner that you do have the best technology?
Tripp: Yeah, you know, I'm a big fan of having them talk to our really our key customers that already have longevity and experience with Link labs. Yeah. So at the end of the day, if you think about it, I know I've said at the end of the day a couple of times here, but I really truly believe it's so simple for Link Labs, right? We have, you know, we have the track record, we have the experience. I think it's more a matter of just more people getting to know that really when they're looking for asset tracking, Link Labs is the solution for so many reasons, we can touch on those as well.
Carson: Yeah, and we have an amazing engineering team too, behind our technology that's just continually not complacent with the technology, they're continuously trying to improve all of our product offerings. So yeah, Michelle, how would you say that these partnerships equip companies to survive in such a highly competitive market?
Michelle: So, it's kind of one of those things, right? When you have a partnership and you're cohesive in that partnership, there's a lot of give and take and there's a lot of support. I know that one of our biggest partners, we just had a discussion the other day and I said, how can I help you? How can I sit down with you and go through your book of accounts and help you reach out to your customer base? Because maybe there's something they haven't seen, right? Or maybe there's something they haven't noticed or maybe there's something that we weren't aware of. You just, you end up with a support group almost, right? So everybody that's in our partner program is 100% backed and supported by us. And then you turn that around and it's the same way, right? Because we all bring different strengths to the table. And when you get that many people who are in a trusted advisor role and truly trying to provide a solution for the end customer and everybody's got the same goal at the end of the day, you're almost unbeatable. And so, you know, coming together and just really having that strong partnership, I feel is almost better than trying to be the lone guy, right? Because the more people you have in your corner, the better for anything I feel like.
Carson: And you know going out there and getting people to help us and to add on to our talent is just, you know, it's going to be a game changer.
Michelle: Oh yea, I feel like we learned something from our partners every day.
Tripp: Without question.
Carson: Yeah. Yeah. Well, what types of companies are, you know, the best to partner with?
Michelle: Um, you know, so when you're talking about types of companies, with us being in the IoT space and being in that asset visibility space, obviously we want somebody who already has a relationship brewing with our end customer, right? Whether that's in logistics, whether that's manufacturing, whether that's healthcare now. And I know that we're expanding into some other areas too, but we really look for somebody that's got a relationship already and kind of some knowledge in the industry. But maybe they just didn't know the technology existed. I think one of the things that we really hear from our partners is, I didn't know we could get that granular. I didn't know this existed. This is everything I've been looking for, right? And so those types of partners who are excited, who are looking to grow and who already have that relationship in the space to really build that portfolio. And then we come in as the support and say, absolutely, we've got that solution and we're gonna help you take that to your customer base.
Carson: Absolutely. So Tripp, what are the different types of partnerships?
Tripp: Link Labs is great because we really have an ability to customize with each individual partner. From the simplest format where a partner is a referral program, right? But really as we get into our reseller program where our partners do resell our hardware and technology and software. Those partners can do everything and basically bring us into the relationship with their current customers, right? And we can handle everything from solutioning, install, and even support. But we also have partners who handle everything with their customers. And we are basically behind the scenes providing the best in class service, software and hardware technology.
Carson: So why would you say, Tripp, that someone should partner with us?
Tripp: You know, I think at the end of the day, we're just blessed. We have, like I've just touched on, the best in class, but really we have the best people that work with, right? From the top down, from our engineers who handle everything to our support staff, we've got the ability to not only give that white glove experience to all our customers, but we also have the technology to back it up.
Carson: Well, let's break down an example. So Link Labs is an asset tracking solution provider, the global leader in asset tracking solutions, but we have partners and are always looking for more partners. What is an example of a specific type of partner we are looking for, Michelle?
Michelle: Yeah, so kind of I touched on that earlier, right? So let's just say that I've been in the manufacturing space for a long time. Maybe I'm selling into these manufacturers, whether that be equipment, whether that be tools, or safety, etc. And I'm ready to take it up a notch. I'm ready to expand my services to my clientele, but I don't really know where to look. That's where Tripp was saying, right? So here comes that support piece. Because from the minute you come to us and say, hey, I'm interested, what do I need to know? We fill you with education, with marketing materials, with training, with support. And we really sit down and say, what's gonna best suit you? Because not all partners are prepared to, hire tier one, tier two troubleshooting or to hire installers or, some of these people are just lone sole proprietors. And we welcome them. We absolutely welcome them from sole proprietors to large enterprises. But like Tripp was saying, when they come to us, we custom fit our partner solutions. And we introduce you to, like you were saying, everybody from VP of Sales to the CEO to engineering, you're gonna know everyone and the names are gonna be familiar and you're going to have an actual partnership. You're not just drop shipping a situation, right? Like we never want a partner to feel that way. So I'd say that is the strongest example is just building that relationship. And that's what we would do in the very beginning and just make sure that any partner coming on feels welcome and part of the Link Labs family. I mean, because at that point, you're one of us.
Carson: Well, you've talked about how partnerships are so different and how some of them are smaller, some of them are bigger. How do you determine what type of material to give these partners?
Michelle: Yeah, so it just comes in conversation, I feel like. You have your go-tos, right, like marketing materials, data sheets, right, you know, training slides and videos and things like that. But I think that's one of the things too that Link Labs does really well is we have multiple mediums, right? Like so...if you're somebody who likes presentation style, you like to have printouts in your hands because you're going into businesses, you're knocking on doors, we've got that for you. If you're somebody who wants to send links to YouTube videos, we've got that for you. You know, we really have a toolbox full of education and material. So just during the onboarding conversation, that's just what it comes down to, like what's gonna best fit your needs? What is your sales style? What is your learning style? And that's when we go back to the toolbox and start checking boxes of everything that our partner's gonna need.
Carson: Yeah, and we'll give a quick shout out to the amazing marketing team at Link Labs. Cause at times they get underrated a little bit, but they're coming out with some great stuff.
Tripp: I don't know who's underrating them Carson, cause they're pretty awesome. Let me know who those people are.
Carson: You know I was just fishing for a compliment from you Tripp, right?
Tripp: Hey, you don't need to fish man. Kudos are always coming because you guys really do a great job. You know, at the end of the day, I've worked with a lot of teams and a lot of marketing teams. You guys are doing an amazing job with the resources you have today.
Carson: Thanks. That means a lot. What would you say is the biggest mistake that a tech company can make during this time of maturation?
Tripp: Yeah. Good question. You know, I think at the end of the day, I mean, it's truly. And again, there it goes, at the end of the day. I say again, that might be five times. But I think truly and real simply, it's just being close-minded. I mean, if you don't look at the trends that are going on in your business, especially technology, you can go to bed and wake up and something new is occurring, right? And if you're blinded, a lot of big behemoths, they always say the market leader may, the 800 pound gorilla, if that company doesn't get flexible and doesn't figure out ways to change and kind of work on the fly, they get stale. And you think about when a company gets stale, what happens? Customers start to realize, think about any company you've worked with, I don't know, I'm thinking back to what companies don't exist, the first one that came to mind, Blockbuster Video, obviously streaming changed that whole thing. But at the end of the day, look at Netflix today, Netflix is a behemoth.Right? And it's simply because the technology changed, but the customers also demanded once they realized they didn't have to go to a store every day. So if you think about it, it's really simple, right? Listen to what customers are saying, but also find the companies and partners in technology, they can get you there. And I think that that's how companies can, you know, stay away from these kinds of pitfalls. And again, at Link Labs we are blessed because at the end of the day, six,, we really have the solution for all customers, whether it be massive size, whether it be smaller, we've got everything in our tool set to be able to figure out a good solution for those companies.
Carson: Well not me, man. I missed my five minute drive over to the local Blockbuster. Yeah.
Michelle: Can we get a counter in the bottom right corner every time Tripp says at the end of the day? I would love to see later..
Tripp: I have a photographic memory that picked up at least five or six, but yeah, you know, it's funny because my kids don't even know that non-streaming is a thing, right? Like think about that. It's not just blockbuster. Like the whole concept of VHS taste. Well, Carson, you may be too young to even know those, but VHS, CDs, DVDs, like those were all things that we were passionate about. Because we couldn't wait to get the new DVD or CD. That doesn't even exist today.
Carson: Yeah. Wow. That's crazy. And even like Bluetooth movies, like when you would put your CD in and watch a movie on your PlayStation or whatever, that's even going out now. Blue, wait, what was it called? Blue- Blu-ray. That's what it was. Blu-ray. Yeah.
Tripp: Yeah, come on. Why do you do Blu-ray when you can download in 4K, right? Like, no point.
Carson: Yeah. I'm stuck at Link Labs. I'm thinking about Bluetooth all the time. So, Tripp, you mentioned that companies would go stale if they made that mistake, but what's some other ways that companies would, or what would happen to them if they made that mistake?
Tripp: Well I don't wanna speak negatively about anything in this world, but I think at the end of the day, seven, that across the board is really simple, right? You get the right people that are smart enough to always be looking and thinking, you know, whether it be trade shows or reading or just figuring out industry friends and bringing that leadership. Because what happens is people get kind of a follow the leader mode and they think, oh, we're doing great. We have, we're the number one, we're the biggest company. But if you don't look at what's going on around you, I think that it's very simple. Things can get like, like you touched on, and I touched on stale. And what stale means is customers are not, they may stick with you for a while, but as new flashier, brighter things come out, right? Kind of the flashy object, you know, you think back to another analogy. You've got cell phones, all of a sudden nobody can text, then they've got Blackberry. I had a Blackberry, you were probably, you were born, I think.
Carson: My dad had one.
Tripp: Yeah, and I thought there's no way I could type these fat fingers on an iPhone screen, you know, because I could do the Blackberry behind my back. Today, Blackberry only exists in enterprise security software. iPhone is it. And I love my iPhone, right? So at the end of the day, as long as you stay active in the trends and in new things that are coming, I think every company can remain. And it's never too late, right? I mean, I just think it's a matter of the people looking around them to make sure they're on the right path. And if they're not, you know, maybe bring it up and figure out a plan to get there.
Carson: Yeah. And like Tripp said, we don't want to talk badly about any other company, but that was kind of set up to ask Michelle, how do partnerships help fix these mistakes, this staleness that comes with not being mature in this space?
Michelle: Yeah, so partnerships are about communication, right? And strategy. I mean, literally it's in Tripp's title, Strategic Partnerships. Like one example I can think about, and Apple's already done it, Apple does things well. We know that, right? Like Steve Jobs was smart enough to know to surround himself with people smarter than him. If you're the smartest person in the room, you're probably doing it wrong. And one of the best things that Apple did, if you look back, one of their most strategic partnerships was Dr. Dre, Beats. Who even remembers now that Dr. Dre owned beats, right? But at the end of the day, Tripp, Apple knew that we needed a strategic partnership because this is where we lack. We lack in this space. Somebody's doing it better than us. What do we have to do? Right? And so, that's how we look at it. You know, we have partnerships with people that are doing things better than us. And that's a good thing. When we have partnerships with people that say, hey, your technology is better than what I've seen, but I've got relationships that you wouldn't believe, I can do that part better than you, then I'm like, roll with it, right? And so that's where partnerships save some of these companies because I know what I know, I've got the technology to back it, but they also know what they know and maybe they just need that technology and that support to say, roll with it, now take it out and go. And so I think what is important is really keeping that line of communication open with your partner and really going in and saying, here's where I'm vulnerable, here's where I need help. And then we can turn around and say, absolutely, we can fix that for you.
Carson: And I remember that partnership. I remember when I was, how old was I? Maybe 17, I got my first MacBook and it came with a free pair of beats. That was like the best day of my life, right?
Tripp: Yeah. I'll tell you who else remembers that partnership in the final call was Dr. Dre's bank account.
Carson: Yeah, for sure. Like he needed any more money, right?
Tripp: I know, but you know what? God bless, he's a good businessman.
Carson: Yeah, he is. So I guess my last question, this one's kind of gonna go to both of you guys. What do you see for the future of Link Labs and partnerships? I know we've talked about, you know, the importance of partnerships, but what specifically do you see for Link Labs?
Tripp: You know, I'll kick it off here because at the end of the day, eight, nine, maybe, I have to be honest. You know, I had a lot of suitors, right? Looking at companies that I could have joined. And when I met this team and I understood and I got my hands around the technology and kind of the path to where we're going, all I could think to myself is not only is it really a once in a lifetime journey, to be part of something, but a once in a lifetime journey that's exciting across the board. Like we're doing things at the front edge of not only IoT technology, but also what businesses need today. Because for being able to keep track of people and your available assets, the sky's the limit. There's no single person that could sit down and tell you, I can't think of something I wouldn't want to track, right? You know, you think about it, just a simple AirTag, right? Like, believe me, I have them in my wallet, soon to be Link Labs solutions, but you know, I personally love to be able to track things, including my young kids. And the ability for us to do that on an enterprise level, with seamless indoor and outdoor, gives us such a runway to success and expansion that there really is, not to say we don't have great competitors and most likely ones that we can also work side by side with at the end of the day, 10. But really we have a true solution to help every company out there figure out the best way to keep track of all of their valuable assets and people. I said it once already, but the sky's the limit and I think that sitting here in a couple of years, looking back on these days and thinking, wow, remember when we did a podcast with Michelle and Tripp and Carson? I really believe that we were on that path that will be the, you know, the rackets launched and we hang on tight. We have a lot of hard work, but we're gonna get there. We've got a great team behind us.
Michelle: Yeah, because I mean, when you think about it, right? When somebody asks you, hey, what's the number one important thing in your career outside of the paycheck? We all like money, but what's the more important thing? People say, oh, you know, security, right? I want job security. And people wanna feel secure in their homes and people wanna feel secure in their vehicles and people wanna feel secure while they travel. And people want to feel secure with their business decisions and their business assets and their employees. And that's becoming more and more relevant. And so being Link Labs and saying, we've got you on every single one of those fronts and being able to take a partner and say, now we've got you, we've got your back and we're gonna take you there with us. It's second to none, right? In the industry. And like Tripp has said, this company, even just interviewing with the company, I knew like, and Tripp it's probably the same way for you, like the first interview with Michael, and it was like, that's home. That's where I'm gonna be. I just knew, you know, like that's the choice I'm making, this is where I'm going. And then just even being in the first meeting there in Annapolis and meeting everybody, you just know that we're doing it right. And I think that our values align with our partners values, that's one of the other strong key points for us. And that's going to take us to the future with our partner channel program. Because I can't think of anybody else who says, yeah, we're open for partners, you know, we'll accept partners, but granularly we say, do your values align with ours? And do ours align with yours? because if we can't get that right, it's probably not a good fit. And I think that's really staying true to that is really what's gonna elevate us through our channel partners.
Carson: Yeah, very well said. Well, don't tell anybody, but you guys were definitely my favorite people that I've had on the podcast so far.
Tripp: I'll tell everybody. We're not in the business of keeping kudos to ourselves, and that's what we like to give.
Michelle: Yeah. You'll see us tomorrow, we'll have signs behind us that say Carson's favorite.
Carson: Definitely don't tell Carlos, you know, he's gonna be the one that gets the most mad about it.
Tripp: That's okay, we love Carlos, he'll be alright.
Carson: Yeah, well thank you guys so much for joining me. It's been a pleasure having both of you. Could you guys both tell our listeners the best place they could go to reach out to you guys if they have any questions about partnerships?
Tripp: Yeah, absolutely. I would give up my cell here, but I would probably get in trouble. No, you can obviously hit me up on LinkedIn or at email@example.com.
Michelle: Yeah. And likewise, you can obviously find me on LinkedIn as well for Michelle Medlock, and then I'm firstname.lastname@example.org. But then also you can visit link-labs.com on our website, which by the way is phenomenal. So anybody listening, if you haven't visited our website, please check out our website. And then there is a contact form there that you can fill out and that will get right into our internal team and come right to Tripp and myself and we'll be glad to reach out that way as well.
Carson: See, there she goes hyping up the marketing team again, right?
Tripp: I love it, I love it. I make them my friends because they help me. One last plug, partners new or going to be partners, we would love to do a podcast with you as well. Once you're a part of the Link Labs family.
Carson: Absolutely. We welcome all. We want to blow this podcast up. So if you guys have anybody or if anybody listening wants to join the podcast, we'd love to have you. So thank you guys so much for joining.
Tripp & Michelle: Yeah, absolutely.
Carson: Thank you guys so much for listening to our episode this week. Link labs is a leading innovator in all things, internet of things. Link Labs offers an asset tracking solution that uses technology to improve company's efficiencies. If you wanna learn more about Link Labs and asset tracking and all the many benefits that we can provide to your company, visit our website at link-labs.com and be sure to follow us on all of our social media platforms at Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and of course, subscribe to this podcast for more episodes to come in the future. We look forward to seeing you next time, and as always, thank you so much for listening in.