Episode #1 – Journey from Idea to Success with Mike Morena of AdhereTech

Published on by John Teel

In this first episode of the Predictable Designs Podcast I speak with Michael Morena, co-founder of AdhereTech which is a startup that manufacturers and sells a medication adherence hardware product to large pharmaceutical companies. The AdhereTech smart pill bottle device is currently used by tens of thousands of patients.

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Mike Morena, Co-Founder of Adhere Tech
Mike Morena, Co-Founder of Adhere Tech

In my interview with Mike he shares many of the lessons he learned and challenges he faced developing the product, pitching it to large pharmaceutical companies, and finding a world-class manufacturer. Fortunately, Mike had two other co-founders which helped to split up the various tasks, so we discuss the benefits of having a founder team with complimentary skills.

The business model that AdhereTech uses is really quite beautiful. They don’t just sell a one-time hardware product, instead they collect a recurring revenue for the back-end services that are included with their product. Mike shares how this recurring revenue was really helpful in their fundraising efforts.

Links mentioned in the show:
AdhereTech.com

Transcript

John Teel: Welcome to the Predictable Designs Podcast where we discuss all things related to developing, manufacturing, marketing and selling successful new electronic hardware products. Hi, I’m your host, John Teel. This is episode number one. Today I’m speaking with the successful hardware entrepreneur, Mike Morena, who co-founded a company named AdhereTech that sells a medicine adherence hardware device to major pharmaceutical companies. Hey Mike, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you here. My first question for you is can you tell us a bit about yourself and your product?

Mike Morena: Sure. I guess I’ll give you just a little background on me. I started my career working for GE as a mechanical engineer in their aviation business. My first love was aerospace engineering. I worked there for several years and then about seven and a half years ago I started a company called AdhereTech with two of my co founders. I’m no longer a full time employee at the company, but I am still a board member and a technical advisor to the business.

Just to give you a little bit of background. Basically AdhereTech is a startup in New York city, it is a medication adherence company. What we do is we ultimately provide adherence solutions to pharmaceutical companies for their drugs and the patients that take them and medication adherence is basically defined as a patient’s ability to take their medication as prescribed.

If you have 30 doses for a month and one dose a day, if you were to take all 30 that would be a 100% adherence and there’s additional information that goes into calculating any adherence specifically your adherence over time, which is known as persistent. Like staying on a therapy that is a chronic therapy that you would take for potentially years. If you stay on the therapy for years, you persist on the therapy. That’s also something that we’re looking to increase.

Our company creates values for our customers by increasing adherence and persistence and to drugs and we do that through a novel technology that we put inside of pill bottles. We make smart pill bottles and basically what the pill bottle does is that it tracks when people do or don’t take a dose of medications, specifically pills. It looks and works just like a normal pill bottle except it tracks when you do and don’t take medication through a variety of sensors inside the bottle itself.

It has cellular connectivity. Basically connected on AT&T and any AT&T roaming partner. The first generation of the product was a 3G/2G product and now today it is an LTE Cat M1 and the IoT products. The idea is sensors inside the bottle would detect when you did and didn’t take your medication and send that information into our backend platform such that we could determine what to do with that information based on the patient’s profile, their preferences, the drug that they were taking, a whole bunch of things. We can basically customize an intervention based on the real time data that the bottle was giving us. We could send you a text message reminder, if you didn’t take it. We could ask you why you didn’t take it. We could connect that to a caregiver.

We can connect that to a doctor, a pharmacist, et cetera, a whole different variety of basically interventions to basically get you back on track and inspire behavior change. What AdhereTech did was we basically effectively increase patient adherence from like 80% to close to 100% specifically for branded specialty drugs. Like oncology medications, HIV, multiple sclerosis, things like this where the medication was really important.

The value of the drug was really high and we could incentivize the pharmaceutical company to basically pay for the service because at the end of the day we would generate one to two additional refills per patient per year for these very high value drugs. The way that our business model was implemented we would go to pharma brands and we would offer them almost like a turnkey service, if you will, to patients on their drugs.

We would say, “Hey, we have a network of pharmacies that we work with and these are mostly specialty pharmacies, so they’re nine out of 10 of them are mail order facilities. It’s not a brick and mortar facility that you’re used to walking into, but it’s like a mail order. You might get your drugs in the mail from companies like Express Scripts, things like this. That’s how specialty drugs are delivered. You can’t typically fill them in a local pharmacy, believe it or not.”

Those pharmacies are actually very engaged with the drugs that they distribute. They know a lot about the patients they’re are more in contact with. So we have a network of pharmacies that we have agreements with that basically offer the product, fill your prescription in our pill bottles and set up you as a patient on our platform when you go to get it refill. The idea is that you get prescribed one of the drugs that’s on our platform. You go to get your refill, most likely be a conversation on a phone with a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician who would then go through the regular process of filling your prescription for you.

Then they would offer you during that conversation, “Hey, we have this program, you’re eligible because you take one of the drugs that AdhereTech works with, you can get your next prescription filled in a smart pill bottle. It’s 100% free for you. You don’t have to pay for it, you don’t need WiFi, you don’t need a smartphone and you just have to opt in on the phone. Then we’ll ask you a few questions such as, what time you want to take your medication, what interventions like reminders and things that you would like.

They sent that all off for you on the phone. They fill the bottle and then typically the following day they get it when the patient would activate the bottle by pulling a tab on it and then from that point forward it would be active on the AT&T network and sending us data. The idea is we incentivize a pharma business or drug manufacturers to pay for this service because it increased the adherence and therefore refill rates for their drugs. It was ultimately the ROI was very high for them and it really made a lot of sense with specialty drugs.

That’s what AdhereTech is, we’re all over the country. We work with almost 10 drugs on the platform, tens of thousands of patients use it every day. It’s a really great product and in particularly, I like it because it’s an IoT product that, really drives a lot of value into people’s lives and also is a very profitable business.

John: That’s a really fascinating business model. It’s different than what I was expecting.

Mike: I would say that was our primary business model. The other business models that we use and employ today are also just like in research and clinical research. Not necessarily driving adherence up or anything like that, but more just as like a measurement tool for a clinical trial or a research trial where– I won’t go into the details of clinical trials, but adherence typically is a very pretty valuable piece of information when evaluating the efficacy and toxicity of drugs that are being tested.

John: Otherwise it throws up all the data obviously.

Mike: The technology today honestly is most often like handwritten diaries, which is crazy. You still see that quite a bit and so we’re a technology that’s makes it easy to capture the data.

John: None of what you do is consumer facing in regards to you don’t mark data or reach out to consumers. It’s all either trial companies or the pharmaceutical companies.

Mike: Strict data exactly. Ultimately the user is a patient. We do have to have a patient facing mentality when it comes to the business because we have to make the product easy to use and can fit into the lives of patients. Ultimately the paying customers are other businesses.

John: As far as a customer support or technical support, that’s the area where you actually have to interact with the consumer.

Mike: We provide, we pick up the phone when patients either have questions, mostly about the pill bottles is typically where we fit in, but we act as a connection point to them, to their pharmacy then to their doctor, then to the other interventions to get them the information they need. It’s like a communication platform as well as like an adherence platform. It basically connects you to the drug therapy that you’re normally used to taking in a more enhanced away. Pharmacists could quickly pull up a dashboard and see that you missed the last five doses.

There’s probably a really good reason for that. If they’re oral chemotherapy drugs, it’s most likely not forgetfulness, that’s what most people assume we solve and certainly is something that we do solve. A lot of the drugs we work with, there’s just a lot of complications with the therapies that they’re dealing with. There might be a dose changes, schedule changes, there might be side effects. There might be a number of reasons that a patient will go on and off with drug therapy and we can get the tech that in real time and get them help much faster than they would without AdhereTech.

Ultimately over time it improves the experience that the patient gets with that drug, thereby staying on the drug. Thereby refilling on time the overall, thereby sticking with the pharmacy that they’re with ultimately just improves their whole experience.

John: It’s a win, win, win I guess for the pharmaceutical company, the pharmacy and then obviously the patient and then of course your company so I guess there’s four wins.

Mike: The value chain in healthcare is like a little different. Most businesses, you have to figure out how to incentivize. We really want the path of developing a single pill bottle because that makes very clear sense to the pharma company who’s benefiting, in terms of increasing adherence to that drug as opposed to a poly-pharmacy solution where it would be like a many drugs in one. Yes. It’s a unique business model and a unique product.

John: You obviously make the bottles, manufacture the bottles yourself. I’m assuming that’s correct, right? That’s the main part of your business is to make the bottles themselves?

Mike: Well we don’t manufacture it, we don’t have the manufacturing facility. We outsource it to a contract manufacturer.

John: That’s what I meant.

Mike: Yes, we are the OEM, yes. AdhereTech is the manufacturer of the pill bottle. We design, write the software, and develop everything that touches the physical product, so software and hardware is what AdhereTech does.

John: Got you. I don’t know how much you can get into what your profit or where you make the money, but is it actually on the cost of goods sold and then you mark that up. Is it all in the product or is there an ongoing fee that the pharmacy has to pay or any type?

Mike: Sure. I can’t specifically tell you any numbers.

John: Yes, of course, yes.

Mike: The value lies in pruning out increases in adherence. There is a subscription component. Basically, we have a model where every month a patient is active, that’s a subscription, a monthly subscription. That’s where the value is made. We’re not like a consumer electronic where it’s three times cost of goods sold or anything like that. It’s really a subscription. We’re hoping that patients use it for multiple years and that’s where we generate our value for our company.

John: Got you. That’s really awesome. I assume you would say that a recurring business model has been really key to the growth that you’ve had?

Mike: Yes, absolutely. Yes.

John: Interesting. I guess this would be considered a medical product. Did you have to go through FDA approval and all that? Those different certifications?

Mike: We did not have to go through FDA approval. We are a medical device. I won’t go too much into medical devices, but in the world of medical devices, in the US, it’s covered by the FDA and the FDA has three classifications, one, two and three in escalating levels of basically risk. We’re considered the lowest risk, so it’s class 1. Most class 1 devices are exempt from what’s called pre-market approval. The process, you may have heard of it before for class 1 and class 2 devices, is called a 510(k), which is a pre-market approval. Basically, you have to go through and prove your equivalence to either preexisting devices, things like this. We were exempt from that process because most class 1 devices are exempt, so they just basically say the risk is low enough that you have to do just the bare minimum, which is basically, register your product with the FDA, implement a few processes and procedures, and then that is basically what the FDA requires of you.

John: I can’t imagine a situation where your product could cause someone injury or harm. I’m assuming that’s part of it.

Mike: Right. Ultimately, our device is really just a reminder device because it’s not like I like to compare it to a insulin pump, which you can theoretically call it an adherence product right? Because it actually physically doses the medication to your body. We don’t do that, right. You could take the pill out and not use it, not consume it. You could throw it away. Ultimately, what the device is doing is just generating reminders. That is the category in which we fall under, so it’s a class 1, 510(k) exempt product. There’s no approval but we are a class 1 device. FDA approval is a weird term that people often use that really doesn’t apply to most of the class of medical devices.

John: Understood. I’m curious because your main customer are big pharmaceutical companies. I’m curious, how did that process go when you were first starting out as far as were they highly resistant? Was it difficult to get through to decision makers? Also, how far along were you with the product? Did you have a prototype you could show them or was it just a drawing and an idea?

Mike: There’s multiple parts to that answer. First, early, early days, our CEO, Josh, he’s a really impressive person, and he was able to basically sell our product to a customer before we even had one. Yes. It was a good problem to have. We basically ran a research study with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. We got written into a research project and that got approved and they basically called us up and said, “Okay, we need the pill bottles.” At that point, we were like, “Okay, let’s go build the pill bottles.” Which was a crazy time.

We were able to basically get off the ground through that and that really was a generation one design. That was something that we actually, spent the time to design ourselves. We worked with a small design firm, we really put them together. We built under a thousand of them and we basically went and got some data, which is really what we needed to then go show more sophisticated investors that the product works and that it’s usable and that patients will adopt it.

Then we raised money on up first generation product and some early actual results showing that patients with our product have higher adherence, which is ultimately what we’re going out and trying to show. With that, that really enabled us to grow the business, redesign it for mass manufacturing, much more manufacturable product. That’s what we’re ultimately, we’ve been shipping in the thousands for many years. When it came to penetrating pharma companies, we basically would run pilots with them.

They basically wanted to see that it worked for the patient and the therapy that we were trying to target at their business so ultimately there’s lots of interest, because we were the only people that really successfully get this technology in the form of a pill bottle, which is really very easy for a patient to use. As long as you can get in the hands of patients, it’s understood that a device that could measure adherence can be used ultimately increased adherence. They were always interested and we ran pilots with them. We would do a hundred patients, a thousand patients a year, six months, all different pilots.

Then ultimately we would get the data and then they would compare it to a cohort of patients who weren’t part of the pilot and they would evaluate the return on their investment and they’d say, the value is here. These patients are more adherent compared to the average patient. We’d like to expand. That’s how the business would grow as we would land these pilot deals. Where we would run for six months, a year, hundreds of patients, thousands of patients, depending on what they wanted and then that’s how we grew the company. Those were actually profitable endeavors.

They were small, but they were profitable and I really like fund the company at some points just based on those pilot projects, which is ultimately how you have to get into that type of industry. I’ve been in the health tech environment for almost seven years and I haven’t seen anybody just boom land enterprise sales deal. It’s really small pilots. We want to see if your project work, where your product works, we want to evaluate it in our own terms. Then that just takes a long time, unfortunately in the world of healthcare. Once you’re there, you’re there. That’s the way that works.

John: I think yes it did and the same situation of, maybe not to the same extent, but exist with retailers. If you go pitch your product to Walmart, they’re going to start off with one store of wind display, a very small test order and if that does well as a pilot run and they’ll maybe add two stores and then 10 stores and then it grows from there. I think that’s a general policy in companies, they know you have to minimize risk and the way to do that is you have to always be testing.

When you mentioned that I believe Josh was the founder when he had gotten that first trial at the military base, did you even have a proof of concept prototype or anything like that? Had you really given much thought to the design of the product as far as technology.

Mike: We didn’t have a lot, honestly. We really didn’t have a lot. Honestly it’s been such a long time, I can’t even remember. We had like a very, very rough 3D printed like single unit, hacking together how this thing might look. It was certainly wasn’t ready to deliver any. We really need to now go back and make sure this product can be made.

John: It’s a beautiful strategy. I think it’s always best to sell it before you make it. That has its own challenges, but just the fact that if they even expressed interest, that can be a huge boost. It sounds like you basically got a first sale or first trial run, then you went off and you actually decided, I’m going to make a prototype. Then you made those prototypes and put them in the field and you basically started collecting data and then you could use the prototype and the data to convince the pharmaceutical companies.

Mike: More so our plan at that time was really just to raise money based on that information was because ultimately we knew that the product that we were able to put together for this first customer was not the one that the one we wanted to the manufacturer in high volumes. There’s different ways to do it, right? There’s designing a medical device, an electronic product, it takes a lot of money. It takes a lot of engineering resources. You can get to a certain point, but we knew that this first generation, it’s good, it has most of the features that we think it needs. We got tons of feedback on what was good about it, what wasn’t good about it.

We ultimately said, okay, this isn’t going to be the product that we live with forever, but it’ll get us enough information to prove that one it’s a good idea and two, it works and that three that were the people that can execute. Those three things really helped us go to investors and say, “Hey, we need to build a small engineering team. We need to redesign this. We want to make it much more manufacturable. We want to really go around and find a great contract manufacturing partner,” and all those things that really enable us to design the second generation, which is ultimately a product that built the company.

John: That’s great, so the first prototype was basically your version one, that was totally self-funded for the most part?

Mike: We had some small angel investors but it was pretty much before any of this what I would call legitimate fundraising.

John: Okay, and then once you got to that prototype, then you were able to use that, collect data and then use that to get professional, more larger investors and funds?

Mike: Yes, correct.

John: That’s great. That’s what I typically try to recommend to people is that I don’t think most people have the funding or even if they did, I don’t recommend that you risk that type of money to take it all the way to the final market version. I think for most people that strategy that you followed is what makes the most sense is just get a crude, simple, lowest cost prototype that you and then get the traction with that, and then use that traction, to get the money to go back and make the final version.

Mike: I think one of the things that I’ve learned, and ultimately, you have to decide what’s right for you and what you’re trying to do. But I always tell people when you’re building a hardware company, you’re not just building a product, you’re building a machine that can build products. You don’t need to think about that initially but you have to eventually understand that there’s a ton of effort that goes into getting your first-generation product out there. That’s not the last product that you’re ever going to make. It’s not the last product you’re ever going to design.

If you’re a successful business and customers like your product they’re not going to buy it for 20 years, they’re going to buy the next thing that you make, and then the better version and these things that the market forces that change, force you to make changes. You have to think about it as, “Okay, let me get to this point where I can build a product and sell it but I also have to build an engine, a team that is ready to make it even better once we prove that that works.” That’s the next phase of building a hardware company.

That’s just hard to do but you have to put it in the back of your head that, “Okay, so this goes really well, I need to support the product, I need to address changes in the product. All of a sudden you need people to do shipping and supply chain and all those things.” There’s a lot of pieces of a hardware company. What I always tell people is don’t start hardware companies start solution companies that use hardware because no one wants to help you build a hardware company, they want to help you build a solution. If you speak in those terms, you think beyond just building the products.

John: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, ultimately you can’t just build one product and that be the end of it. You have to build a company. A company can’t get by on just one single product, right?

Mike: This applies to companies that are building products that generate what I would call a lot of value. More so, I’m not talking about a widget or a flashlight. I have to have a side business where I sell bottle openers on Amazon. There’s no engineering infrastructure behind that company, right? That was something that I designed. I found a manufacturer and I sell them, I don’t make a ton of money, but it’s not a high-value product, right?

John: I can only imagine how simple that must have seemed to you after doing that.

Mike: It actually wasn’t that easy, because it’s a cosmetic part. Not that the medical device wasn’t cosmetic, there’s definitely cosmetic parts of it but it’s trying to make a cosmetic product for very low cost is a hard thing to do. I want this to be cheap, but I want to look nice, right? I want a premium finish. I want it to look like it has a lot of value, but I don’t want to pay $10 for a bottle opener, I want to pay a $1.

John: Yes. Absolutely,

Mike: That is a unique set of challenges.

John: I think that I didn’t mean to imply it was simple, but-

Mike: No. Not at all.

John: -the one thing I know is that word doesn’t even exist with.

Mike: There’s no.

John: -in business of any type. Even a service business is typically considered simpler or easier than a hardware business, but it’s still not simple by any means, but compared to a medical device company that obviously has a whole other layer of challenges as well.

Mike: Yes. Totally.

John: You’ve mentioned Josh is one of your founders. I’m curious about your founding team. There were three of you. You’re obviously a mechanical engineer, it sounds like Josh is maybe the marketing or the hustler, I’m not sure, can you maybe tell me a bit about the other founders?

Mike: Sure. We had three founders myself, I was the COO. Josh was our CEO, and John was our CTO. Ultimately, we wore a lot of hats. Everybody did many, many things, but ultimately, Josh was in charge. The early days was really sales, marketing, investor relations, raising money, doing all things related to starting up a business. We had John, who was our CTO, he did everything when it came to software. Whether that was firmware inside the pill bottle, whether it was a website that was a back end system, a cloud that could talk to our pill bottles, all these things, he did that and then I did the pill bottle.

I did mechanical design, worked with outside design firms, outside consultants, electrical engineers, ID people, mechanical people, manufacturing people, regulatory testing, all that stuff is what I did. We had it split. Josh is out there selling, building a book of business for us, working with investors, pitching our business thousands of times to anyone who wanted to listen, maybe 10s of thousands of times ultimately. John was writing software and helping us build an engineering team. That’s what the three of us did.

John: That that seems to match what I will tell people is an ideal founding team. Someone that’s the hardware guy, a software guy, and then a hustler/marketers/sales. It sounds like you had that dynamic with the three of you. I guess the only thing that would maybe, but then you get four co founders it’s a little crowded, is if you had an electrical engineer co founder probably would have been a nice addition at least during the early days of doing the hardware development, but– Having you as an engineer overseeing that and the other engineering that can be a very viable choice as well.

As I say, you don’t have to know how to do everything that you outsource, but you need to least know enough to be able to manage it and judge the quality of that, so, obviously, you have those skills. Okay, so most of all the development was outsourced, did you are the hardware development, or I guess I should say the electronics hardware, not the physical hardware.

Mike: Tt was a mix. I looked at the design. We work with two design firms and some consultants, a variety of people, but certainly, we did not do all of the product development in-house. I would say, we did a lot more software in-house than we did outsource. We did a lot more hardware outsource that we did in-house, but ultimately, I treated the design firms almost as an extension of our company. There’s things that I would do, there’s things that they would do, there’s consultants that would do certain things. It was like an extension of our company that we worked with basically two of them and one of them we still have a very strong relationship with today that continues to be part of our team.

We still pay them a consulting fee, but we treat them like an extension of our company. They did a lot of electrical design, mechanical design, and industrial design for us.

John: Now, by this point, you already had more serious outside funding, is that correct?

Mike: Yes. Correct.

John: Okay. You went with hiring– it sounds like you worked with more of a firm and not individual freelancers then.

Mike: Correct. There’s times where we did certain things with freelancers, not really freelancers, but what I would call smaller consulting company more specialized, typically, like antenna design, something that you won’t find a lot of like full-service design companies actually have that expertise in-house. They might be very knowledgeable about RF and wireless modules, things like this, but when it comes to, we need to design an antenna, actual design, that’s where I worked with a specialist.

John: That’s a common one. That’s definitely within electrical engineering, RF design. It’s very specialized.

Mike: Yes, if you’re lucky, you never have to do it.

John: Yes, I have to leave before I say go with modules.

Mike: Cellular world is the only world that I know of where you literally have to put up numbers. You have to actually show the performance so you can build a WiFi product and have the world’s worst WiFi performance and literally no one cares. There’s no one’s going to say you can’t build that product because there’s no rules that say you have to have this much performance. They care about certain levels, but they don’t care that you have a good product except in the cellular world where there’s literally performance metrics that you have to pass in order to be allowed on the carrier networks because ultimately your device reflects not only your device but also the network that you’re operating on.

You can imagine if you built a cell phone and it had a terrible reception, people would either interpret that as a bad cell phone or as a terrible network and they don’t want that. You have to meet their standards. If you take an off the shelf antenna and whack it into your product and surely it’ll work, but if it doesn’t meet the performance metrics, they want to prove it to be on the network and then you can’t deliver devices. It’s a different piece.

I always tell people when you’re working in the cellular world, when you select that module, you also need to think about the antenna upfront and really go put it in a chamber and measure the radiated power and the sensitivity and make sure you’re in a ballpark, that your early design decisions don’t put you in a corner where you can’t change it and improve it later because you’ll be stuck.

John: Got you. Yes, of course. You did for the cellular, you had a module for the function itself and then obviously you just had a customer in 10, I imagined with a smart model, space was a significant factor for design on this.

Mike: Yes, it was very tight. There’s two circuit boards, a battery and an antenna in the second generation, the 2G, 3G device. We actually used an off the shelf antenna. We went through a lot of work trying to figure out where to put it in the product and then once we figured out a place that it went that naturally allowed it to be assembled. We went with that off the cell antenna come two years later, AT&T says, “Hey, we’re shutting down the 3G network you need to switch to LTE and then the LTE bands go down in frequency, which means the antennas go up in size.”

All of a sudden we couldn’t fit in off the shelf in the place that we had the other end, the current antenna and so we had to design a custom one to basically fit in the space that we had so that we didn’t have to change the form factor of the device too much. The literally the LTE antenna compared to the 3G/2G antenna is literally like two and a half times size is huge.

It’s mostly because it has to be a very wide band antenna because I don’t know how familiar you are with LTE, but for some reason all the networks, like if you’re a 2G and 3G device, there’s basically like four or five frequencies you need to operate at and if you’re an LTE device, there’s like 30. They chopped it up so much and to be able to be on different bands and all these things all over the world to have one antenna that can do it all, it’s very hard.

John: Yes, absolutely. I haven’t found that going from a 2G/3G solution up to LTE, there’s a pretty significant cost jump. Obviously, you’re not doing the cogs marking that up. You have a recurring, you’re providing a solution, so you’re not maybe quite as dependent on the price of the product that was that at all an obstacle for you or?

Mike: Actually, believe it or not, we actually saved a little bit of money moving to LTE because we’ve moved to LTE-M/MBIT, which those modules are basically trying to come in at a low price point. They’re very defeatured and they compare it to like an LTE cat for module, which has a very high speed, has voice over LTE, it probably has a little Linux operating system inside of it, believe it or not. All these things, it’s like really, very featureful and then LTE-M and they go to half-duplex, ultra low power, long-range, but very, very, very slow speed and that really enables them to bring the price point down.

It wasn’t a lot, it wasn’t a big difference, but actually came down slightly going to LTE-M which is that’s exactly what they’re targeting, but ultimately, had we gone any other LTE category it would have gone up significantly.

John: Yes, because I think I typically will see maybe a 2G, 3G solution be a sub $10 or maybe $5 to $7, $8, $9 somewhere in there and then an LTE-M I don’t know, maybe around $10. Obviously, the volumes matter, but then I feel like for 4 LTE solution, and it jumps up to like $26 or something. There’s a like a really big jump from 3G or LTE-M up to 4 LTE.

Mike: Yes, totally. We didn’t need 4 LTE.

Mike: We were sending terabytes of data. It’s really small. Ultimately, you don’t want to put like a V8 engine on a bicycle, it’s a waste, it’s such a waste. One of the hardest things to do is actually select. We tried to build one device that can work pretty much anywhere so getting a module that has coverage in the frequency bands on the carriers all over was pretty challenging, but they have those now, so that may change as many.

John: Absolutely. Well, Mike, I can’t thank you. This has been so great. I found it very useful and enlightening and I know the other people are as well so I really appreciate you for sharing all this knowledge and experience that you have. There’s a lot of value here.

Mike: Happy to do it.

John: Okay. Talk to you soon Mike. See you.

John: Okay, I hope you found this podcast to be helpful. This was actually a shortened version of my interview with Mike Morena. The full interview is over an hour and it’s available exclusively to members inside the Hardware Academy. Okay, that’s it for today. Be sure to tune in next week for another episode of The Predictable Designs Podcast.

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