“Help people eat and live better.” With Fotis Georgiadis & Kevin Brown

Our mission is to build technology and services that help people eat and live better. If we can act as a Culinary GPS system along the entire food journey — plan, shop, prep, cook — people can achieve major benefits in health, time savings, delicious meals, and quality time with friends and family. As a […]

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Our mission is to build technology and services that help people eat and live better. If we can act as a Culinary GPS system along the entire food journey — plan, shop, prep, cook — people can achieve major benefits in health, time savings, delicious meals, and quality time with friends and family.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Brown. Kevin Brown is the CEO and co-founder of Innit. He is an accomplished entrepreneur and executive, with more than 20 years experience in the networking, storage, security, and cloud sectors. Prior to joining Innit, Kevin served in roles including CEO of Kidaro (acquired: MSFT), Vice President at Decru (acquired: NTAP), and VP/GM and founding team at Internet infrastructure pioneer Inktomi (NASDAQ: INKT, acquired: YHOO). Kevin is also a Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business where he sits on the Dean’s Advisory Council, and earned his Bachelor’s and MBA degrees at UC Berkeley, where he served as MBA class president.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was working in my first job after college, doing economics and finance research for litigation. We were pretty technical quantitative analysts, and shortly before leaving for grad school I got an early version of the NCSA Mozilla browser (precursor to Netscape). The team gathered around my computer, and as I clicked my first hyperlink, the future history of the next 10 years rushed past my eyes. It was obvious to me that democratizing computing and information would have a huge impact, and that set me on my path in technology to help build it.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Lots of stories, but I’ll tell an old one. I was on the founding team of Inktomi, in the early days of Web search. We had more demand than expected, and this was before there were good tools and techniques for scaling traffic, so we saw some unexpected issues. One bug that came up was particularly interesting — basically, when servers got overloaded, they would sometimes lose the results to a search, and replace them with the answers to a subsequent search. So, you might be searching for “Disney lunch box” but receive the search results for “chainsaw massacre.” Not good. Once we figured this out and started getting questions, I had to march into the engineering pit and tell them to shut down the entire search engine until it was fixed. Fortunately, we got it fixed quickly, and went on to go public and become the #1 search engine in the pre-Google era, but I’ll never forget that moment.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Every major industry is getting digitized and in each case, software-based platforms emerge to enable advanced functionality, increased efficiency, and new customer experiences. But at the same time, the global food and appliance industries have lagged behind.

Against this backdrop, we created Innit, the first software platform that connects the food industry to the smart kitchen to simplify consumers’ relationship with food, while delivering rich contextual food experiences for platform partners.

The Innit platform has launched several new breakthrough innovations in the past year alone. For example, Innit and Google worked together to launch an AI-driven visual search experience on Google Lens, with Mars Food’s UNCLE BEN’S® featured as the first “Lensable” product. Consumers simply point their phones at packages on the shelf, and the product is recognized, unlocking personalized nutrition, recommended recipes, and step-by-step cooking instructions.

We also announced Shoppable Recipes, where consumers can customize a meal and add the right groceries to their cart with a single click, making Innit the first platform to automate every step of the meal journey. Groceries are selected based on dietary restrictions or preferences, and delivered more than 30 top retailers nationwide.

How do you think this might change the world?

Our mission is to build technology and services that help people eat and live better. If we can act as a Culinary GPS system along the entire food journey — plan, shop, prep, cook — people can achieve major benefits in health, time savings, delicious meals, and quality time with friends and family.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Two major themes in Black Mirror are technology turning on humans, and technology leading to people turning on each other. Our technology presents a pretty low risk on both of these counts. However, people ask: “Will technology take the joy out of cooking?” This is a better question, and one we care deeply about. I’m cooking with Innit at home about four nights a week, and I’ve found the combination of video assistance and automated cook programs to be very helpful, while leaving a lot of room for creativity. Don’t worry, though, we’ll stay vigilant on avoiding any dystopian dinner scenarios.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

My co-founder Eugenio had been running $10 billion+ food businesses, and grew frustrated with the slow rate of innovation and progress. He recognized the huge opportunity in “digitizing” food to unlock information that helps consumers, and we went deep on consumer research and R&D to develop the underlying technologies to make it happen.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We’re very proud to have launched all the major components of the Innit Platform, in U.S. and Europe, and we are now signing partnerships with top food, retail, appliance, and technology partners to bring our services to a broad audience worldwide.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

We’ve just begun, but we’re very proud to have partners like Google, Electrolux, LG, GE Appliances, Tyson, and Mars publicizing our joint solution, both in the press and on their products themselves.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many mentors, friends and family that have helped along the way. My wife Jenny, and my best friend Carl Wright, have been a constant source of inspiration and counsel. Carl and I worked together in four companies — he was formerly Chief Information Security Officer of the U.S. Marine Corps, and taught me a lot about leadership and grit.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We’re just getting started! For starters, we made most of our technology free to consumers so everyone can have access to personalized nutrition and cooking assistance to live healthier lives.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Change has happened relatively slowly over the previous 10,000 years, but we are entering an era of rapidly accelerating change. It’s already creating disruption at every level of society — wealth distribution, jobs redefined by technology, political divisions, large-scale propaganda, cyber insecurity, and more. Most humans struggle with rapid change, and I think we need a movement to help our populations adapt to this new hyper-speed reality. This means job training, lifelong education strategies, and economic public policy to get our society through what will be an increasingly turbulent period.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Every industry is getting redefined by software, and each vertical market tends to reorganize around a small number of platforms. Music (Spotify, iTunes), video (Netflix, Amazon), and transportation (Uber, Lyft) are easy examples. Innit is the first platform that is capable of digitizing the entire food journey for consumers, and Innit has built the deep technology and partner ecosystem to pull it off. The question is, who wants to help redefine an $8 trillion market, and enable massive health, sustainability, and economic gains?

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On Twitter, readers can follow Innit’s account at @innit or can follow me on my personal account at @kbpersonal. Innit’s Instagram is also constantly sharing recipe inspiration and nutritional information at @eatinnit, should readers want to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest offerings.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

My pleasure, thank you for the great questions!

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