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“Trust your intuition”, With Fotis Georgiadis & Ben Lamm

I don’t think success is ours alone. I think if we get to the top and haven’t spread goodness along the way, we are doing it wrong. Right now I’m really focused on two things: climate change and employee health. We launched the Eos Bioreactor as a tool to help sequester carbon and I’ve been […]

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I don’t think success is ours alone. I think if we get to the top and haven’t spread goodness along the way, we are doing it wrong. Right now I’m really focused on two things: climate change and employee health. We launched the Eos Bioreactor as a tool to help sequester carbon and I’ve been really bullish about our efforts to bring it to market along with some additional products we haven’t announced. I hope it will be an important part of helping us address climate change. Additionally, right now our employees matter more than anything. I’m really focused on helping them to feel safe, secure and comfortable in this moment of global crisis.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ben Lamm, a serial technology entrepreneur that builds intelligent and transformative businesses. He is currently the founder and CEO of Hypergiant, a next-gen AI and defense company. Previous to founding Hypergiant, Lamm was the CEO and founder of Conversable, the leading conversational intelligence platform that helps brands reach their customers through automated experiences on all major messaging and voice platforms. Conversable was acquired by LivePerson (NASDAQ: LPSN) in 2018.

Lamm was also the founder and CEO of Chaotic Moon, a global mobile creative technology powerhouse acquired by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). During his time at Chaotic Moon and as a Managing Director at Accenture, Lamm spearheaded the creation of some of the Fortune 500’s most groundbreaking digital products and experiences in the emerging tech world of IoT, VR, Connected Car, Mobile, Tablet, and Wearables.

After leaving Accenture, Lamm focused his attention on other ventures, including the consumer gaming company he co-founded, Team Chaos. Team Chaos was focused on making fun, original games that people can easily play across a variety of platforms. In 2016, Team Chaos was acquired by Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA).

In addition to leading and growing his own companies, Lamm is very active in angel investing, incubators and startup communities, with investments in the software and emerging tech space. He actively mentors fellow entrepreneurs on how to build disruptive businesses through accelerators and corporate programs. In addition to supporting startups, Lamm also serves on Adweek’s advisory board, the Planetary Society’s advisory council and the advisory board of the Arch Mission.

Lamm is often quoted in the press on innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, and has appeared as a thought leader in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Adweek, Entrepreneur, Inc, Wired, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and Newsweek. He frequently writes for AdWeek, Forbes, Ozy, Quartz and more.

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

I remember reading all of these dystopian futurists and hearing about Elon Musk wanting to leave the Earth for Mars and I just thought… is this it? Have we all given up on humanity and the planet? And, I thought that I didn’t want that to be the case. I wanted to do something about it. So I built Hypergiant to work on space, defense and critical infrastructure which I believe are the fundamental elements of civilization that act as the core building blocks of humanity. Our goal at the company is to deliver on the future we were promised — which is the one from my childhood where we had flying cars and world peace and even vacations in space. I looked around and couldn’t find anyone who was really focused on the intersection of space, defense and critical infrastructure through the lens of emerging tech and AI. I believe it is an opportunity to build a necessary company for this critical juncture of our planet and species.

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

Absolutely not: I was sworn to secrecy. I will say though I have had a really interesting and weird career ranging from getting yelled at by Ari Emanuel in board meetings to calls with Steve Jobs on subscription news products, debating branding with Gene Simmons, whiteboarding product design ideas with Rupert Murdoch, debating the future of space with Bill Nye on stage, and more. I believe all these weird experiences helped inform my perspective on the world of business.

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

Right now we are working on tools and platforms for situational awareness both in space and here on earth. This is the cutting edge of technology that fuses space and defense. It’s about tracking, understanding, and monitoring the proposed tens of thousands of satellites that are going to be in space in the future and how to think about things like the militarization of space. Then take this data and merging it with data from the ground while running machine learning in near-real-time to then provide the outputs of that data to tablets and even next-gen heads up displays for soldiers or first responders on the ground.

We are also working on some research projects around satellite support, back up, and distributed computing. Most people aren’t thinking about the vulnerability of our satellites and how to protect them but it’s a massive security concern.

How do you think this might change the world?

The better and faster we can collect, understand and distribute data, the more informed we are to make decisions — whether that be for shipping and logistics, disaster relief, or police and military. We also need to ensure there are the right levels of intelligent redundancies so that one bad move in space doesn’t set us back decades on Earth.

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

Humans make and control technology. Technology is not fully autonomous and sentient. It is responsive to human needs and interests. So, the best way to overcome fear is to become educated, to develop a point of view and then push for that point of view to be made into law. Tech isn’t scary; unregulated people who are looking at the future without putting human needs first are scary. It is all about having the right ethical frameworks in place and then standing behind your values in those frameworks.

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

We’ve been doing a ton of work around machine learning and the impact intelligent technologies will have on space and space-based data. Many people have been concerned around the vulnerabilities to various points in the infrastructure stack including space. Then in January, we saw a Russian satellite destroy a second satellite and people really started to ask a lot more questions. So, we got to work on figuring out what could be done to help improve this area of our critical space infrastructure and working on various solutions and products. The entire end-to-end system that I mentioned before has to be connected and protected.

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

At this point, we need to continue to work on its advancement and to develop solutions in partnership with other satellite focused businesses and organizations.

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

This is not currently an idea we are in the process of marketing widely. We are working with a couple of great strategic partners in the sector as well as the US government.

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?

I am so grateful to so many along the way. Two of the most influential people to me have been one of my long-term partners, Andrew Busey who has taught me so much about product development, patent and IP strategy, and fundraising. I also wouldn’t be where I am today without my long-term mentor and friend, John McKinley. John was the CTO of Newscorp, CTO AOL, CIO GE Capital among many others. He has taught me so much about strategic thinking and how to deal with really large teams and problems ranging from how to handle hostile negotiations to expectations management to employee retention.

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

I don’t think success is ours alone. I think if we get to the top and haven’t spread goodness along the way, we are doing it wrong. Right now I’m really focused on two things: climate change and employee health. We launched the Eos Bioreactor as a tool to help sequester carbon and I’ve been really bullish about our efforts to bring it to market along with some additional products we haven’t announced. I hope it will be an important part of helping us address climate change. Additionally, right now our employees matter more than anything. I’m really focused on helping them to feel safe, secure and comfortable in this moment of global crisis.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Be careful who you go into business with: matching with a business partner is like getting married. You don’t want to do it with just anyone.
  2. Trust your intuition: your intuition is literally the most important aspect of your brain. It is sending you a signal for a reason, trust it.
  3. Nothing is impossible: literally nothing is impossible. Most things are limited by time or money and eventually with enough effort you can solve for both.
  4. Do what you’re good at: I’m not an engineer but I’m a great creative. So, I brainstorm a lot of tech solutions and then step away when people go to work on it. It’s how I make things happen rapidly; I don’t need to build everything I think that’s why we have teams.
  5. Chase new things: Stay curious about the world; that is what will help you stay ahead of everyone else.

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.

I wish I could have people focused on climate change and the impact it has to all of our lives including conservation of our species and other species on this planet. We need to protect endangered species as the world gets hotter and hotter and we see more seasonality variances due to climate change. We have a ton of species dying and no way to recover them. That’s terrifying.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I recently heard the best advice is to not listen to advice. I kind of believe it. Believe the universe is here to help you and you might be surprised by what you see happen.

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