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Client Success Stories – BlueFin Technology Partners-Holios

Interview with Jay Cahill, President and Founder

Tell Us About Your Journey

My journey really started when I was nine years old. In between baseball practices and baseball games, my parents shipped me off to computer camp at Digital Equipment Corporation, where I got my first taste of programming. Commodore 64, box of floppy drives later, and I’m pursuing a degree in computer science, and that really led me into my technology career. I started that at GTE Telecommunications systems.

In the mid ’90s, right around the time the internet had just been formed, we started streaming video. When Reed Hastings was sticking CDs into envelopes for Netflix, we were actually streaming video online. That really got me a taste into entrepreneurialism, granted within a large corporation, but it was something that intrigued me. As the .com era came, I started to follow that and jump into the consultancy business along the shores of the river Charles here in Boston. Through exposure of our different client base in those consultancies, I saw a new vantage point into entrepreneurism.

At the outset of that, that’s where I landed my first job inside the belly of a startup beast. In the early 2000s, I joined a group of individuals down in Providence, Rhode Island, where we started to build an enterprise content management system that we ultimately exited to Oracle.

After staying at Oracle for a while and experiencing a large company I got what I’d call my “Tech MBA” inside that large company, practical, albeit. I moved on and reconnected with those same groups to start a mobile social network company. That company was pre-App Store, pre-iOS, pre-Android. We were actually developing social media applications for flip phones. That business took us to mainland China, where we ended up partnering with one of the largest social media companies in China, and then ultimately exiting that in 2013, where I started Bluefin Technology Partners.

What Is the History of BlueFin-Holios?

Bluefin was really started as a means for me to figure out what I was going to do next. I formulated the company and started working with clients to see what was going on and take a temperature, both in the technology space and being back domestically in the US looking for new opportunities. As a result of what was going on in the connected product space and IoT, and the ability now to instrument and outfit devices with connectivity, presented a lot of unique opportunities for consumer products, industrial products, commercial products. We started helping our clients build unique things, everything from coffee makers, to dog collars, to water treatment facility monitoring systems.

As a result of doing that, we saw a common theme kind of appear across all those different products that we were helping launch for our customers. That was, these products create a lot of information and a lot of data, but the data that they produce isn’t really being leveraged. It isn’t being leveraged back into the product development cycles, isn’t being leveraged to better understand how the consumers are gaining value from those products. As a result of that, and 10 years of working in that space, we decided to spin off a new company called Holios.

Holios is designed to collect the millions and billions of data points that these smart products generate, organize them, augment them, and enrich them with additional information that can create value to our customers, who are the product manufacturers, and then give them a layer of insight and analysis on top of that data so that they can understand better how their consumers engage with those products, and ultimately, deliver on a vision that we have, which is help create a more frictionless world by creating products that meet consumer need right at the perfect time.

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What Challenges Have You Faced?

There’s a lot of different challenges that we face as entrepreneurs and as business owners. For me in particular, I really challenge myself with better managing my time. The overall day-to-day responsibilities and needs of the organization, the needs of our customers, draw on that time. We all want more time to either be better humans, healthier, spend more time with our family, be a better spouse. Those things really internally, if I could master time management, I think I would share that with everyone and really help them understand how to make the most of it. Because at the end of the day, time is a finite resource and probably the most valuable resource that we can’t reclaim.

What Advice Can You Offer Other Entrepreneurs?

I think the most important thing for entrepreneurs is to become self-aware. I think entrepreneurs have a unique ability of being Superman-like in our mindset. We want to run through walls. We think we’re capable of anything and everything. In some ways, we may be. But being efficient in understanding where you may not be strongest in your skill set will help you assess where you can augment and build a team to support you.

Doing a little bit of self-awareness, finding your blind spots, will help you identify where you could use the most support. Then as you think about that support team and that network that you build out, for me, it’s about finding people that you like and that you like to work with. Those two don’t necessarily go together. There’s people I like, and there’s people I like to work with, but if you can find people you like and like to work with, then I think you’ve really got a home run. If they can augment some of those gaps you’ve identified through self-awareness, you’re on a path for success.

Where Do You See BlueFin-Holios in 3-5 Years?

Our goal is to help drive a frictionless world. We really see that the understanding of data, particularly as it relates to how people interact with products, is extremely important in our mission of what we’re trying to do. I just read a research report yesterday that, people, on average, have over 80 different apps on their phone, and they use over half of them on a monthly basis. When you think about taking non-smart products, digitizing them, then what used to be constrained by what a product can do as the physical real estate and the number of buttons you can put on it, and a human can understand, and you add a digital layer that has infinite options to control that in infinite ways, it becomes really, really confusing for a consumer to understand how to find that value.

And in three to five years, Holios is helping every company that builds smart product unlock that value for the consumers, so that they can create a long term relationship that drives value on both sides of the equation, between the customer and the brand itself.

What Value Has Gesmer Updegrove Provided to BlueFin-Holios?

Gesmer was really instrumental in getting Holios off the ground. The idea for Holios really was spawned out of Bluefin. We had done some initial development within the consulting business that we needed to make sure we cleanly spun out into its own entity in Holios.

Gesmer was part of that process for us. They helped us separate the IP from Bluefin, put it into Holios, formulate the company in a way that made it nice and clean and attractive to new potential investors moving forward. They’ve been involved with the formation of the company, they’ve been involved with the trademark research within there, and very critical in the introduction of some of our key advisors that we now have on our team, as well as service providers and potential investors. So an A+ to Gesmer for being part of our journey so far.

Why Do You Go With Gesmer?

I go with Gesmer because they truly are the most approachable and trustworthy firm that I’ve worked with. I think it’s really important as a young entrepreneurial company to make sure that you have trusted partners in your circle that can help you save time and resources. Their experience, their breadth of services is unmatched. It really has helped me advance where the business needs to be at this time and at this stage and allow me to focus on things that create value and growth in the business while they protect the baseline of what we’ve established. That’s extremely important to me.

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