In an interview with Insights Success, Erik Bjontegard, Founder of Total Communicator Solutions, Inc., and Inventor of the Spark Compass platform, shares insights on various attributes to become a successful leader. He also shares his experiences on his journey as an entrepreneur and the challenges and lessons that came out of it. Also, he broadly discusses the company’s core competencies and its establishment in the market.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Erik and Insights Success:
Give a brief overview of your background as an entrepreneur.
As a former rocket scientist that arrived in USA with a dream and 2 suitcases, I have always been looking for new frontiers and challenges – my motto is “never a dull moment”. Inventing within corporations like NASA and Qualcomm is naturally hugely exciting, but things take time and the size of those companies and their infrastructures make it hard and slow to get things done. That is what drives me – the desire to get things done. I had to leave these large corporations where an entrepreneurial mindset like mine may not always work, to start my own company where it is all about that; getting things done.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal to the target audience?
We always ask ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘why would I want this’ from the end user’s perspective –– and “is this the right thing to do” from a company perspective. The latter is an important guiding principle in all we do – ‘is it the right thing to do?’
Describe some of the vital attributes that every entrepreneur should possess.
True grit, the stubbornness to never give up, and being able to listen and adjust as needed. Also, being able to look in the mirror and listen to advice, while being able to laugh and have a positive attitude.
What were the past experiences, achievements or lessons that have shaped your journey?
Being able to test and try, fail, then fix and stand up again. Never give up. Have courage and be calm when all those around you are freaking out and the storm is brewing – stay calm, be a leader and be calm – thereby showing courage. I have been stuck in a submersible on the bottom of the North Sea and then all that mattered was finding a fix to the problem. Later transforming my vision and idea into a company, creating a patent family around the invention and built solutions based on it was easier – that’s not a matter of survival! Now, I am enjoying next phase building global companies around my inventions. Bottom line is; keep the vision, test, fail and fix until it is realized – and stay calm even if you are stuck!
How do you strategize your game plans to tackle competition in the market?
Don’t worry about copycats – copying is the best flatter you can have. Be a leader! Others are bound to follow. Know that when you are first, others may catch up and try to suppress you – which they will try to do until they are done and cannot invent more – so – never stop growing, never stop expanding and inventing – you will soon bypass the copycats that are stuck not able to invent more. Keep testing, trying, failing and fixing until you get it done!
What were the primal challenges and roadblocks you faced during the initial phase of your career as an entrepreneur?
While a lack of capital was a challenge, it forced us to be innovative. It is also hard to being too early. No-one understood what “contextually intelligence”, IoT and AR were 7 years ago when I started. Certainly, no one had even begun thinking that there could be a centralized “brain” that could control it all and connect the physical with the digital. Back then this was nearly “crazy talk”. Now, we know there are going to be many more connected devices than humans on the globe. Imagine when they are all connected and doing something good for us. I am not talking Artificial Intelligence – that is made to replace us, I am talking about “Augmented Intelligence” which is meant to make us – humans – better. Now we are building this – the Spark Compass platform is exactly that, the brains to connect the physical with the digital providing Augmented Intelligence to communications. I am mentioning this to show we continue to push the boundaries, innovate and expand the goals, even though it may sound as pure fantasy now – we are making it become the baseline for the future.
Where do you see yourself in the near future and what are your future goals?
I will always do what excites me and drive hard, find new ways, never doing what is easy just because it is easy! Rather, I have a sole purpose – a burning desire – to create a legacy that wherever I am and whatever I do, it’s better when I leave than when I arrived. Simply stated, I want to make the world a better place with my inventions. SO – lofty goals, but achievable by doing one step at a time while keeping the sight on the end goal making sure every step leads towards it; using technology for the betterment of us all.
What is your advice for budding and emerging entrepreneurs?
Go for it. Try it. Get it done, if it fails – which it certainly will at some stage – find out what went wrong and quickly fix it – and do it again, again and again until you succeed. And have fun! Create excitement! Even when it is scary – have courage and overcome the fear. Go for it. Get it done! Find a dream, follow it and make it come TRUE.
About the Company
Founded in 2012, Total Communicator Solutions, Inc. is based in San Diego and have offices and team members in New York, Los Angeles, London and Manchester, Spain, New Zealand, Singapore and Norway. The company has developed the Spark Compass, a fully integrated, contextually intelligent mobile communications platform for platforms. The solution leverages real-data analytics with real-time actions and events based on the collected data, combined with location, user, and activity knowledge, to deliver curated experiences on mobile devices based on the data collected and AI algorithms.
The company’s patented, contextually intelligent communications platform, Spark Compass, integrates proximity beacons, NFC, augmented reality, blockchain data storage, advanced payments and other IoT sensors. With several installations, Spark Compass is used by enterprises such as airports, hospitals, university facilities, sport venues, and convention centers. Total Communicator Solutions is headquartered in San Diego, CA, with locations in USA, Spain, Mexico, UK, Norway, and New Zealand.