Movers & Shakers Interview with Prof. Garik Markarian, CEO and Founder, Rinicom

Rinicom, incorporated in 2002, is a privately owned Small Medium Enterprise (SME) specializing in the design and manufacture of state-of-the-art wireless technology to the first responders, military and professional security applications. The company has an extended line of products from legacy Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex (COFDM) systems to its latest pioneering COFDM IP Mesh and Ad-hoc systems. Rinicom's products help provide flexible and robust platforms for the transmission of video, voice and data in hostile environments.

Archana Rao - Industry Analyst, Physical Security group, talks with Prof. Garik Markarian - CEO and Founder, from Rinicom about the company products and offer diversity,  its R&D centre and  market opportunities and developments in the future.

Archana Rao (AR): Can you think about any significant breakthroughs in the last few (2-3 years or so), which are providing significant leverage for the company today?

Prof. Garik Markarian

Prof. Garik Markarian (GM): Rinicom has enjoyed significant breakthroughs during its history: the introduction of the world's smallest integrated COFDM/MPEG-2 miniature transmitter for covert surveillance and the first wireless point-to-multi-point RiniMAX system. However, the most significant breakthrough was the decision we made to move to IP COFDM video surveillance, which resulted in the development and introduction of the first COFDM IP ad-hoc video mesh system for first responders called RapidNet. This product offers the most superior performance in multi-path and non-line-of-sight environments and meets all the requirements of end-users.

AR: What are the challenges you see for wireless video surveillance vendors and how your company has overcome them?

GM: We face some of the same challenges that every company faces within the communications sector with significant competition from the flood of cheap products from the Far East. The recession also had some impact with budget cuts due to the economic slowdown.

Specific to our company, we confront the challenge of gaining the trust from large customers who still consider Rinicom as a small company with associated risks. To overcome this situation we decided to focus on what we do the best, i.e. the introduction of new leading edge products, improving customer relations by means of providing better service and technical support and establishing strategic partnerships with large corporate customers.

AR: Could you provide a  brief highlight on the growth rate of the company over the last few years? What factors have been the most important in terms of driving positive growth and how do you expect those to change over time?

GM: The global economic slowdown of 2009 did impact our business, but we still managed to grow at about 5%. However, the average growth during the past 5 year period from 2004 - 2008 was at about 35%. Our plans to manage economic slowdown started to bring positive results and we project up to 60% growth in 2010.

Our firm foothold in the UK, Russia, Far East and Middle East markets due to strong partners and subsidiary companies have been crucial for this success. In addition, the introduction of new products and entering of new markets by setting the  Rinicom Asia branch in Singapore and distribution partnership in China have been critical drivers for our growth.

We further look to strengthen our position by entering the US market to address the growing interest towards our RapidNet product.

AR: Where do you see your product/offer  "fits" low (SME, etc.) or high end (Critical Infrastructure, etc.) of the market? Why?

GM: To diversify our offering we address multiple markets or end-users. Among our customers we have SMEs as well as large multi-national corporate, government agencies and non-governmental organisations. We cover a wide range of applications such as for emergency, marine, underground and in covert areas.

Our systems have been selected and used by the Madrid Fire Brigade, Prague Emergency Services, Munich Police, Singapore Military, Chinese Military, Russian Security Services  and Madrid Underground to name a few.

AR: How do you educate end users on your products/offering?

GM: We provide training and un-limited technical support to our customers however, this comes only after sales. It would be highly beneficial if we can create awareness about our products early on. We have started to address this issue through marketing promotions, participation and presentations at trade shows and more importantly by staying in touch with our contacts.

AR: What are some of the measures that the company has taken to address customer needs?

GM: We have the engineers from our R&D lab working along with our customer's engineers to build the right technical specifications; we provide invitations to our customers to attend major events and shows and also produce white papers.

Our key differentiation, however, is offering customized solutions to meet our customer's needs. No customer is the same and all of them have different requirements. Hence, all our systems are designed and built to accommodate every customers needs.

AR: What do you consider as your key business differentiators? Have they  given you an edge over your competitors)?

GM: It is without doubt our people. All our R&D engineers have MSc and PhD degrees. This helps with successful completion of complex technological projects.

AR: How does Rinicom's investment in R&D compare to that of the competition?

GM: We do not use any venture funding. Instead, all our profits are re-invested into R&D towards the growth of the company. So far over £1.5 million have been invested during the last 5 years. This is all from profits and revenues.

We also collaborate with educational institutions such as Lancaster University, leveraging on their research excellence. Currently, Rinicom sponsors 5 PhD students at the university who work on projects defined by Rinicom. We also plan to recruit these students upon completion of their PhDs.

AR: How do you compare your equipment prices with that of other wireless video surveillance providers in the market?

GM: Our products are 20-25% cheaper than similar ones from our competitors due to our low overheads. The company brings in this saving from different angles. The most important is our access to pool of talented University - based PhD engineers and research assistants who get to work on industry projects for a fraction of the cost thereby benefitting both the involved parties. In addition, Rinicom is a lean and mean company of over 30 employees cutting on all non-essential extras and investing into staff development programme towards their future.

AR: Can you give us a glimpse of what are the opportunities you wish to tap in the near future? Where would you see the wireless video surveillance market five years from now?

GM: The market for COFDM IP Mesh video systems is only opening and Rinicom is planning to capitalise on being the company with the first product. In addition, we are expanding into other markets which are opened as a result of need for data fusion. We believe that the next "big thing" will be intelligent video surveillance when video streams are combined with video analytics, with location and positioning along with biometric data. We are working in this direction to ship these innovative products to our preferred customers at the earliest.

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