Joe Montgomery is the chief executive officer of Omveria, a Lexington-based tech company that's on the verge of launching a new app technology for mobile devices. The company website features the tagline, "One download. One Touch. Millions of Businesses." Joe joined Tom Martin to spell out just what that means, and to talk about the company as well.
Martin: Tell us about the company name, Omveria. What's that mean?
Montgomery: We wanted something we thought had a good ring to it, and when you go to a Google search, we're the only thing that comes up.
Martin: Who else is on the executive team, and who came up with this idea?
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Montgomery: Our company was founded by myself; Rick Baker, our chief technology officer; and Buddy Bryant, another businessman here in Lexington. We were recently joined by Ralph McBarron as our chief operating officer. But the idea behind this came from Rick Baker, who is our technology architect and innovator. And it's something that we've been working on for about 18 months now.
Martin: And what exactly does Omveria do?
Montgomery: Omveria is a mobile business engagement and communication platform that's built on some new, revolutionary location technologies from Apple called iBeacons. It's a very active space. A lot of mobile app platforms are going in this direction. But what is different about Omveria are a couple of patent-pending groundbreaking technologies that we developed right here in Lexington. Both have been recognized and approved by Apple and Android.
The first one is what we call a dynamic app structure. It's a gateway to potentially millions of business apps. Businesses, sports arenas and nonprofit organizations can have their own app, and they're stored in the cloud on our system without using up the mobile user's phone memory or cluttering their screen. It's a real problem in mobile app technology right now. There're literally millions of apps out there. But because of limited memory and screen space, most people only download and save about 25 or 30 apps. Most apps get deleted or are never used.
So, we developed a system, which levels the playing field for these millions of businesses. You can reach an unlimited number of apps through our system very easily and sometimes automatically.
The second pillar of our technology is the advancement of location technologies, which is what drives a lot of this. So, to give you an example, what we can do with our location technologies is put the mobile user into the environment where he's at. We can deliver information relevant to his location and to the time where he is. There is so much information out there. All of the information that humankind has ever developed and published is at our fingertips now, and it's overwhelming at times. So, we've developed our technology around getting the right information to the right person, at the time he needs it and based on where he is.
Martin: Is the "beaconing" component of this originally an Apple technology that Omveria is expanding on in some way?
Montgomery: That's exactly right. Beacon technology — the iBeacon — is a protocol that Apple owns and licenses to a number of Beacon manufacturers. We were one of the first companies that received a development kit and literally right here in Lexington is one of the first Beacon-enabled platforms that was developed by our company. We've recognized some of the limitations of the existing technology, so we have another business group in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is developing and advancing these kind of technologies for Beacons.
Martin: Let's look at this from the user perspective. The person who is walking by or near one of these Beacons with their cellphone. What happens?
Montgomery: The user downloads an app that's on our system and an icon goes onto their phone. This is where our innovative technology kicks in. Rather than that app being stored on the phone and every other subsequent app being stored on the phone, the apps are stored in the cloud on our system, and what is actually saved on your phone, so you don't use up all your memory, is a dynamic app platform that we have programmed. So, as a user, if I'm walking around downtown Lexington, I'm picked up by our location technology, it will pull the relevant app or apps on to your phone and ask you if you want to enter into their app experience. You don't have to go back to the app store. You don't have to search, download or save. We developed this on the principle that the phone knows where it is. So, why search when you already know where you are, based on your phone?
Martin: Tell us what that user experience would be, if they had activated the app and they were walking by a place that's using it.
Montgomery: Sure. It's a consumer-to-business engagement and communication mobile app platform, but we have built it in on a social construct. And what I mean by that is, if you look at the world we live in now, we get our news from the Web. We get our entertainment. We do business. We even socialize. And it's become the predominant device for us to connect with the rest of the world. And the dominant way that people get to the Web now is their phone. So, we've created a system that is fun and useful to each individual user. Getting back to the theme of what is relevant to me walking around Lexington: what do I want to see and do? So, it is all kinds of preferences and tools for the user to be able to get the kind of information that he wants.
Martin: Like, 'I like hot dogs, but I don't like hamburgers?'
Montgomery: Exactly. You may not care anything about hamburgers at all and you can block that out. You have to give the user that ability. What I mean though on the social construct, something that we've done very differently than any other is that we have mirrored things like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube where the user wants to be part of the story. And so, we have developed our app to give them that outlet: 'Here's what I enjoyed about an event I went to in Lexington, Kentucky,' and they can share a video of that. And guess what? The statistics prove that this is what users want. They see more credibility in a testimonial from just the everyday person that's experiencing life than maybe some multimillion dollar ad campaign out of Madison Avenue. And so, we've built our platform to be able to give the user that ability and then we bring it to you based on your location.
Martin: How do you monetize this technology? How do you make money on this?
Montgomery: It's free to users. Our whole design concept puts the user at the forefront. That's the way the world works now. It used to be consumers followed businesses. Now, businesses have to follow consumers because we have these little devices in our pockets that we carry around with us. So, the monetization of it is primarily on subscriptions that businesses and organizations pay. They pay a very small monthly fee to be on the system and get access to the very robust and intuitive content management delivery system that we built. We build their app on our system. We help them maintain their presence on the system. ...
We're launching this in Lexington. It'd be the first market anywhere. We have an anchor client in Rupp Arena. We'll be rolling out a Rupp Arena app sometime in mid- to late August in a beta format, and then full-fledged sometime around early October. We're starting to bring businesses on the system right now so that there's some value to users, but we're really not promoting it to users yet. We'll be kicking off a campaign to educate and make people here in Lexington aware of this really cool and fun technology that we hope can be very useful to them in navigating around Lexington.