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Meet The Ware Force: Ian Smith

Ian Smith

As a young company, hiring the right people is crucial to success. We’re proud of the culture we’re building at Ware and want you to meet the people behind our warehouse automation technology. These are the people that make it happen.

We’re beginning the series with our two co-founders that started it all: Ian Smith and Joseph Moster. First up is Ian, CEO, and Co-Founder of Ware. 

Keep reading to learn more about Ian, his vision for the company, and where he thinks the supply chain industry is headed.

Name: Ian Smith
Role:
CEO & Founder
Location:
San Francisco, CA

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

A: I’m from a little town called the H (Houston) in Texas and lived close to NASA. My dad worked at NASA so I grew up playing with all the cool training programs in the building that he ran.

I got my degree from Utah Valley University, which is an aviation university. If I’m being honest, I didn’t originally know what I wanted to do when I grew up. So, I studied for an aviation management degree, which led to me traveling a lot domestically in the U.S. I’m a trained helicopter pilot, commercial pilot, and instructor, and I worked in aerospace and aviation for three to four years after that.

In 2013, I started to hear more about drones. I was actually in my car in Houston about to go into Randall’s to do my grocery shopping and I heard an NPR story about drones. It was all about someone that had attached cameras to a drone to provide high-resolution imagery to customers. From that moment on, I became obsessed with knowing more about drones. 

I then moved to France and worked for a company called Delair, which manufactured long-range fixed-wing drones. I worked there for almost two years, building the hardware for the drones.

In 2015, I joined DroneDeploy, which is what brought me to San Francisco. There, I ran the marketing department before moving into sales, and then over to partnerships and business development. I spun up the world’s largest drone data marketplace app, which still holds that crown today. It was an eye-opening experience and one I really valued, I worked with so many different industries, and learned so much that helped me get to where I am today. 

Following DroneDeploy, I became the U.S. General Manager for a German company called Tink, which is where I got my first exposure to distribution and inventory challenges.  

I also started and ran a podcast called Commercial Drones FM. The latest episode was actually with Adam Bry, the CEO of Skydio, our drone partner.

Q: How did you start Ware?

A: While I was at Tink, I was introduced to who would become my co-founder, Joe. I was told that he was working on technology that deploys drones inside facilities to track inventory. Joe and I immediately got along and we sized up the market opportunity. We literally started by going door to door at different warehouses to validate all the challenges that we were seeing in the supply chain industry, specifically in relation to inventory management. 

We worked out the business plan and eventually started working on a name for the company. We brainstormed a ton of names and one day, it just came to us: Ware. Ware is a quadruple-entendre (warehouse, software, hardware, and importantly—where is my stuff?). It’s easy to say, it’s catchy and the number one thing we’re trying to do is tell everyone where everything is, so it works. We want to enable warehouses to run more efficiently than they do today.

Q: What does a typical day as CEO of Ware look like?

A: I usually come into the warehouse, make some coffee and I turn on some music to get me motivated for the day. I listen to everything from Irish folk music, to EDM, to epically long Indian ragas. I then start my meetings but a day for me can really involve a bit of everything from sales, marketing, planning, and strategy, to HR. No day is ever the same.

Q: What do you think is next for the supply chain industry?

A: I believe that technology is going to keep advancing. And with that, I think there has to be an advancement of the warehouse management system (WMS). You see these huge warehouses, which are extremely busy, there are hundreds of people that run them every day, yet we’re still relying on one-dimensional database systems.

It’s 2022—we have access to automation, digital twins, volumetric data, AI, and IoT. I believe that the future of warehousing is going to be much more 3 dimensional—4 dimensional if you want—and that WMS’s will need to keep up with all this technology. Warehouses are dynamic facilities and I think systems need to advance and be more dynamic with them. 

Our drone-based inventory management system integrates with the WMS, enabling people to have more insights into inventory control. We provide pictures of every piece of inventory in the warehouse. It’s a visual audit history of everything that’s happening in your warehouse with your most important asset—your inventory. If there’s no inventory, there’s no warehouse. We take pictures of it, we analyze it, and we help customers to do that faster, on a bigger scale, and with more automation.

Q: What do you think people need to know more about Ware?

A: That it’s possible today to do all the things I mentioned above, making your warehouse or your facility more efficient. We have real customers using our technology every single day to help consumers get better, fresher produce or goods faster and more reliably. We’re enabling people in inventory counting jobs to get access to more data, resolve exceptions faster, and focus on the big picture analysis of the inventory rather than having to count it by hand. We work with customers all the way from Fortune 100 companies, and multinational 3PLs, to regional grocers.

See how our drone-based inventory management technology can help you with our ROI calculator.

Stay tuned for the next meet the team in our series with Joseph Moster, CTO, and co-founder of Ware.