AV Insider Spotlight : Bruno Napoli, Co-Founder @ Krika

Each week, I am highlighting some of the incredible people who are in the Audio Video Industry. As this blog is mostly about AV insiders, today we are profiling Bruno Napoli .

Here is a brief intro about him.
Bruno Napoli has worked in the Audiovisual industry from 1990. He is currently Co-Founder at Krika.

1.Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?

Just after graduation as an electrician/electrotechnical in 1988 I started to work in the construction industry and in the maintenance of big electrical machines in factories. Working as an electrician and an electrotechnical for several years gave me solid roots, the understanding of the rules in the construction industry and what’s involved in building a house. While I was working as an electrician, my passion for audio and video was growing. I had my first Laserdisc player in 1987. One day of 1992, as I was walking into a brand new Laserdisc shop in Paris, I asked if they might need some help to sell and install “Home Theater”. As an electrician plus my background and growing passion for AV, installing Home Cinema was piece of cake. They hired me, and that was my first officials steps into this worlds. Then… I’ve done almost all possible jobs in this AV industry. I’ve been a custom installer for 17 years, a journalist, blogger, a distributor, a manufacturer and now service provider.

Recently, my brother and I founded Krika to manufacture and sell remote supervision systems dedicated to the AV industry. And as my brother and I always want to move forward and stay innovative, we decided to pivot our business into a 24/7 Concierge service for Home Technology Professional. Basically, Custom Installers can outsource their support call to us. Just go to http://www.krika.io and you’ll find out.

2.What do you think is the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry?

Even if it can be strange to say this, it’s so easy to start a business of Home Technology Professional that it is counterproductive. There is too much passion involved, and passion in the business are rarely profitable. In most case, you do not need any certification, training, graduation, license or specific insurance to start doing this. No “natural selection” at all, so mostly any handyman AV enthusiast or ex Disc Jockey with not a lot of education can start this business, thinking it will be easy money combining with their passion. They also start this business because they like to do what they want, the way they want and does not want to have any boss anymore. So they start… and then the nightmare begin because suddenly they realize that they need a lot of manufacturer training if they want to stay up to date and this industry now require a heavy knowledge in network and IT. Drilling holes in walls and connecting HDMI is now just 20% of the job. The rest is done on a computer trying to program home automation, network stuff and follow a lot of procedures. This job is not “fun” anymore as it used to be 10 years before. It’s now a job that require a level of professionalism as every other job in the construction industry. Probably the most important thing is the fact that no one seems to realize the level of responsibilities that weigh on the shoulders of a Home Technology Professional. We are not installing home cinema and audio distribution anymore. The systems we deal now rules the day to day life of our clients. They need it to lock the doors, to turn on/off the light, the HVAC, shading, the security system. Home Technology Professional should realize now that they are dealing with a LOT of serious legal responsibilities…

First, too many custom installers jump into this job with a total lack of understanding of how a house is built and what are the rules of the construction industry. This lack of knowledge create a lot of misunderstanding with electricians, architects and interior designers. This might be why the construction industry never had really accept those “cow boy” of AV and Home Automation that seems to come in conquered land. Today we pay the price of our insolence realizing Lennar preferred Amazon to install their connected house instead of Home Technology Professional. If I have an advise for someone who would like to start his company as a Home Technology Professional: Take one year or two and work with an electrician! Then, take another year of two and work for an IT company that create and maintain networks for small business and enterprise, then take another two years to work for a Home Technology Professional. Then… you’ll decide if you still want to do it or not. I think today it’s the minimum for anyone who want to be a Home Technology Professional. This will save you 10 years of trouble.

Second, as the only thing that drive custom installers is their passion, they like to share it with everyone. They shine only through the fancy brands they sell and try to impress clients with “Watts, Millions of pixels, impressive size of screen, and obscure acronyms like DTS, THX… “. They totally forgot that except themselves, people just don’t care about technology. It’s even worse, in fact, technology freaks out everybody. People buy a way to be able to watch and listen the content they want, and they don’t care if it’s in 720p on their iPad. They also forget that all gears they sell can be found cheaper everywhere else on the web now. When you entrap yourself in this mindset, your only solution to sell is to be cheaper than the cheapest and beg for a small fee for installation. You end up doing small margin and you’re literally the slave of all your clients.

Three, they buy with their own wallet, convinced their client would never spend more… Almost all Home Technology Professional comes from a lower class of the population and they do not have a high level of education. Therefore, they are not used to deal with big numbers. It’s always an awkward moment for them to show a quotation with a number that they could not make themselves even if they work for 10 years. So they usually give discount even before they start to talk to the client, and offer installation, service and maintenance forever! This is also related to the fact that they make people dream with technology instead of an experience… Technology has a price, experience is priceless…

3.What are the positives of working in this industry?

So much money and opportunity in this industry but only for the flexible and open minded. We are now an industry of service much more than an industry that make margin moving boxes from the trunk of our truck to the house of our clients. The installations we use to make 15 years ago were not critical for end users. It was all about TV, audio and home cinema. If the system fail, client was pissed off, but no one was in danger. The systems we install now rules the whole life of end users, not only AV, but also lightning, shading, HAVC and security. Our AV and Home Automation industry is about to merge with the construction industry, and the next few years are about to be very interesting. A lot of Custom Installers never realize that the day they had to leave their comfortable shop to go at a client’s house to install a plasma TV on the wall, they automatically become part of the construction industry. Now the real game starts.


[RELATED] : If you have missed any of the previous interviews, please click here.

4.What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent ?

Same as you need a special license, graduation and insurance to be an electrician, I would like all country to make our business more professional with a legal framework and clear responsibility. Here and there, we can see small changes, but as long as our AV industry will has no legal framework we will not evolve. Custom Installers just forget that they are not the AV guys anymore that just deliver a TV and set it up. They are part of the construction industry, but with the legal framework of an AV corner shop.
Almost 99% AV so call “professional” are just install stuff and let the client without service and maintenance contract. It’s even worse because none of them even think about selling maintenance to keep all connected devices they install secure enough against all possible cyberattack. But as I just said before, now our AV & Home Automation industry is about to merge with the construction industry and we will have no choice to follow their rules. Some people will have to adapt or do something else.

5.Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you?

The ideal client for Krika Concierge should be ready to change his mind set and forget all about the old fashion way we use to make money. The challenge of our service at Krika concierge is that it’s a totally new concept to custom installer and we found out that the more receptive ones are the ones that have a background in and industrial or in IT channel because service, maintenance and outsourcing is very common.

6.If you were going to start over, what would you do differently ?

BIG question… I don’t think I’ll change anything. This journey has been teaching us a lot, and there are no other ways to learn that doing all possible mistakes. And you know what? There are not really shortcuts to success. You have to learn and it takes time.

7.Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?

I’m a work alcoholic with no disciplines and that’s why I’m trying as much as I can to learn how to meditate.
Selling remote supervision has been very frustrating for the last 4 years, I found that writing blogs gives me lots of satisfaction, relief and peace of mind. I try to write one article per month, I’m extremely demanding with the quality of my blogs so it take me long.

8.Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?

I don’t really have apps and gears I use to be more productive. I have a Microsoft Office 360 subscription, so all my devices, emails account, files, folders and meetings are synchronized.

9. How do you stay relevant in this industry?

I listen to a lot of video and audio blogs, I try to go to most conventions/shows and I always take the opportunity to talk with everybody.

Please connect with him on Linkedin.

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