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Gamble on analytics paying off for Waterloo firm

Marc Holtenhoff made a bet on video analytics four years ago and it seems to be paying off.




May 8, 2008
By Neil Sutton

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Holtenhoff joined Waterloo, Ont.-based Aimetis in 2004, shortly after
the company was founded. Prior to that, he’d worked for Xerox and
started his own IP security firm, which he sold to Verisign in 2002.

Following some graduate school work at the Copenhagen Business School
in Denmark, Holtenhoff was looking for his next career move. The
video space seemed to be moving into a new era and he wanted to be part
of a small company with good technology and big prospects.

“You see companies like Cisco, GE, IBM making 20-year bets investing in
security. People see physical security as a necessary thing,” says
Holtenhoff. “The growth of physical security combined with the reduction in cost of
cameras and the development of applicable standards is resulting in
potentially explosive market growth.”

Aimetis’s key product is a software suite called Symphony, which comes in three flavours.

The standard suite is recording software which includes storage, remote
live view, and can scale to 200 cameras on one PC. The professional
suite is standard plus alarm and event management. The Enterprise
package is probably what excites Holtenhoff the most: all of the above
plus video analytics.

“We’re one of the few companies that combine video management software
and video analytics software,” he says. The solutions are structured so
that they appeal to the broadest market range — small businesses to
enterprise — and allow customers to graduate from one suite to the next
as their business grows.

“The market is at very different stages of adoption. There are people
who still have VCRs and DVRs, and there are some who are well advanced
and it’s all IP. No matter where you are in the spectrum of adoption,
you can migrate from DVRs to IP surveillance in a very cost-effective
way,” he says.

Aimetis has sold into the public sector, transportation, law
enforcement, retail, education, automotive and telecommunications.
Marquee customers include BMW, Nissan, Sprint, BT, the London (U.K.)
Metropolitan Police, Netherland Railways and FIFA soccer. Recent
Canadian wins include two Ontario municipalities: the City of Cambridge
and the City of Oshawa.

The software is open platform, supports analogue and IP, and runs on
commercial Intel servers. “It’s of tremendous value to our partners because now they can build the systems to their customers’
requirements,” he says.

Aimetis sells exclusively through the channel, via distributors like
Ingram Micro. Aimetis also offers a training program to resellers. Upon
completion, partners can take advantage of preferential pricing and
lead generation programs.

The channel is a big part of Aimetis’s growth strategy and the company
has hired new staff to bolster channel relationships “We’re in the
process of making further investments into our channel,” says
Holtenhoff. “We think it’s important – that one’s of the reasons we
partnered with Ingram Micro,” a huge distributor with significant ties
to the IT industry.

Aimetis is also working on its channel relationships outside of Canada
and the U.S. It operates in 15 countries through local resellers and
recently signed with a distributor in Latin America. Partners are being
considered to tackle Asia markets. Right now, Aimetis’s largest market
is Europe and the company operates an office in Frankfurt, Germany to
manage that side of the business.

Not surprisingly, new product development and innovation also figures
heavily into Aimetis’s future. The video analytics market is moving
rapidly, and the company wants to stay on top of it, particularly as
larger players like Cisco start to take more of an active interest in
the security market.

Being in Waterloo is a clear benefit, says Holtenhoff as Aimetis is
on the doorstep of one of the most prestigious math and
computer science universites in the world – the University of Waterloo –
and the company is part of a technology community that includes the likes
of Research in Motion.

“It’s no surprise that we’re here in Waterloo, because all the
scientists that do this kind of stuff are right here in our backyard.
We view in the long term that this is the value of what we’re doing,”
he says.

The company is also looking beyond the security market, providing video
analytics solutions as special applications for retail, health-care and
whatever other opportunities arise. One health-care client, for
example, is using analytics to ensure that medical equipment is
properly cared for.

“Usually to clean a dialysis machine properly, it takes 20 minutes,” says Holtenhoff. “Based on our software, they’ll know if someone was in the room for
only 30 seconds, and they can be pretty confident that they didn’t take
the time to clean the dialysis machine properly.”

Aimetis is also selling a solution to a rail authority wants to use the
software for people counting to plan for better pedestrian traffic
management.

“Because we have a broad distribution, our customers come to us with
new ideas all the time. A lot of the time, we can do some things and
add value where we hadn’t thought of before,” he says.


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