Damon Kirchmeier is the CEO of Blue Eye Defense, an AI software security company highly trained in video surveillance. He joined Blue Eye in 2015 after investing in the company and has been leading the team ever since. Before joining Blue Eye, Damon was the Director of EPIC Venture Fund, Partner at Auxano Funding, and President at Rockwell Time USA. He also co-founded InnoVentures Capital and went on to raise and invest two funds into more than 100 companies including Entrata, Jive Communications, and CarbonX.
Damon holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University and an MBA from the University of Utah. He’s also a graduate of the Naval Nuclear Power School, holds silver and bronze medals from the Masters World Championships of mountain biking, and is the past Honorary Commander of the 421st fighter squadron.
Proactive Theft Protection with Damon Kirchmeier of Blue Eye Defense
In this episode…
Where can your business turn for security when a traditional guard is not the right fit? How can you find a budget-friendly solution without sacrificing quality?
Damon Kirchmeier, CEO of Blue Eye Defense, believes in proactive prevention. Through smart camera technology, he is changing the cyber security space to provide better protection and access to authorities without draining your budget. So, what are the steps you can take to secure your business and deter crimes from happening behind your doors?
In this episode of the Key Insights Show, Scott Johnson talks with Damon Kirchmeier, CEO of Blue Eye Defense, about the progressive technology in the AI security surveillance workspace. Damon discusses the artificial intelligence algorithm that responds to security threats, innovative strategies to connect and grow in the community, and how to leverage technology with a price point that works.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Damon Kirchmeier shares how an investment ignited his career and passion for AI software security
- How active surveillance can provide a quick response and prevent crime
- Damon explains why Blue Eye Defense is a more efficient—and less expensive—option for businesses
- Damon talks about partnering with camera brands to produce growth and positive outcomes
- How technology is transforming video surveillance and intelligence tools
Resources Mentioned in this episode
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Welcome to the Key Insights Show where we feature CEOs and how they’re thriving in today’s market. Now, let’s get started with the show.
Scott Johnson 0:13
Scott Johnson here I’m the host of the show where we talk with leaders in the security industry about challenges they’ve overcome and how they are thriving in today’s market. This episode is brought to you by Key Marketing Group, a key marketing group, we specialize in getting more inbound leads for security companies. Our proven process works time and time again to drive more potential customers to your website and get them to contact you. More leads in as little as three months. Get started today by going to keymarketinggroup.com. That’s keymarketinggroup.com. Today’s guest is Damon Kirchmeier, CEO of Blue Eye Defense in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah, businesses are increasingly opting for smart cameras and remote guarding rather than inefficient patrol services. And that’s exactly what Blue Eye Defense specializes in. Damon, welcome to the show.
Damon Kirchmeier 1:05
Thanks. Thanks for having me.
Scott Johnson 1:07
Yeah, so what got you started in this crazy business?
Damon Kirchmeier 1:11
Well, I didn’t come by didn’t come by the normal way. I actually came in as an investor. I saw these guys that had a great ideas back in about know 2014 15. Great idea. Great concept had a few beta sites out there. But they were struggling mightily with with capital and with pulling everything together. So I made I made a little investment in and they invited me into, to, to help them out. Little did I know, that turned into my profession and passion for the last six years.
Scott Johnson 1:46
That’s awesome. So were you part of a private equity group? Or was it more of your own thing, or as part of
Damon Kirchmeier 1:54
a Venture Capital Group in Salt Lake
Scott Johnson 1:56
Oh, cool. Okay. Yeah. So what attracted you to and Blue Eye was your acquisition of you start somewhere else?
Damon Kirchmeier 2:04
Yeah, no, it was, it was Blue Eye We came in as minority shareholder, Blue Eye, is what they discovered was an industry, you know, the Guard, guard industry or security industry, that has largely been untouched for, I don’t know, 10,000 years, it’s, it’s always been, it’s been somebody with a weapon, or, you know, Roman times, there’s a century stand on there with a shield and a spear. And, you know, the industry is just ripe for disruption. And the technologies are coming together, the cameras are coming together, the IP, IP addressable cameras, and speakers, all of these technologies just started coming together at the same time. And it was the right time to figure out a way to, to open up the market at a lower price point and a better efficiency than what was there. Maybe these guys had all the pieces to disrupt the market, they just needed some help.
Scott Johnson 2:57
Yeah, I noticed your website mentions passive surveillance versus smart surveillance or smart cameras. A little bit about that?
Damon Kirchmeier 3:07
Well, when we’re trying to really define a market, and when you say security, it could mean anything, could be cybersecurity could be a guard. Yep. And a lot of people think cameras are security. Well, cameras are great, and they’re a great tool. But if you’ve ever installed cameras on your business, and then you had a crime, if the cameras worked properly, you have a nice video of it, and you can take that to the police and maybe that can help them solve it. But that’s passive, it didn’t do anything to stop the crime. It’s a bit of a scarecrow because a lot of thieves if they see they’re going to be recorded will think otherwise. So that’s, that’s helpful. But only a little bit. Now activists or Smart Security, we’re detecting that event and we’re jumping on and we’re seeing it happen before they have a chance to act and create problems for the business. So we come in and matter of seconds, we see what’s going on live on the property. And and we react in real time and stop them. So somebody is approaching the back door. We have a great video of three guys looks like you know casting from a B movie, they’ve got a bag and they were in mass and they have a crowbar. They walk up to the back door. We pick them up immediately we see it so hey, you guys with a crowbar in the bag, get out of here. And that’s it. They just scatter. And that that crime would have happened with cameras now that would have had a video of guys with a bag and and a crowbar and. And you know they would have seen them leaving with their property. But that’s passive. We’re active. Yeah, and
Scott Johnson 4:43
when you say we You mean Blue Eye monitoring those cameras and engagement.
Damon Kirchmeier 4:47
Okay. We are Yeah, that’s our service. We, we we implement and use our own technologies to do it. But that is our service. We are preventing crimes on our customers. properties. Yeah.
Scott Johnson 5:01
So how does that work? Now? I mean, anything proprietary, but you guys get some sort of alarm when there’s movement. But you know, what, if it’s an animal how, you know, how are you efficiently monitoring without getting on false alarms?
Damon Kirchmeier 5:13
Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good question Does anybody with a ring doorbell knows that, you know, any motion, sets off an alarm and, and that’s fine for your house, maybe you only get a, you know, a few a week. But if you look at an average commercial property, like an apartment or a parking garage, you may have if you’re, if you’re just detecting motion, you’ll probably have 1000s per night. That’s, you know, that’s not an exaggeration, that’s, that’s what happens. What we do is we have an artificial intelligence backed algorithm that recognizes people, animals, cars, and it knows the difference between them. And then we can also assign certain behaviors that we’re watching for, we don’t care if a person walks through, and they don’t stop. But if they stop, and they pause next to an item of interest, then we’re interested that triggers an alarm. And the artificial intelligence loop, we literally have 10s of millions of events now that we’ve monitored and tagged, and we use that information to feed it back into our system and make it smarter. So it can it’s it’s going to continue getting smarter and smarter. But we know that we take that those 1000s of alarms down to 20 that are of interest at night. And we’ll take a look at all 20 of them and determine whether there’s a threat and if we need to act or not.
Scott Johnson 6:35
Interesting. Yeah, I know, you guys do a lot of work in the self storage space. I mean, that must be tricky for the algorithm with all that foot traffic and people going in and out all the time.
Damon Kirchmeier 6:46
It is it is. Now in particular, the where we are effective is when the business is closed. During the day when people are coming and going your your normal activities. That’s typically not when the crime happens. But think of us coming on at the same time, you would have a security guard start. So you close the business. And now you want to keep people out. We do still have dozens or hundreds of alarms that come in, throughout the night. And because we’re on hundreds of sites at this point, but we have the ability to, you know, to track those efficiently move through them come to the resolution and then and then we tag everything to make it smarter the next time.
Scott Johnson 7:30
Yeah, great. Um, how have you been kind of growing and developing in this self storage space? I mean, you must have partners. I mean, it’s just it’s, there’s so much to it. And it’s hard to kind of get your foothold into once you’re in, you know, the, the Self Storage
Damon Kirchmeier 7:44
guys now. Yeah, and it’s a massive industry. And we do we have a great partner of open tech Alliance. They’re our partner, they’re out of Phoenix, Arizona, and they’ve been providing services into the self storage industry for almost 20 years now. They do things like kiosks, they have call center a lot of ancillary services. And we approached them because they already had the relationships with the customers. But they didn’t have a security solution. And they’ve been looking for something. And so now open tech will take us into into their self storage customers and all those that need a security security solution. They’re often contacted and asked if they know of something that’s happening, and, and so they’re our partner in that area. And because of the way we’ve designed the solution, it’s a very simple install goes in, goes in a day. It can be installed by a third party, we don’t have to send a truck or a crew. And that’s why we’re in more than 30 states now.
Scott Johnson 8:44
Wow. So what is it like when you come into these buildings? Was there typically an instant and now they’re ramping up security? Or is it new construction? Or all the
Damon Kirchmeier 8:54
above? Well, you know, it is all of the above, but there are two primary categories to two real drivers. One is somebody who already has a security guard. And they’re very, very expensive, and they tend to be inefficient. You know, we have a good example. There’s an apartment complex and Phoenix, they had three guards. They had a five story parking garage and a very, very large facility. And even with three guys doing everything they could, they still had constant car break ins at people sleeping in the garage and a lot of problems. We were able to come in using their existing cameras already had cameras throughout the entire garage, we were able to come in set up, they initially cut back to just one guard and us their crimes went down dramatically. They eventually dropped the other guards so they reduce their costs about about 80% and how to better result. So that’s a big one is somebody who already has a security solution in place and they’re looking for a more efficient, less expensive option. And then the other ones they are the best People that have just been robbed, or they just had a problem, or they’re, you know, they’ve got vagrancy, they have other problems on the site. And they’re their budgets don’t allow for a guard service. That’s much of the way, self storage, they don’t typically have the budget to have a guard who might be $3,000, to do a patrol up to, you know, 10 to $12,000, to be there for eight hours a night. And that’s just not in the cards for those guys. So we have those customers that are looking for a security solution. But your traditional guard just doesn’t
Scott Johnson 10:36
fit. Interesting. Yeah, makes sense. Might as well leverage technology. Yeah.
Damon Kirchmeier 10:41
You know, ultimately, that’s that’s what we’re doing. It’s about time that somebody came in leverage the technologies that are available to give a better service.
Scott Johnson 10:50
Yeah. So Self Storage aside for a minute here, you know, you’ve just been growing a lot. How are potential customers finding Blue Eye?
Damon Kirchmeier 10:59
You know, that’s the tough part. That’s really the tough part is right now. And we do these surveys quite frequently. If you ask a business owner, if you need security, what do you do? Well, I’m going to go and I’m going to Google security, and 50, guard companies are going to come up and I’m going to pick one. So they don’t know this solution exists. The only way we’re getting out there are partnering with with traditional camera installers, and partners like open tech Alliance, we use a lot of third party integrators all across the country, they already installed cameras and service customers, they’re now able to go back to the same customers and offer a security solution through the network the data installed previously. So that’s how we’re getting out there. But it’s, it’s a massive, massive market, it’s there are a number of players that are starting to get into this area. I see it as a rising tide. I welcome all of them. But we’re we’re all looking at it, you know, north of a $30 billion US market. And we can’t possibly get much mindshare, unless there’s a lot of us out there doing it. So, so we’re working on a good part of it is, is lead gen. You know, we have to target very closely what we’re looking for, but, you know, lead generation through the web, and then
Scott Johnson 12:18
our partners. Yeah, and you raise a good point about, they don’t know what they don’t know, they’re not searching for, you know, smart surveillance in self storage, because they don’t know it exists. And there’s a lot of tactics around that. Sorry, I have a seven year old running up and down the hallway behind me get hurt her favorite thing right now is to ring the doorbell is I’m in a meeting, of course. Got a lot of work and at home. But, uh, but yeah, so for example, you know, we see a lot of searches for access, control, access control, Chicago, or, you know, whatever. And that’s a savvy customer, they know what they want. Great. We want them to find your business. But then as you mentioned, you people searching for security, and then you get all these patrol guys coming up. One trick that some of our clients been having success with is writing a long form article, let’s just say two thoughts on you know, commercial security, Tucson, and then it’s, you know, patrol versus smart camera. And it’s like 1500 words juiced up with SEO, so people won’t know cameras exist, but when they search for it, they’ll find that article at the top. And then you kind of, you know, educate them and, you know, steer them in that
Damon Kirchmeier 13:25
direction. Yeah, we’ve we’ve started a little bit of you probably perused our websites and a few other blogs, and we’re starting down that path and having some success there. It’s, all of this takes time and build it up. And, and, but we’re seeing over the last two years in an effort on that side that web traffic is up. You know, when we see larger players that are also jumping in and there’s been acquisition in the area. That’s all helping, we’re seeing web traffic come up, and people are starting to know that this solution exists. It’s gonna take a while, but but it’s getting there.
Scott Johnson 14:02
Yeah, it does take a while. And there are some shortcuts to for example, right now, we’re using a lot of AI in SEO and it’s fascinating what it can do. For example, it can say, you know, alright, you want to rank in the top three for you know, commercial security Tucson. Okay, we need 1500 words, we need this, we need these other sites to link to yours, essentially giving you the blueprint, and that didn’t even exist a year ago. So this was really cool to see. Anyway, enough about that. So you’ve actually so you mentioned partners, it’s funny as I speak to different companies, it seems like the largest ones are very the larger more successful ones are partner heavy, and the ones that are stuck in kind of one to 5 million range are like all outbound space. So it’s kind of interesting, you know, I mean, part of there’s there’s nothing like a good partner.
Damon Kirchmeier 14:52
So we looked at it really simply and said, we have X number of dollars I can hire you know, at our at Our current growth rate, I can hire one more salesman every, you know, X number of months. Wow, that’s gonna take a long time. How else can we get out there and we looked at partners across the country. You know, open Tech is one the other local and regional integrators. They said, they have hundreds and hundreds of sales men and representatives. Let’s let’s go talk to those guys. And they’re getting recurring monthly revenue for reselling the service. You know, it becomes a win win. And we’re leveraging our few salesmen out to get hundreds of salesmen out for us.
Scott Johnson 15:38
Yeah, you mentioned it’s win win. And those relationships always start with giving and doing a good job. I mean, I can’t tell you, I’m sure you’re the same how many times we get approached by people that want to be partners and say, Yes, so tell me who your clients are introduced with them. Like, that’s not a partnership, you want access to my clients. I mean, you got to give, give, give for it to be a true, you know, symbiotic relationship. So
Damon Kirchmeier 16:01
a lot of what we’re finding ourselves doing in school get leads and a particular area that we don’t have a partner yet. And we’ll take those, and we’ll find out who the best integrator in the area is. And we’ll approach him and say, Hey, would you be interested in this? Here are four leads that are in your area that are very interested in the solution. And so we tend to seed the partnership and walk in with some some easy sales. Nice.
Scott Johnson 16:27
So where do you see the industry going? 510 years from now, you mentioned to no more? Yeah. But as far as tech, what do you think? What’s the next big thing?
Damon Kirchmeier 16:38
Yeah, there, there’s so much going on right now. It’s amazing. There’s, there’s been over a half a billion dollars poured into security technology just in the last 12 months. So it judging from where that’s going and where the dollars are flowing. There’s an awful lot going into the algorithms and the technology and different things about, you know, you’ve heard of gunshot detection, and facial recognition and license plate readers and, you know, integrating other sensors, besides visual, all of that’s going to continue on the platforms will be much more Internet of Things centric. So access control can be in with your security, you know, can tie in all these networks together, along with your business intelligence tools. There’s going to be there’s going to be consolidation, a lot of those different technologies together. But I think, I think from the industry standpoint, the big thing that we’re going to see is that there’s going to be a shift to technology in a way from manned guarding. man guarding will always have a place. Absolutely, it’s not, it’s not ever going away. But I think I think we’ll see a gradual shift away from traditional man guarding much more to technology with the man guards in response, there are a number of very cool technologies coming out, there’s a company called secure, for example, that is essentially, it’s a freelance guard type company, Uber for guard response where you can, if you need somebody immediately use an app, you hit a button, it goes out to the 50 qualified recipients with the app on the other side, they’re already pre qualified guards, and they can respond, I see that as becoming much more important to our solution over the next five years, because right now, we can rely on the police force to show up if we have a situation. But as those as those opportunities increase, we grow five times 10 times 100 times and our competitors due to the police won’t be able to do it, and we’re gonna have to be able to rely on private security for the response pace. So big picture, I think we’re gonna see a big leverage in all of these different technologies and in detecting potential crime. And then I think we’re gonna see the physical guarding decree declined somewhat and become much more response oriented. And and I think some of the big ones, some of the big guard companies are already looking into these solutions. And they’ve already invested in a number of the companies that do that. And so I think we’ll see that shift, but as big as the industry is, it’s not going to happen quickly, but I we will see that gradually chef. The The exciting thing, though, is that a lot of the companies and we mentioned self storage, that’s just one but there are a lot of private businesses right now that can’t think they can’t afford security. But leveraging this technology is going to bring it down to a level where you can have very good security for your business at a price point that that works. I mean, that’s a really exciting part is it’s it’s going to expand the market dramatically.
Scott Johnson 19:50
Yeah, that’s, that’s interesting. Yeah. And I know we only talked about self storage and you guys do all kinds of stuff. I just got off the phone with someone. The owner of the steel door ins to coffee no that But they’re a client of ours. You know, das isn’t a legion, the large steel door guys are all members. Um, but uh, they were saying now in high school, he was at a high school and they all had lanyards, tracking everywhere they were going if there’s an active shooter, they know everyone’s accounted for. And it just got me thinking, Oh, my God, I’m glad I went to school when I did. Open Campus, you know, so relax. But yeah, all guests, everyone had to have this
Damon Kirchmeier 20:26
land here. If you’re on campus. Yeah, there’s there’s been a real emphasis on school securities. There’s a real specialty in smart cities. And and you’ve heard enough number of these initiatives that are tying directly into the police forces. And that really is a whole nother industry outside of what we do, which is specifically just end of it, you know, small businesses, individual buildings and properties. But you’re right, all of these technologies, they need a common platform as well, the complexities of you know, I have, nobody wants a login for their DVR. So they can see the video a separate login for their security protocols, a separate login for their access control. So I think we’ll see a lot of that too. Maybe not, maybe not consolidating all of those but open platforms that you can put your you can put everything into one spot. So you have your access control. And and you you have access to your videos, you have access to your security. And there’s one portal that that serves all of them. I think we’ll see a lot of that.
Scott Johnson 21:33
Yeah, usually an app, click a button. It’s all right there. Yeah, I guess, depending on the complexity of
Damon Kirchmeier 21:38
the system. Yeah. Yeah. Make it make it easy for the user. Exactly. So I know, you jumped into the industry
Scott Johnson 21:45
pretty quickly, you probably didn’t plan on being your career, you know, CEO in this industry. But here’s the people you really respect that you’ve kind of learned a lot from over the years in this business.
Damon Kirchmeier 21:55
Yeah, you know, one that that comes to mind is Matt Fridley. And he’s, he’s the head of security for a chemical distribution company called Brenntag. And that might seem a little bit odd. But what he’s done, he’s he is in charge of a multi billion dollar company for this from a security standpoint, and they’re spread all across the United States. They’re actually and and Europe, they’re all there worldwide. And they have to meet so many different, so many different standards. And the big one that drives it in the US is chemical facility, anti terrorism standards, or C fats. And they have a very large book of regulations that they have to meet. But what I really appreciate about him is that he took those and said, Okay, I know what it says right here, what the real intent is, we have to keep an eye on this, this part of it. We’ve always interpreted that as we had to have manned guards standing there looking at it. And he kind of deconstructed the the standards and said, Okay, well, how can we meet the intent, and, and leverage technology. And it that sounds simple enough, and it’s easy for a small company to do, but to be able to do it in a really large company. It’s difficult to stick your neck out to try something different. And I just really appreciate that he’s, he’s gone out and sought different opportunities and different ways to achieve the same goal. And, and it’s really amazing to, to see the result they’ve reduced their operating expenses, they’ve they’ve reduced their crime they’ve they’ve met all their their goals are reporting as easier. So it’s kind of fun to see innovation and a really large company, because I know how hard that can be.
Scott Johnson 23:49
Yeah, I mean, meeting those standards is no joke. A lot of consultants that even then you’re like, I think we’re compliant. And yeah, I was fortunate to see a blast test once by a company called Dean steel down in San Antonio. And, you know, they measure the psi they could withstand and the metal doors just sort of people can’t see but sort of bow out even though they’re metal but the blast doesn’t get through. I mean, it’s just crazy. What products are capable of nowadays, that was smart guys like that, you know, specifying them? Yeah. Oh, yeah. So great. Well, thank you so much for being on here. We’ve been talking with Damon Kirchmeier of Blue Eye Defense. Damon, where can people find you you know, to learn more, you know, ask about any, you know, security concerns they may have or questions.
Damon Kirchmeier 24:34
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Website, we’re Blue Eye Defense. You can find us on all the traditional social media platforms. Got some some great bloopers on YouTube but Blue Eye Defense. So yeah, I’d love people to come and take a look and reach out. We’re, we’re always, always interested to hear the story. Right, and where’s your service area? Um, United States and Canada right now.
Scott Johnson 25:02
Alright, whoa. Oh, sorry. You
Damon Kirchmeier 25:04
can add something there. Oh, nope, that’s that that’s it. We’re staying in the the stain on the continent for now. But we’ll open up the the rest of the world and in the years to come.
Scott Johnson 25:16
All right, well, thank you so much to me.
Damon Kirchmeier 25:19
Hey, thank you.
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