Matthew Bailey – Co-founder of Thalmic Labs

Matthew Bailey is one of the three co-founders of Thalmic Labs. Matthew’s studies in pattern recognition have driven the development of the underlying machine learning magic behind Thalmic Labs’ products. He has a degree in Mechatronics Engineering from the University of Waterloo and has studied as a visiting scholar at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich). When he’s not building a 3D model of a new prototype, Matthew enjoys staying active by running, cycling, and even dragon boating. Along with the other co-founders of Thalmic Labs, Matthew is dedicated to building the future of wearable technology and the next level of human-computer interaction.

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What are you working on right now?

That’s a tough question to sum up in one sentence. I’m working on everything from product design and production to logistics and distribution. We’re also moving into a large new office space next month and I’m overseeing the interior planning of that space. We can’t wait to move in!

Where did the idea for Thalmic Labs/Myo come from?

Thalmic Labs was established after two classmates (Stephen Lake and Aaron Grant) and I came up with the idea behind Myo. We all believe that we are moving towards a new era of computers, where the lines between man and machine are becoming more blurred. Building on work in the area of wearable technology that Stephen and I had done previously, the idea for Myo was born out of a fundamental question: How do we connect the real and the digital worlds as we move towards wearable and ubiquitous computing?

How do you make money?

To start, our biggest source of revenue will be consumer sales of Myo.

What does your typical day look like?

At this point, there’s no real “typical day.” I’m currently traveling a lot for manufacturing and logistical reasons, and am making sure that things are moving in the right direction from a machine learning perspective.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Something that we’ve been very fortunate for at Thalmic is that we’ve been able to recruit amazing people to join our team, which allows us to bring the product to life.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

We’re excited about the future of technology. We’re specifically excited about the idea of improving or enhancing our lives through effortless interaction. For us, Myo is a first step in a long path toward this direction.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Being a QA tester at an aircraft frame machine shop was the worst job I ever had. I learned a lot about geometric tolerancing and manufacturing to a very high level of precision, but it made me realize that I always want to be the one designing the parts and not the one following someone else’s design.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

We don’t place a lot of value on looking back and thinking “what if we had done x instead of y.” Instead we try and focus on looking forward: with the situation today, and what we know today, what choices do we have from here? Obviously, our learning from the past factors into the “what do we know today” part of that equation.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Go out and tackle a challenge that you’re especially passionate about.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest failure is a challenge that I’m constantly trying to overcome: learning how to delegate tasks to allow my company to scale. As a co-founder of a fast growing company, it’s crucial that I put trust in the talent that we’ve hired to focus my time on things that really require my attention.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Take Elon Musk’s idea for the hyperloop and implement it here between Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, and Hamilton. Time is money.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I would eliminate paper receipts, credit and debit cards, paper identification, etcetera, and implement some sort of universal account system accessed through fingerprint and facial/retina scan. To me, these are burdens on our society and I’m surprised that no better solution has been implemented yet.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I was asked to teach a course on PLC programming to college students when I was in grade seven!

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

– Gmail: The indispensable and perfectly executed email client.
– Pulse: An amazing news aggregator app that effectively crams a tonne of information into an easy to use interface.
– IFTT: A very powerful app that allows you to create “if-then” statements that can automate things based on triggers from various web applications. For example, you could create a statement that says “If the temperature of Kitchener is below 10 degrees then turn on the heat on my Nest thermostat” or “If I receive a photo on Gmail then upload it to Facebook.”

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

It’s a little obvious, but every entrepreneur should read the Steve Jobs biography. While it may not be the best idea to emulate all of his qualities, it gives the reader insight into how he ran his company and how this catapulted Apple to where it is today.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

@elonmusk: Brilliant leader in the tech space.
@paulg: Founder of Y Combinator with a tone of experience.
@alexisohanian: Great mix of humor and advice.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

The internet is full of laughs. This social awkward penguin was responsible for my most recent outburst:

Who is your hero, and why?

Elon Musk. He is a brilliant mind with the guts to solve the world’s toughest challenges. Everything he says and does is extremely well thought out and accurate. If my company could achieve half of what his have, well… we’d be doing alright.

How do you hire the best people?

Show a genuine passion and an enthusiasm to them when you are explaining your product. If you are good at communicating this, it will rub off on them and they will get excited about building your product as well.

How do you stay healthy while running a startup?

Work with people who like to stay fit as well. Doing sports or working on fitness goals as a group is always more motivating than doing it alone. The other two cofounders and I do triathlons together and we also used to do CrossFit classes. Although it’s easy to do – you should never let your health suffer when working on your company.


Twitter: @thalmic