The Story Of Ayyeka
The inspiration for Ayyeka began about seven years ago when two friends, Ariel Stern and Yair Poleg, decided to spend their free time in a dusty old garage developing a new technology. The two engineers sat huddled next to space heaters trying to invent a revolutionary product. The result was the founding of Ayyeka.
Both Ariel and Yair grew up living and breathing technology but took slightly different paths during their army service.
One passion for technoloogy; two difference paths
Yair began programming as a teenager and post high school was drafted into the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to work within the elite 8200 signals intelligence unit. For him, serving in 8200 as part of the cybersecurity team was a dream come true. There, he had access to some of the most advanced military-grade technologies available anywhere.
After completing a B.A. in Computer Science, Yair went on to study at Hebrew University to complete a Ph.D. in computer vision, the technology used to develop self-driving cars. As Ayyeka’s CTO, he now invests a lot of time and energy working with customers on systems integration, securing the company’s IP portfolio, and finding new ways to develop the most cutting edge cyber-security features.
Ariel decided to pursue his B.A. in electrical engineering at the Technion, through the Israeli Airforce’s Academic Reserve program, ultimately attaining the rank of captain. The air force was a perfect place to learn more about electrical engineering. He worked with aircraft such as the F16, where he even built a new aircraft subcomponent using scraps of equipment, saving the unit both time and money.
During his time in the air force, Ariel also served as a project manager for a classified Ministry of Defense project. Throughout their army service, Ariel and Yair continued to cross paths and planned to partner and launch their own company. As Ayyeka’s CEO, Ariel travels frequently, working directly with customers and generating new business opportunities. “Ayyeka started as a garage project and eventually became a reality,” he says.
It all started with a bicycle robbery
What was the inspiration for the name Ayyeka? Yair told Ariel that his bike was stolen from the Tel Aviv train station. The two engineers decided someone needed to create a GPS tracking device that could be installed inside the bike, hidden from potential thieves. After many hours of testing and re-testing, their new device was finally complete. The time came to present the bike tracker at an important meeting, which also meant ordering business cards.
A company name meant business. The two friends came up with the name Ayyeka. Translated from Hebrew, ‘Ayyeka’ literally means, ‘Where are you?’.’ The phrase comes from the famous biblical story in which Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit and hide from God. God called out to them, saying, “Where are you?”. Biblical commentators go a step further, explaining that the term] Ayyeka does not only mean where is your location, but also why aren’t you here? This biblical reference perfectly described their new bike tracking device.
The pivot to remote monitoring
After the 2008 market crash, the two co-founders quickly realized that the bicycle device would not lead to a promising business opportunity and began seeking another use for the technology. Ariel’s family friend, a water engineer, asked if the device could also collect data from local water infrastructure. They connected a sensor to the device to measure flow data, and sold the first five devices to an Israeli water utility.
“Some of my friends started companies way before we started thinking about Ayyeka. But, while we were working in the garage, the perfect storm developed,” Yair says. The Internet of Things (IoT) market had already started creating a buzz and the Wavelet water monitoring device was the perfect IoT solution for the water industry.
The water industry is generally conservative and only somewhat connected – utilities cannot monitor vital quality and quantity information in real-time. Industry leaders know that data is needed to better manage infrastructure and are looking for innovative solutions to connect aging infrastructure to control centers.
On the other hand, “Humans are fully connected,” as Ariel notes. “We use Fitbits and Apple watches to monitor our every move, which is exciting but not essential. It proves that the technology exists and can also be used to create an industrial transformation.” Industrial networks need to establish connectivity and at the same time address the challenges of aging infrastructure and a growing population. Connected autonomous devices, like the Wavelet, bridge the industrial data gap. Ayyeka is helping to transform the conservative water industry through the creation of plug-and-play cost-effective smart networks.
Even though Ayyeka is now established as a leader in remote water monitoring, these two engineers know that the technology can become even smarter. Ariel and Yair want to enter new market segments, test new smart city applications, and transform our understanding of public infrastructure investments. “Who knows where we will be in five years,” Ariel says. Watch this space to find out.