The Hive Five Podcast
5 Key Takeaways from Steven Kastelic
1. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something.
2. Always be yourself, and be confident about it.
3. What seems like common sense to you, might not be the case for the people around you.
4. The earlier, the better (for anything).
5. Never give up.
Today on the Hive Five Podcast, we are excited to sit down with Steven Kastelic, a co-founder of BlyncSync and fellow participant in the Thunder Launchpad startup accelerator. Steven studied entrepreneurship at the University of Oklahoma, and co-founded BlyncSync with fellow students Austin Green and Khanh Nguyen after graduating. BlyncSync is working to prevent accidents in the trucking industry, through the use of smart wearable devices.
Steven met Austin and Khanh in college while they were all pursuing entrepreneurship degrees. As college students, they went on lots of road trips to visit family, so their eyes were opened to the problem of falling asleep behind the wheel. After talking with truckers and fleet managers, they learned that this was a serious problem, that the transportation industry deals with every single day. Surprising to them, most technology currently available is reactionary, but not preventative.
With BlyncSync, they are working to prevent traffic accidents, instead of reacting to them. Steven says that 1 out of 3 truck drivers admit to having almost fallen asleep behind the wheel. The leading cause is fatigue, and even though they are professional drivers, keeping track of their energy level is a challenge. BlyncSync has partnered with suppliers of smart wearable devices and created a software that can track drivers’ energy levels in real time. It can indicate things like when the driver needs to take a break and when they are most likely to fall asleep. It’s revolutionizing the trucking industry and will continue to make roads safer and keep truck drivers safe.
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There are about 500,000 semi-truck crashes every year and if you interview any drivers, about one-third of them will admit that they did almost fall asleep while driving in the past month and the leading cause of these accidents in the trucking industry is fatigue.
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Hey guys, thanks for listening today. My name is Keagan with BriteBee. This is Katherine with BriteBee. Welcome back to the Hive Five Podcast, and today on the Hive Five Podcast, we’re happy to sit down with Steven Kastelic, one of the co-founders of a tech startup called BlyncSync and we met Steven through our mutual participation in the Thunder Launchpad accelerator program, which was amazing and appreciate you for being on today, Steven. Thanks for having me. Glad to be here. Hey, so tell us a little bit about your background and what you do for BlyncSync.
So my background is in tech and music. I went to the University of Oklahoma. I got my degree in business focused on entrepreneurship and that’s what I ended up doing after college started a company. We, through our research at the university, we learned that there is a strong need to prevent accidents, especially in the transportation industry. We just approached it from the problem of falling asleep while driving. I’m sure everyone can identify that to that to an extent. We took a lot of road trips as college students, you know, visiting our family is. And it was very apparent that falling asleep while driving was a major problem. We just kept interviewing truckers and fleet managers, people in other industries. We learned that the trucking industry has this problem every day and the technology out there right now that they’re using is not very preventative. It’s sort of reactionary, so we found a niche and a whole that we can fill to better prevent accidents with something that’s way more preventative and I can tell you a little bit more about that.
So Steven, since y’all are the ones you know in the forefront of this doing all the research, you have to know some of the statistics of actually like how much falling asleep at the wheel causes a problem. Can you give our listeners any insight into how big this problem actually is?
Oh yes. There is about 500,000 semi-truck crashes every year and if you interview any drivers about one third of them will admit that they did almost fall asleep while driving in the past month and the leading cause of these accidents in the trucking industry is fatigue. I mean some people might say a distraction, but a lot of the problems that distractions bring is because that person wasn’t well rested. Distraction stems from fatigue. Those are the type of assistance you can expect to see out there
and these are professional drivers, so I know distractions can always occur, but these guys are doing this for a living, so they’re definitely probably more focused than what we are as when we’re driving. Right?
That’s right. They’re very respectable when it comes to their skills. They’ve been trained and they are professionals. They’re probably much better driver than the average driver. So I would say I would take that into consideration if you’re ever driving next to one, you know, they’re just being safe and cautious. They really want the rest of the motoring public, just a past them, you know, get out of their way. Don’t cut them off in front of them because it takes a long time for that giant truck to stop.
Yeah. I think that’s really unique that you said that they’re respectable because I will say this, I never have bad thoughts about semi drivers or truck drivers in general. I think what we usually say is we just don’t want to be near them because they’re so big. Like we’ve, we feel somewhat scared to be around them, but at the same time, I don’t think I ever, I think that they’re going to do something towards me, if that makes sense. But they are intimidating because they’re just so huge. Right. So I think that’s, I think that’s a really good point. You know, they, they definitely, they know how to drive and there are professional. Um, they, they know what they’re doing.
Exactly. You hear stories from time to time, like, oh, that trucker ran me off or that truck, it looked like he was about to fall asleep. Even though they are professionals, they still drive long hours every day, 15 hours a day is the new rule for working. Even though they’re professionals, they’re just constantly exposed to the road. And keeping track of your energy level is a challenge, especially if the ones that have to drive long distances. So yeah, even though they’re professionals, they’re still much more prone to falling asleep than you and I just because they’re, they drive more.
So, Steven, we mentioned briefly that you were a co-founder of BlyncSync. Think, can you tell us a little bit about the other co-founder and how you got connected?
Then the other co-founder is Austin, green and con. When, uh, I met Austin Green at the University of Oklahoma in my entrepreneurship class. Him and I were along with the rest of the group at the time were the ones who conceived this idea, but it started out as just a classroom project and I’m the other co-founder is friends with Austin and we just connected with him once we graduated and decided to take the concept and the company outside the classroom.
The glass project that never ended.
That is right. We did some major pivoting after the classroom, but that’s what they had us do. You know, you’re an entrepreneurship major. The professors literally make you sit down and come up with original business ideas and make a business plan for them. And this is the one that seemed to be the most viable and scalable.
That’s so cool. I didn’t even know that entrepreneurship was offered as a, as a major at some places, like as a degree plan. That’s awesome.
You’re not going to be able to find it in many places. I think it’s only been around for less than a decade now.
So, tell us a little bit about how BlyncSync is truly solved. Yeah.
Sync is a software that drivers can use even before the dry begins. You just look at your phone and it shows you your body’s energy level. For example, 80 percent out of 100. This gives the driver an idea of when he can expect to feel fatigued, but it’s all accomplished through smart wearable devices. BlyncSync just makes the software, but there’s these smart wearables out there and we partnered with some of some heart device suppliers. There’s a company out of Japan that makes smart glasses that track blink rate and head tilt, and there’s watches such as Samsung and Fitbit that track sleep stages and heart rate. Our software just lands the data patterns from those devices. The more the driver, where’s the devices, the more accurate the BlyncSync readings will be. That BlyncSync uses machine learning. Artificial intelligence improves over time to predict exactly when a driver can expect to feel fatigued. This will help him plan drives ahead of time, he’ll know when to take your break, when is he best fit to drive, things like that.
So how long do you say that it takes before the system actually is accurate enough to help the driver stay awake or to understand when he’s fatigued, it needs to
Khan. He’s our chief artificial intelligence officer and he says it only takes a couple of.
Wow. Okay. So not long at all.
Yeah, that’s a, that’s a pretty quick process to start learning people’s patterns. I mean head tilt, I’m sitting near tilting my head like as we talk and I don’t think I’m tired, but you know, I was, I was trying to practice self-awareness as you were talking about that. So Steven, we want to make sure and talk about your five key takeaways earlier in the podcast. That way we can really elaborate on those for our listeners and answer any questions that they may be asking themselves. So go ahead and tell us your first key takeaway.
My key takeaway is don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something.
So someone has said that to you or someone has told you that they, that you can’t do something, I’m assuming. Well, just looking at
back at childhood, you know, you’re given all these options on what do you want to be when you grow up and some people will just shoot your ideas down. You put yourself out there, you’re creative and maybe they don’t agree with you and so you get discouraged. Um, I can’t think of something specific that I was told that I couldn’t do, but people have dreams and when they share their dreams, others might be reluctant to support it. And I was just saying that you really can do whatever you want so you just put your mind to it. You know, you commit, you can accomplish things. And even if people don’t believe you or they don’t understand, there’s always a way.
Are there certain barriers that you have experienced in these last months or any last years of developing and establishing BlyncSync a that you’ve overcome maybe that, that you, you remember were barriers that you’ve now overcome that you didn’t think you were going to be able to cross?
Those are the things you research early on is what are the barriers and you just strategize against that. There’s always going to be barriers, you know, but I, I don’t think there’s really, if you think about it, there’s really no barrier that can’t be overcome. You just have to plan ahead, know what’s coming that you can only expect so much. You cannot predict everything, but it just being prepared well in advance. We’ll help you.
Steven, I’m sure that y’all had some naysayers along your way. Maybe people who just don’t understand it or don’t understand the need for it or maybe just they can’t, they can’t even imagine how it could be done. So how do you handle those people, especially if they’re people who are close to you? Do you ever have that?
Uh, um, now I
can get a little specific with our industry. If you go up to a trucking company owner and tell them that you want their drivers to wear smart glasses and smart watches, the first thing that comes to their mind is, hell no. What are you talking about? Smart glasses. What’s that? You know? So, um, the, our, our mindset is pretty advanced. You might only see something like this Sci-Fi movie, some, I guess the trucking industry tends to be a little older and traditional. So when you bring something up to them like this, it’s kind of like out of the box and then not really out of the box thinkers. So there’s some education involved. So that’s one barrier. And chokers feel the same way. Oh, you’re spying on my blink rates, get away from me. Now this is really about saving lives, getting home to your family safe.
We all know that it’s hard to manage your fatigue. This is a tool for you to make decisions on your own. Why not telling you what to do? This is a tool to help prevent accidents. And with prevented accidents, you’re going to make more money. I mean the average accident minimum will cost a trucking company about $150,000 and that might happen depending on how big the fleet is, might happen several times a year. So do you want to save $150,000 or not? It really comes down to that and that was really, they really can’t argue it from there.
I was just about to say you would think that when you approach people they would be a lot more, um, I guess interested or intrigued at least by it, you know, from a risk management perspective because that, you know, risk management and workers comp and all that, you know, if something were to happen can just be so crazy expensive. So I actually am surprised to hear that you’re nice. EHRS are more often than others.
That’s just some of them. A lot of them really are open to the idea. I wouldn’t say majority are naysayers, but they are definitely out there.
Absolutely. So your second key takeaway was always be yourself and be confident about it. How would you describe yourself
says outgoing, friendly, smart, passionate, skilled, competent.
So, what would you say your why is, you know, everyone, everyone says you need to know your why when doing what you’re doing with business and specifically with maybe BlyncSync. what is your one
question that I think everyone needs to stay aware of when going through especially adventure, whether you’re on your own or with a team. Sometimes people get lost in all of the things that they have to do. Maybe they’re about to make a sales call and they’re nervous. Really it comes down to that question you just asked is why just keep the purpose in mind if you ever feel lost, just think back to that purpose and that’ll get you back on track. So our purpose is just to prevent accidents
and that is a, that is a purpose that will continue on for a long time. So we know that’s not going to stop anytime soon. Right?
So I have a question for you. When in doubt, how do you personally make sure to be confident? Because I’m sure there are some times that you hit some roadblocks and you know, we all experienced discouragement as an entrepreneur, so I want to know how you, you know, continue to keep that positive.
Just follow through on your ideas. If you have an idea, don’t have assets because then it won’t look good if you’re gonna, do something you have to present yourself as if you’ve done this a hundred times, that will get you farther than you think. I’m thinking about. This is a terrible example, but think about if you were going to a movie theater and you just walked in without paying, but you acted as if you own the place, for example, maybe nobody will stop you. They think, oh, he actually works here. Just let them go. That’s a terrible example, but it’s that sort of mindset that people take you seriously. If you at least look like you know what you’re doing.
I’m testing that out today, but the theater and I’m testing it out, I’m going to own the place.
Truly, there is a lot to be said for that.
Oh, I, I think so. I think that there’s a lot of times that we have to be confident in, in times where maybe we’re in, we’re not as confident though. Um, I think so. I think you can be confident though and still not deceive people, you know, if there’s things that you do, you truly don’t know, I don’t think you have to deceive him right there. You can just be really confident in the things that you do know it may be
and they really limits piece of information it or not. I mean the things that you’ll succeed at or the things that you’ll enjoy.
Definitely. Absolutely. What is your, what is your name?
Takeaway. Takeaway is what seems like common sense to you might not be common sense for the people around you.
A man, brother. That’s all I got. Say to that one.
So what, what’s your experience with this? Do you have personal of things that maybe seem like common sense?
Oh No. What else? Got Tulsa and I went to a pretty big high school union public schools. It’s one of the biggest ones in Tulsa. So, um, I don’t know what it’s like going to a private school, whether there’s small classrooms, I hear that everyone knows each other’s business, but I remember in elementary school there’s things that everyone sort of knew and I always, I was actually bullied in elementary school. People would call me captain obvious and stuff like that and uh, but it’s not the case at all. In college it was a huge shift going from high school to college because in college you get people from all over the world. I lived next to foreign exchange students. So there’s different cultures that they may not have heard of. I grew up in the church and so talking about Jesus back home is just kind of like, Duh, everyone knows that. But if you talk about it in college, it’s like, oh, I didn’t know that. And you’d be, you would just be surprised as you get out in the world and meet more people. You think that certain things are just common sense and they just, I don’t know how to explain it.
Yeah. So, I like to call this a practicing self-awareness, right? So that you’re, you understand your surroundings and what you’re doing and how it’s affecting other people. How would you say this plays into Your Business and in your team?
I think it’s very important because people are coming up with ideas all the time and being in front of people is a lot better than texting because there’s more communication going on body language, but with all these ideas coming out, you may say one thing and you mean it as something, but to the other person it can mean something totally different, but just working together and getting on the same page. Just because you say something you think is obvious, it’s probably not the case because there’s so many ideas coming out there that even if your idea is not even, even if you’re just brainstorming, somebody else could pick up. They might like your idea and take it and build on that. It’s just a collaborative efforts.
So, so your next key takeaway, the earlier, the better for anything. Tell us your inspiration behind that. I mean, I think we all know that the earlier the better is a good mantra, but you know, millennials also, I feel like tend to be procrastinators. I’m holding my hand up.
My, my first inspiration from that was when I started my savings account as a young kid. I learned that the earlier that you start, the more that interest accrues and the more money you’ll make just off your savings account. And then in school I learned the value of a dollar is better today than it is tomorrow. You can look at that from an economic standpoint, you know, with inflation, getting the money now, it definitely is better than tomorrow. So, um, if you take that same concept and apply it to anything, like if you have goals, it’s always gonna take longer than you think it’s going to take. It will probably cost more money than you think it’s going to cost. So just starting as early as you can, especially for another example is let’s say you want to be a professional musician and you think, oh, I can learn how to play piano or later in life it’ll be fine. Well really if you want to be at the professional level, starting your skills earlier is better because then you have all of that time to get better, hone your craft. Then that way, by the time you already to go pro, you have got the skills necessary.
So would you give the same advice to somebody maybe who’s on the brink of entrepreneurship? You know, if they’re thinking like, I think I’ve got the leadership skills that it would take to be an entrepreneur or even to start a business. I mean, do you think that the earlier the better still up?
Wow, definitely. That’s one of the first things. The entrepreneurship college is fail early and fail often and the reason is because you will learn from your mistakes. It’s there’s a huge fear of failure out there, but I think the world needs to embrace failure much more often. That might not feel good when you fail, but you’re one step ahead of the other person who didn’t try. You know that much more than they do.
Yeah, and we talk all the time about, you know, failure. I mean, although it has a negative connotation, really can be a good thing because if you don’t fail, you could be spending all of your time and effort on something that’s never gonna work out, so if you fail fast, you can at least eliminate fast and move on to the next idea,
and I think this gives us the next takeaway of never give up and this is a common principle, but so true and impactful for what motivates you to keep going, to keep going just on a daily.
Jesus is God. He is what fuels me in the morning. The first thing I do is read the Bible and it just gives me. That’s my source of inspiration. Anyway, I know everyone’s got a different source of it really just comes down to your goals and how important they are to you. What am I going to accomplish today? The mind is very powerful. I mean, if you wake up in the when you think today’s just going to suck, then the day probably will suck, but if you wake up and be like, I’m going to own today, it’s going to be awesome. Then you’re going to have a great day. So, what do you, what do you read scripture wise, I mean, is there a certain passage that you read that truly fueling what version? Y O U v, e r s I o n one word, and there’s a verse of the day that comes on there every day and it’s usually pretty inspirational. Proverbs is great for inspiration psalms. There’s a lot of good stuff in there.
That’s great. That’s awesome. So Steven, as somebody who’s you know, religious and, and you’re on this journey, do you feel as though this is where God has placed you and that these talents that you’re using are glorifying him for any entrepreneurs who are out there listening? You know, we, we actually attended a seminar called work is worship and it was talking about how work and worship go hand in hand and when you’re at work, that can be your worship. And so what are your thoughts?
So all of that workplace is a good opportunity to fulfill what God’s purpose is for you. I’m really between you and God. It’s a relationship. So prayer, just having him with you all the time, ask for guidance, ask for wisdom, and in the end, yes it is his will. The skills that you have were given to you by God, and so I’m lately, I’ve been asking God a lot on how can I show his presence through my work and my skills and that’s just something I’m still praying about, is ways that I can show God through my actions, through my accomplishments. I think that’s something that everyone needs to stay aware of and work towards it. I still haven’t nailed that down. Exactly. Yeah, it’s A. It’s a struggle every day.
Always. So great takeaways. Here’s all five takeaways. One more time. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Always be confident. Oh, sorry. Always be yourself and be confident about it. What seems like common sense to you might not be the case for the people around you. The earlier the better and that applies to everything and never give up. All great takeaways. Steven. I’m so glad that you got to share these with us
today. Steven, what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you if they have questions about what you guys are doing? The best way?
Yeah, with blank saying so you can either message us on our website, BlyncSync.com. If you just want to reach out to me personally, I, you can find me on LinkedIn. Steven with a v.
awesome. Well we really appreciate you being on today and we want to make sure that everyone remembers to subscribe to the podcast and also gives us a view on what you thought about Steven and BlyncSync and don’t forget, if you are looking for insurance quotes that don’t sting, try BriteBee.com. Click get a quote and you’ll find insurance quotes that truly don’t sting a, you’ll be free of spam and phone calls, uh, forever. So we really appreciate everyone listening today and hope everyone has a wonderful and productive day. Thanks.
Check out BlyncSync: https://www.blyncsync.com/
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Connect with Steven on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steven-kastelic-88777aa2/