Simon Vogt is the President of Sales at P2i, with over 20 years telecommunications experience. Having lived and worked in the UK, Dubai and the US, Simon has a multinational background, joining P2i in 2017 and has expanded his role in P2i to take on responsibility for all Sales, Business Development and Pricing activity across the company.
Please tell us a little bit about how you came to work in the nano coating industry, and with P2i specifically?
SV: Well, I had spent about the previous twenty years working for mainly Motorola, but Nokia Siemens as well. So, big companies in the mobile network space. Ultimately, I was after a new challenge where one can actually make a difference in what is happening within that particular company. So, P2i is a relatively small company, and I joined in a position where I could make a difference. P2i have a great story in terms of where it can get to going forward. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to directly influence and help P2i transform itself from a small beginning through to the ultimate story that we have in terms of where we want to take the company over the next two or three years.
So, for those who don’t know P2i, how would you describe the offering, and how is it unique compared to other operators in the space?
SV: So, we have a very thin lightweight coating. We are able to offer liquid protection across an entire company’s portfolio, from IPX2 from our Splash-proof technology; a Barrier™ coating that can offer IPX4 and now having launched Dunkable® at Mobile World Congress earlier this year we have protection that can go to IPX8 and beyond. When we’re talking to customers, we have something that can cover their entire portfolio and not just used on a handful of products, we are there to support everything that they do.
If you could tell us a little bit about other applications for your technology? I think P2i is well-known in the smartphones space, what about other sectors?
SV: We have a 57% market share in the hearing aid industry. We are quite prevalent on a number of headphones in the market. Moving forward, however, with the new P2i Barrier technology, we are targeting the drone’s sector, using the thinness and the lightness of the coating so it doesn’t affect the sensors within the drone. Almost any outdoor sensors would absolutely benefit from a P2i Barrier coating. The Automotive sector is also an area that we are actively looking at currently. As cars become more intelligent with both electric models and all the sensors they use around the car to detect impact; it is the electronics within the car that need protection from liquid damage. So, this and all the technology being used to take the automotive industry forward creates a huge opportunity for us to move into that area.
Also, gaming consoles, are creating more opportunities where people can interact with their devices outdoors. There is the new Harry Potter game where people are encouraged to go and explore outside of the home. So, where the gaming console or the handheld element of the game is being used in this external environment that is open to rain, water, and environmental pollutants, it opens up a perfect opportunity for us to look into that space. In addition, things particularly like e-readers as well, where people can use them whilst on holiday typically around the swimming pool and/or beach. Here too, we’ve got a great opportunity in that space as well.
How does P2i remain ahead of the curve in terms of technology?
SV: We have a highly educated and motivated R&D and engineering team, who are constantly evolving the product based upon customer specifications and requirements. We pride ourselves on the flexible response we provide when working with customers, and particularly our ability to change processes to allow us to protect their devices in the best possible way. We too are constantly improving our own processes and making them quicker, more efficient, and cleaner.
We work hand-in-hand with our customers using a collaborative approach through our dedicated engineering and support teams, by working very closely with them. In terms of the regulatory environment, we are fully aware of the forthcoming regulations from a chemical perspective and have been working to ensure that all of our processes and chemicals meet the required industry standards and are completely in line these planned regulatory changes.
A key thrust of P2i is prolonging the lifespan of devices. In which areas do you see this as being specifically beneficial?
SV: If we take smartphones as an example, reliability of the device to the manufacturer is becoming higher up on the agenda and has become a key differentiator in their product offering particularly in markets such as India. When applying a P2i coating this can and will reduce the failure rate, and any failures due to water or a humid environment. For the smartphone manufacturers not only does the coating, (a) prolong the lifecycle of the device, but, (b) reduce the failure rate, and the returns rate. Now for them, that provides a great return on investment for the extra cost of our coating versus the cost of the logistics of the returns and repairs on their devices. So, for them, a very significant return on investment which is really positive.
P2i is obviously a global business, and in addition to many other markets, you operate in the two biggest in the world; China and India in terms of populations. Obviously, the growth potential there is enormous. Could you share any insights into the opportunities presented by these markets and any inherent challenges?
SV: Yes. China is quite a mature business for P2i. We have a large office in Shenzhen with essentially staff there for all functions. In particular, we have a large support team based out of China operating in the factories of our customers and have process development teams in China already on the ground at our P2i office. This enables us to quickly respond and resolve any issues that appear in the field.
We have a supply chain our finance team set up in China, which means we already have a mature network that we have been working with for at least the last eight years or so. More recently, the move into India happened relatively quickly for us, and we have extended our operations with three of our main customers currently in India. The growth we have seen in India has happened rapidly, so we are currently expanding our support team in India quite significantly to meet this demand.
There are, of course, the logistics of the geography of the country, and the distances between various sites, but with our expansion in India, we are addressing that. We have now set up our chemical supply within India to cover this territory at sites on the ground which is expansive. The threat of humidity within the region and the damage it causes to phones is a real problem, hence why we are now seeing this rise in smartphone sales.
There is a huge market in India with manufacturers looking to see how they can differentiate their product offering, and P2i is providing a perfect opportunity for them to do that. We are positioned strategically together with our infrastructure to support the forthcoming growth in India. This contrasts with China where we are more established and mature with our support offering fully in place.
You’re a British born company based in Oxfordshire. Are you concerned about the impact that Brexit might have on the P2i business?
SV: Of course, we are all still unsure as to how the Brexit situation will play out but politically there are a number of interesting challenges going on in the world currently. The US-China Trade war is having a very big effect at the moment as we are seeing many manufacturers shifting their production out of China and into South-East Asian countries, the trade row between Japan and South Korea will also have an impact for smartphone manufacturing. However, from a supply chain perspective, we are prepared for Brexit. Despite being a British company most of our business currently is overseas and outside of the EU, our chemicals are again sourced from and shipped to various global locations. The business impact should be minimal.