Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – May 29, 2023
CEOCFO: CEOCFO: Mr. Khinouche, what is the idea behind Novolyze?
Mr. Khinouche: Put simply and concisely, the idea behind Novolyze is Smart Food Safety and Quality. Novolyze offers application-
CEOCFO: Would you give us a couple of examples of what has been traditional, and what you are able to do today?
Mr. Khinouche: Most of the food safety preventative measures were based on taking food samples and analyzing the samples to find potential pathogens such as Salmonella and Listeria. With all the cloud technology today, and all the IOT that is available, we can evaluate without testing the product, or the risk that the product contains the pathogen and prevent that risk from happening before the product goes to the consumer.
CEOCFO: How do you do that? What is physically happening?
Mr. Khinouche: We offer a variety of software and IoT devices that are connected to our customer’s food equipment. For example, one of our process control tools can be connected to the machinery in the food processing plant. The tool is continually gathering data from the machine – time, temperature, pressure, and speed – then sending the data securely out to our servers on the cloud for processing. It analyzes the data, and since we know at what temperature particular bacteria die and in what way, we are able to simulate, to mimic, what is happening in terms of how much this pathogen and bacteria is killed, and how safe the food is. What is critically important to our customer’s food safety is that we can do that in real time.
We go back, in real time, to the manufacturer, to the operator on the line, and tell him whenever his product has reached the target safety, or if it needs to be processed a little bit more. The benefit there is that, instead of over processing, or taking the risk to under process and to still have some risk and some pathogen and some bacteria, we can convey precisely the right amount of processing. We can tell the operator exactly when he reaches the right food safety, so that the food is both safe and the equipment is also very efficiently used and saving a lot of waste and a lot of energy.
CEOCFO: Then, many of the recalls that one hears about very often, would not happen. You are getting it much earlier before it is out there to harm anyone!
Mr. Khinouche: There is about one recall every day in the states, and in Europe as well. For most of the recalls we offer the possibility to track the data in real-
CEOCFO: Is the industry ready for this? Do they want it? Do they believe it?
Mr. Khinouche: That is an excellent question. The food industry is rather conservative when it comes to new technology. The main reason is the equipment that has been used there has been used for a very long time. It is also a low margin business. That means that you cannot afford to make too many mistakes when you choose a new technology. Therefore, they are very conservative in the way that they are adopting any new technology. However, once they do adopt a new technology, they are also very faithful to it. That is why we work closely with our customers to not only prove it works, but also delivers measurable benefits.
The last time I talked to a COO of a large group, she mentioned that she does not take any new technology, until it has been on the market for at least 10 years, until she is sure it is going to work; so, it is a very long-
CEOCFO: How do you reach the people that are making decisions in this arena?
Mr. Khinouche: Fortunately, the experience we’ve built up in the industry over the past ten years has not only helped up to deeply understand the needs of customers in this industry but also how to develop a market strategy engaging prospective customers both bottoms-
From a top-
CEOCFO: What has changed in your approach over time, from concept to today? What have you figured out as more and more people are using your technology?
Mr. Khinouche: That is a good question. What has really accelerated development and production of the technology has been two main events. The first was the COVID pandemic. By having to manage workers remotely, food and beverage companies quickly understood the inefficiencies in their current processes and that properly developed digital technologies could provide the efficiencies this new reality required.
The other foundational event which appeared a few years earlier was the huge acceleration of cloud technologies and microservices. Platforms like Azure or AWS have completely changed the way companies such as us develop software and how customers deploy and utilize software. We can develop our solutions in a much faster and more reliable way. Taken together, expansion of the cloud and microservices along with COVID fueled the acceleration.
CEOCFO: Are there new pathogens that come into play, or do you have to know what you are looking for beforehand? Are there new pathogens that develop over time, or is what you are looking at pretty much tried and true?
Mr. Khinouche: That is a good and very loaded question. There are thousands of different pathogens that are out there, pathogens for different human beings, and some of them mutate very quickly. For instance, salmonella is a very smart microorganism, from an evolutionary perspective. Therefore, it is changing very regularly.
There are many pathogens that are evolving, and there are also many that we did not think would be a problem in the food industry because we had not seen them before. For example, there are bacteria that we found over the last 2 years, not only bacteria, because pathogens can be bacteria, it can be fungus, it can be parasites, but there are some of them that we did not expect to be an issue, and in some cases, it was just because we did not look, and we did not find them.
Pathogens can be more than just bacteria; they can also be fungus or parasites. For example, some pathogens have emerged over the past several years that we did not expect to be an issue, and in other cases, it was because we did not look for or find them. In some cases, pathogens emerge in the way that food is grown or processed because new methods or equipment is used to gain efficiency creating issues that previously did not exist.
CEOCFO: What is involved in the implementation of Novolyze solutions?
Mr. Khinouche: Novolyze offers a variety of solutions for smart food safety and quality. Each of these are cloud-
Typically, the executive leadership of our customers is intimately involved in the process. They have a corporate digitization initiative in mind and are champions of our solutions. There is a huge lack of workers and select qualified workers, and digitization is another way to help the company to be more efficient giving smarter tasks to the users. Therefore, it is very much about leadership and change management.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about being a B certified Corp and why that is important for you?
Mr. Khinouche: The certification itself is a great recognition, and to join a group of companies who want to grow their business for good. It is a very rewarding certification as we can show, mostly to our employees, that we are doing business for a good purpose, and that helps us to attract and retain the best employees in the team.
It also helps us to be ahead of the curve when it comes to measuring how we are giving back, because what we realized is that being able to measure our impact and reducing the carbon footprint or the water consumption are mainly skills that are going to be needed to create value in the business in the long run. Therefore, by developing the methodology to measure our positive impact, we are literally creating value for the company, and also for all of the stakeholders.
CEOCFO: What is your geographic reach today?
Mr. Khinouche: About half of our clients are in North America and half in Europe. However, since many of our clients are enterprise accounts, we also serve facilities all over the world. For example, the headquarters of a particular customer can be in North America or Europe, but the factory can be in the US as well as in France or Guyana, or Indonesia, or anywhere. Our largest customers literally cover the globe.
CEOCFO: Do you find much difference in the reception you get in different areas of the world?
Mr. Khinouche: That is a very good question. We found that the way technology is perceived does not depend much on the country, at least when we compare North America and Europe. However, it does depend very much on the company culture, and how they are innovative and whether they consider themselves early adopters of technology. Do they want to be ahead of the curve, and they want to try new technologies in order to give them a competitive edge, or do they just want to be behind, letting the other ones test these new technologies and just following up later on.
It is much more about the company culture, and corporate strategy. Are they a family-
CEOCFO: How is business these days?
Mr. Khinouche: It is booming. The food industry is doing fairly well, and there is just so much savings available through digitization, that many customers already have active initiatives in process. When clients understand we can help them reduce their costs, improve safety, and improve sustainability at the same time, they are eager to partner with us. They do not have to choose anymore. Therefore, no complaints!
CEOCFO: Once a company engages with you, how involved are you after? They are using your services, they put in the equipment, where does Novolyze come in throughout the weeks, months, years that follow?
Mr. Khinouche: We are ready partners in our customers’ success, both short term and long term. Initially, we have project managers who facilitate deployment of the system and training of the food safety, quality and manufacturing teams at the factory locations and also at the customer’s corporate office. Once the initial startup stage is complete, our team of customer success managers work with customers – typically at least twice a month – to ensure things are going smoothly and provide coaching to help them get the most from the solution. We also actively gather feedback to help us improve our products and services. We continually invest in developing and fostering lasting relationships once we are engaged with a customer.
CEOCFO: Are you able to ramp up as needed? Can you take on all the business that comes your way?
Mr. Khinouche: Yes! That is the beauty of developing our platform on the cloud. Since Novolyze is basically a cloud service hosted on Azure, we can scale up to efficiently serve customers of any size around the globe. Our technology stack can scale up very, very quickly – there is no known limitation there.
When it comes to deploying multiple sites for a particular customer – for example a customer who has 20/50/100 factories – we have a model that enables full deployment faster than the change management timeline desired by those companies. Our goal is always to match the pace of change desired by our customers.
CEOCFO: Why is Novolyze an important company?
Mr. Khinouche: Humbly, Novolyze is literally the first – and the only – company on the planet improving food safety and quality leveraging this latest technology. We continually survey the market and in Europe, the US, or wherever we have looked, our solution is currently unique on this planet. Our platform empowers customers to both improve their P&L sustainability and the safety of consumers. You can imagine, when we were serving the food market worth over 4 trillion dollars, you can expect that the growth potential is gigantic, and we believe we are in a good place to secure the best of it.
Novolyze EMP | Karim-