Giovanni Giannola, an FIU alumnus, recalls how at the young age of seven, he began upgrading computers for his father’s company. His dad worked as a general contractor in their home country, Venezuela. Giannola would install Windows 95 onto the computers using what would be considered a fossil in this day and age — a floppy disk. He spent his childhood learning how to code when Google wasn’t around to help, studying computer hardware and breaking and burning a few computers.
“I broke a lot of things, but I always fixed them,” said Giannola, who is now the owner of his very own start-up company called Globalesm, Inc.
Based in Weston, Florida, Globalesm offers a cloud-based platform Internet of Things (IoT) solution for commercial and industrial automation. The Internet of Things, more commonly known as IoT, is the network of smart devices – such as smart bulbs, smart phones, smart watches – connected to the Internet, enabling smart devices to collect and exchange data. The software Globalesm provides enhances operations and productivity for businesses in the industries of power, building automation and transportation.
Giannola and his family migrated to Miami in 2009 where he completed his high school studies. After high school, Giannola attended Miami-Dade College and received his associate’s degree in electrical engineering. In 2013, he transferred to FIU to pursue his bachelor’s in computer engineering, offered through FIU’s College of Engineering & Computing.
At FIU, Giannola’s favorite classes included circuit analysis, ethical hacking and countermeasures and computer design. However, an entrepreneurship course Giannola took, taught by FIU College of Business Sales Instructor Rafael Soltero Venegas, inspired Giannola to open his very own company. “My objective in the engineering entrepreneurship course I teach is to get students out of their comfort zone and have them start connecting with people to validate their ideas,” said Soltero Venegas. “The course isn’t about how to write a business plan. It’s about providing students with real world, hands-on learning and pushing them to talk to competitors, customers and partners for students to see how uncertain and chaotic it can be to pursue a startup. However, it truly gives me satisfaction to see students like Giovanni go for it because despite the challenges, starting your own company is quite the adventure.”
In 2015, Giannola came up with the idea of creating an e-commerce website selling power tools, supplies and machinery to the Latin American and Caribbean markets, which is difficult to reach because online shopping is not as popular in these areas compared to the United States.
“Every start is hard. We had a difficult time obtaining access to a variety of different inventory to make our online store attractive to potential consumers,” said Giannola. “Little by little, we began seeing more brands trust us and give us the opportunity to represent them worldwide.”
At the time Giannola started his company, he was approaching graduation. As part of his senior design project, a requirement for all engineering students, Giannola and his team designed and developed an Android app to use with an Automated External Distributor (AED). An AED is a portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. This is commonly used on patients who’ve suffered from a heart attack. The app was connected to an AED using Bluetooth and provided real-time feedback while using the AED.
Giannola’s senior design project led to a shift in his business plan by incorporating Internet of Things and building automation to his company. In 2016, he changed his company’s name from Global Equipment Supply & Machinery to Globalesm, with the vision of making his company go global.
Globalesm’s products enhance operations and productivity for businesses with a dashboard designer and built-in analytics, allowing anyone, despite their level of experience in computer software, to use the software. For instance, a building manager can use this software to control the heating and air conditioning, lighting, security controls and fire safety of a building all from one platform. In essence, the software unifies all IoT devices located in a building.
“We are making buildings smarter and more cost-effective,” said Giannola.
The Internet of Things has grown immensely throughout the years and continues to do so. It is estimated that by 2020, there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices, according to research firm Gartner. In 2018, FIU became the first institution in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in Internet of Things. Giannola’s goal for Globalesm is to introduce IoT to a series of industries such as oil, gas and transportation.
“We’re making people’s lives easier through technology,” said Giannola.
Giannola also works as an integration business systems engineer at Tellus, a provider of mobile health and electronic visit verification solutions designed to improve care delivery for home health and personal care services.
“It’s great when we can attract high-caliber, local talent like Gio,” said Brad Levine, CEO of Tellus. “He brings to the table a combination of technical skill, innovative thinking and an entrepreneurial mindset.” Giannola’s role at Tellus consists of defining, building, testing, deploying and maintaining interfaces for health care integrations. He monitors and pro-actively resolves interfaces in real-time ensuring data reliability and security.