One thing to appreciate about Minnesota’s startup community, and the broader tech industry at large here, is diversity.
There are over 1,000 product-based tech companies in Minnesota spanning multiple sectors of both consumer and enterprise markets; 20-30% are startups, 2% are public, and the wide majority are privately held with between $50k and $50m in annual revenues. That’s not counting the unusually large density of Fortune 500′s increasingly tapping the local tech market for R&D (with varying degree’s of success — see: Best Buy).
You’re unlikely to hear about Minneapolis’ latest startup — FuelMiner — on any of the mainstream tech media sites (yawn), but that may just be OK considering how many Minnesota startups are busy building real companies, not hype. It’s in our blood, our culture and our values. Perhaps it could even be considered a long-term strategic advantage.
Which is why I’m curiously interested in what’s been happening over the past 12 months here, because often times the quiet ones are more concerned with creating remarkable products that solve real world problems vs. stroking their entrepreneurial ego.
This recent Surge Accelerator graduate and 2011 upper midwest Clean Tech Open semi-finalist has invented an aftermarket diagnostic hardware device which collects data from commercial vehicles to reduce large scale transportation expenses and reduce C02 emissions through better fuel economy.
“Fuel efficiency is the second highest cost behind the driver’s wages,” CEO Germana Paterlini maintains. “It’s estimated that 25% of diesel fuel goes to waste on any given unit. Considering the level that commercial fleets operate on, that’s a very expensive issue.”
Multiple points are first gathered through diagnostic tool ‘Logger‘, including but not limited to:
- driving habits
The collective data is amassed in real time and visually displayed through SaaS ‘Explorer’ to form customized vehicle performance optimization and predictive maintenance models around individual units and entire fleets. “The data is the entry point,” she says, describing how routes, schedules, vehicles and drivers can be profiled and perceived in a whole new dimension.
“The evolution of connected devices are enabling a new era of intelligent transportation and there exists nothing else like it,” Paterlini adds, noting how she considers the technology to be superior to that of local company XATA, for example.
Together with husband and CTO Sermet Yucel these partners have 20+ years of experience developing software within the transportation industry under Certusoft, and “have already built software that is currently used in 40% of commercial automotives manufactured in the US.”
The product has been prototyped, has 3 patents pending and is currently running pilots with multiple fleet operators. Next steps are the attainment of a Software Product Manager and “the right capitalization.”
I’m far from an expert in the space, but a lot can be learned from the quietest of them.