Making computers and data generated by them easy to use and beneficial in the real world.
Name: Netarus, LLC
Product / Service Offering: Netarus manufactures and sells industrial-grade video monitoring solutions.
Co-founder Interviewed: Chris Machut
Other Key Management Team Members: Mark Shaw and Lew Crenshaw
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I am a Virginia Tech computer engineering graduate and love the intersection between software and the hardware world. Making computers and data generated by them easy to use and beneficial in the real world has been my passion for the past 20 years. This is now called “big data” and “internet of things” (IoT). The people I work with and the technology that we develop make the experience one that I truly embrace on a daily basis. We have an outstanding team that works together well, that are smarter than me, and that I learn from every day.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
We started this project back in 2012 wanting to put cameras on boats to make it safer for captains to see around their vessel. We were approached by a tugboat company to help them push barges down the river way more safely and provide them with a wireless camera that could transmit wirelessly back to the operator. This is where we came up with a TugCam™. From there, we saw that heavy equipment operators had the same challenge of not seeing the load they are moving around a jobsite and effectively “flying blind”. This was called HoistCam™. Management wanted the capability to see this same view from the HoistCam™ camera in their offices for incident tracking and monitoring the workflow of the job site. This is where we created HoistCam™ Director. Finally, all the video and images we were capturing from HoistCam™ onto HoistCam™ Director amounted to over 20GB of data a day. We found that many people needed an easy way to analyze the data and deliver it to them in a timely manner, which led to our SiteTrax.io platform.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
We provide rapidly deployable situational awareness for heavy equipment operators and those that manage the job sites. We provide the eyes and tool set for everyone from the heavy equipment operator to site supervisor and virtual coordinators to make better and more informed decisions.
Describe one of your offerings more specifically to help us fully understand how your company meet customer needs.
HoistCam™ improves employee productivity and workplace safety in the construction, industrial, marine and transportation industries. HoistCam™, a rapidly deployable wireless camera system, places the eyes of the crane operator anywhere on the job. The HoistCam™ platform suite provides optional remote monitoring, recording and management analytics reporting to operators and site supervisors. Netarus’ HoistCam™ Director enables centralized monitoring for the job site via HoistCam™, other cameras and even drones. Netarus HoistCam™ SiteTrax.io provides customized and automated reporting capabilities including video records, safety analysis and 3D models.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
We embrace our competitors’ camera systems and analytics tools. With SiteTrax.io, we function as the centralized point to automatically capture, analyze, and most importantly, provide deliverable actionable data.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
Initially it was the right people. By leveraging our contacts in the industry, we think we have a great team that is ready to be spun up full time. Our next challenge is funding. We have boot strapped ourselves for the past several years and are looking to grow the company and its capabilities.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
Tradeshows are an outstanding way to network, not necessarily making immediate sales. Trade shows are not cheap, but they are especially necessary in a B2B environment. There is no easier way than at industry tradeshows and events to be in front of all of your customers and their partners.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We have joined an incubator and have received some seed investment. We are actively trying to close our seed round with additional funding.
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Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Our main question was where to find funding. People say it is easy. I think they say it is easy once you have the right contacts. This has been hard for us because we have never worked with outside investment. Running the business is definitely the harder part. Where is the best place to gain attention in all of the “investment noise”?
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What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Trello.com. Instead of leaving emails unread in my inbox, I clear out my inbox regularly and use Trello to track tasks across hardware, production, marketing, sales, and even executive level tasks, such as writing this content.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We are actively seeking seed investment to grow our market to sell and develop our SiteTrax.io platform. Netarus will be attending the ConExpo in Las Vegas, March 2017 and is featuring SiteTrax.io in the ConExpo Technology Experience.
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