SMARTCONE TECHNOLOGIES INC.

Organization

Ottawa is increasingly considered one of the hottest and most diverse tech hubs in North America. One of the companies contributing to this wave of excitement is SmartCone Technologies Inc., headquartered in the Stittsville area southwest of Ottawa’s Kanata suburb.

Led by founder and chief executive officer Jason Lee, SmartCone Technologies produces entire connectivity systems consisting of one or many “SmartCones”—deployable sensor devices that collect sensor data, analyze it using advanced computing power and software, and use that information to keep people safe in vulnerable and hazardous areas. Examples of its detection capabilities include video cameras, motion sensors, facial and gender recognition, licence plate recognition, air quality testing, and light detection and ranging (LIDAR), among others. The entire device fits inside a three-inch plastic pipe and is often placed at the top of a sawed-off traffic cone, hence the name “SmartCone.”

Because they are so easy to set up and use, SmartCones offer a seemingly endless list of applications. For instance, as part of a recently completed project for the City of Ottawa, SmartCones were installed at an intersection to notify drivers of approaching cyclists riding in a bike lane. As a cyclist approached the intersection, LED lights begin flashing to tell drivers that a cyclist s approaching. Other applications include licence plate recognition for a rental car company, traffic incident management for transportation agencies, and safety monitoring at construction sites.

History

Lee developed the idea for the SmartCone as he travelled extensively on a research project from 2009 to 2010. After visiting such diverse locations as Siberia, Bolivia, and the Middle East, he realized that there was not enough technological infrastructure in place to keep military personnel safe. Upon researching this concept further, Lee found his results about military personnel could be extrapolated to other individuals facing high-risk situations, like first responders, police officers, and the general public. From there, he set about developing a solution that could leverage modern technology to foster a safer environment, wherever it may be. When the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution gained momentum around 2015, Lee realized that he and his team were already significantly ahead of the IoT game, and he decided to start the company.

Performance

The past three years have involved excitement, growth, and hard work for the team at SmartCone Technologies. As a result of this hard work, the company has secured seven contracts to date, and is on the verge of a few more major deals. Lee notes that this success can be attributed to many factors.

As Lee explains, the SmartCone was designed in such a way that anyone—from military officers and first responders to construction workers—could understand and operate it seamlessly.

First, the product itself is astoundingly innovative and useful. Not only does the SmartCone contain some of the most advanced technology on the market, but it is extremely deployable. SmartCone Technologies offers turnkey solutions for its end users, and implementing its products can be as simple as dropping a cone in the desired location. As Lee explains, the SmartCone was designed in such a way that anyone—from military officers and first responders to construction workers—could understand and operate it seamlessly.

Another attractive aspect of the SmartCone is its affordability. Customers can purchase a SmartCone with as many or as few features as they desire, since it was built creatively using open-source software and an add-on style product model. This factor ensures that SmartCones remain accessible to diverse markets.

The third component that sets SmartCone Technologies apart from other firms is its tight-knit, family-style employee base. When talking about his employees, Lee is quick to point out that he loves everyone he works with. SmartCone Technologies hires people based on character as opposed to their knowledge base, because Lee wants the culture of the company remain one of collectiveness and work ethic.

Having such a qualified, dedicated team has helped SmartCone Technologies immensely in securing new business. The firm’s 15 employees comprise engineers, marketers, and software experts, with everyone working together in a collaborative workspace to ensure they are all pursuing the same goal: SmartCone Technologies’ success. In talking to the employees, you get the sense that it is truly a team environment and each individual wants nothing more than to see SmartCone Technologies succeed.

A final quality that has contributed to SmartCone Technologies’ growth and success is tenaciousness. Lee recognizes that today’s competitive business landscape is a daunting one for start-ups. Therefore, he asserts, the company must come up with creative ways to advertise and secure business.

Challenges

Like any thriving start up, SmartCone Technologies has overcome several challenges, and continues to face others. One challenge Lee expects to face is interest and pressure from large stakeholders in the IoT industry as word spreads about SmartCone Technologies. Every day, individual innovators and large corporations come up with new ways to leverage IoT. For SmartCone Technologies to remain at the cutting edge of the industry, the company must work tirelessly to maintain close relationships with its customers and secure new business.

The other challenging, but exciting, issue Lee and his team face is scaling the business. SmartCone Technologies is at the point where it has experienced some success and uncovered ample opportunity to expand. Lee notes that he wants to grow the business and continue innovating, while simultaneously maintaining the current tight-knit culture at the company.

Prospects

The manufacturing, autonomous vehicle, and mining industries all contain many different areas where the SmartCone Solution can add major value.

It is an exciting time for everyone at SmartCone Technologies. Because of the wide variety of uses and applications for SmartCones, SmartCone Technologies is looking at targeting many different industries. The manufacturing, autonomous vehicle, and mining industries all contain many different areas where the SmartCone Solution can add major value. Further, as modern cities begin their transition into becoming “smart” cities, SmartCones can be distributed throughout to generate real-time data that stakeholders can use to improve the safety of the general public. SmartCones have the ability to transmit data to the cloud so individuals who are not on site can still analyze and learn from it. They can also detect near misses, such as a close encounter between a car and a cyclist, and process this data to minimize future similar interactions.

Jason Lee and his team know that now is the time to harness the growing excitement about their product and use it to expand into new locations and industries across the globe.

The city of Ottawa is abuzz with talk about SmartCone Technologies. Jason Lee and his team know that now is the time to harness the growing excitement about their product and use it to expand into new locations and industries across the globe. The initial months of operations yielded useful lessons for them, and although it took some time for everyone to find their groove, the future now looks bright indeed for SmartCone Technologies.

Company Profile

Company Description

Overview

SmartCone Technologies Inc. is a private company that produces Internet of Things (IoT) – based safety and monitory solutions for a variety of industries. Its main product, the SmartCone, is a deployable sensor device that collects sensor data, analyzes it using advanced computing power and software, and uses the information it learns to keep people safe in vulnerable and hazardous areas. Some areas where SmartCones are currently being utilized are in bike lane safety, construction site safety, and incident management for transportation agencies.

Key Facts

Website

Headquarters:

  • 139 Iber Road, Stittsville, ON, K2S 1E7

Executives:

  • Jason Lee – CEO

  • Susan Richards – CFO

  • Michael J. Enos – Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales

  • Frank Thiel – President, SmartCone USA

  • Tom Morocz – Vice President Sales Engineering

Year Established:

  • 2015

Number of Employees:

  • 15

Features of the SmartCone

  • Detection/monitoring options:

    • Video cameras

    • Motion Sensors

    • Facial and gender recognition

    • License plate recognition

    • LIDAR – trip wire/distance measuring

    • Seismic

    • Windspeed

    • Multigas detectors, toxic and/or slightly toxic

    • Air quality monitoring

    • Temperature + variances in

    • Others

  • Alert Methods

    • Text, telephone, and/or email notification

    • Flashing LED lights, of any colour (usually red and green)

    • Digital signs

    • Custom audio messages uploaded on the fly

    • Pre-recorded sounds from speakers, such as a warning message, alarm bells or sirens

    • Vibrating wrist devices

    • Potential for wireless emergency alert

    • Potential broadcast through emergency broadcast system

  • Other features

    • Portable

    • Scalable and adaptable

    • Deployable

    • Customizable

    • Quick installation

    • Multiple power options (battery, solar, grid)

Customers

  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car

  • Exelon Corporation

  • City of Ottawa

  • Department of Transportation North Dakota

  • SBA RCA Participant

  • Department of Transportation Florida

  • Village of Lyons Police Department

Markets/Exports

  • Sold primarily in Canada and the United States but looking to expand globally

R&D, Skills and Educational Needs

  • R&D:

    • Conduct extensive research in house in order to stay on top of market trends and develop new SmartCone features

  • Skills:

    • Software development

    • Business development

    • Sensor technology

    • Data collection and analytics

    • Prototyping and testing

  • Education:

    • Employees have various educations with engineering, science, or business backgrounds

History

SmartCone was founded in 2015 by current CEO Jason Lee. Since its inception, it has grown to secure seven contracts and employs a total of 15 people today.

Competitive Environment

Government Programs

  • Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

    • Assisted with hiring of employees

  • Southern Ontario Prosperity Initiative - Investing in Business Innovation

    • Assisted with Business Development

SWOT Analysis

  • Strengths

    • Innovative products

  • Challenges

    • Material composition changes in automotive industry

    • Adapting to the production of electric and autonomous vehicles

    • Transitioning out of tenured employees and training of new leaders in company

  • Opportunities

    • Opportunity to grow global sales

    • Opportunity to capitalize on market trends

Performance

Awards

  • TieCon 2016 Winner

OTHER PROFILES