Startup Spotlight is an ongoing series which profiles Canadian wireless and mobile technology startups.
This month, we spoke with Gonzalo Tudela, the CEO of Vandrico. Vandrico develops Wearables Software Solutions for large commercial operations to remove process bottlenecks, reduce operational downtime and reduce lost time injuries. The human-based contextual information presented by Vandrico adds an invaluable dimension to operational management, safety forensics and analytics.
What’s the inspiration behind Vandrico? What led you to work in the (enterprise) wearables space?
Vandrico was initially founded on a desire to get a bunch of smart people onto a team, and then work together to solve difficult world-class problems. Our President and Co-Founder Kenny MacKenzie put us all in a room one day; after some questions and mutual soul-searching, all of us on the team agreed to commit 110% for 2 years, no matter what.
After that, we looked at emerging technology trends and started forming the basis of our wearable technology database. We made some statistics-based predictions on adoption rates and used it to figure out when enterprise demand would heat up. This put us in a position where we strongly believed we saw an inevitable future.
After the 2 weeks it took to get a clear hypothesis on the future, we dove in and dedicated ourselves to creating the best software we could. Our goal was to speed up the adoption of wearables by enabling large enterprises to more easily integrate the use of cutting-edge technology for safety and productivity gains.
You recently announced the Minesafe Smartwatch, which is built on your wearable and IoT communications platform known as “Canary”. What has the response been like so far to this new product?
It took less than a week to get great validation from the industry. We presented the solution with one of our mining partners, Illumiti, at the Global Mining and IT Summit and immediately won an award. Our booth had a small crowd around it, like we were offering signatures after a hockey game. We’re working on some paperwork right now that will bring us closer to piloting the solution in underground mines across the world.
Aside from the enterprise market, have you made attempts to engage the general public as well? What are your efforts like in that regard?
In 2013 and early 2014, our strategy was to to feed the media with useful data that they could use. It started with an open database on the industry, which now receives over 1 million views a year. Then, we had countless calls educating people about Google Glass, wearable tech and where the market was heading. It generated over 11,000 links to our website and influenced the public media to steer the story from “Google Glass is creepy” to “Google Glass for the workplace”.
This opened up a whole new lens for public and allowed us to talk about the bigger picture of the soon-to-be enterprise market. After a little while, we started getting asked to do some presentations and even a TEDx talk. Today, we’re active on panels and presenting keynotes roughly 3-4 times a month at various conferences and cities across the world.
We will continue to be open supporters of wearables in enterprise. Over the next 6 months, we will start showing more information on the value companies are finding.
The wearables market is rapidly growing. From where you stand, what trends or developments do you see coming in the next 5-10 years?
The next 12-18 months is going to be a hardware bloodbath. There are too many smartwatches that don’t differentiate themselves enough to provide enough unique value. I think we’ll see companies start to differentiate in the enterprise market, as they make industry-specific watches and head-mounted displays (HMDs) that fit toughness requirements (ex. IP68 rating for the mining industry). This will help start a “super trend” in making smartwatches a tool for workers to receive better information on the front lines.
As the remaining consumer devices will consolidate down to the main players, I think we’ll see more startups focusing on algorithms and dashboards that give us new insights. They will work on creating IP to license/sell to the main hardware players that dominate the market. Try and imagine the Apple iPhone fingerprint ID story taken to wearables. One clear example is Bionym, who currently has hardware but will probably be acquired for their algorithm.
Longer term, we’re going to see the industry work on improving the accuracy of these devices. The holy grail of wearable data is healthcare, but the industry needs to make it medically accurate and relevant before doctors will adopt it. As newer and better sensors start being incorporated, we’ll also see new data that can be generated.