Posted on Thursday, Mar 31st 2016
According to the IDC, global organizations were expected to spend about $120 billion in 2015 to connect factory operations, building systems, and mobile equipment in the field to the Internet of Things. Gartner reports that in 2014, 278 million factory machines, construction vehicles, and other pieces of industrial equipment were connected to the Internet of Things. By 2020 Gartner expects 526 million pieces of manufacturing equipment to be connected. Billion Dollar Unicorn Club member Uptake is already growing based on this trend.
Chicago-based Uptake was founded in 2014 by Groupon’s co-founder, Brad Keywell and his investment partner Eric Lefkofsky. It is a predictive analytics SaaS platform provider that helps companies optimize performance, reduce asset failures, and enhance safety by making data understandable. Uptake realizes the importance of data and helps companies understand and act on data. It works with heavy equipment companies like Caterpillar and utilizes data collected from their machinery, which otherwise would have gone waste. Its platform collects, normalizes, and stores real-time data from heavy machines and integrates it with data from operations and other third party sources to create information that is comprehensive and actionable. By building in the organization’s existing workflows into its algorithm, it allows the right person to take action at the right time.
Uptake has developed unique partnerships with industry leaders and is able to integrate cross-industry expertise, data science and workflow connectivity to deliver high-value solutions for big data sets. Its platform helps identify problems even before they happen through predictive recommendations and helps in solving them through workflow-based processes across construction, agriculture, mining, the energy sector, oil and gas, and the aviation sector.
Its most notable partnership is that with Caterpillar. In 2014, when Uptake was just being set-up, Douglas R. Oberhelman, the chief executive of Caterpillar, was searching for better data analytics technology for its customers. Caterpillar wanted to put sensors in locomotives that would proactively warn customers when repairs were due instead of waiting for an accident or a shutdown to occur. While searching for this solution, he met up with Brad and the two hit it off. Today, Caterpillar and Uptake are working together to adapt heavy machinery in getting connected and becoming a part of the Internet of Things revolution. Through Uptake’s platform, data can be collected on machine performance to help Caterpillar create and deploy machines that are more suited to the task at hand. Uptake’s software can thus help secure better hours, improved efficiency, and better life expectancy for heavy machine industries.
Uptake has been operating in stealth mode for a while and has now begun to talk about itself. It has still kept its financials hidden but has revealed that it is already profitable and is “generating significant revenue”. Uptake does not disclose any details on its customers, besides Caterpillar, and products.
In October 2015, Uptake raised its first and only venture funding round when it raised $45 million from GreatPoint Ventures, Lightbank, and New Enterprise Associates at a valuation of $1.1 billion. After its tie-up with Uptake, Caterpillar also became an investor and purchased a minority stake.
There aren’t many players in the big machine data analytics field. GE is by far the biggest vendor with over a billion dollars invested in data centers for the technology. GE has already got big brands like United Airlines and BP as its customers. However, Uptake has the benefit of the startup zeal on its side and the fact that one of its customers is also an investor speaks volumes about its potential.
More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. Unicorns will also be discussed with some special guests during our 1M/1M Roundtable programs over the next few weeks. To be a part of the conversation, please register here. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.
This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns
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