Miriam Rivera: The other company was run by men and this was run by a mom. I think she really related to the issues. She related to the customers’ needs. She understood the importance of safety and reliability, and understood that for the parents, reliability was more important than the price.
They tend to have a more stable set of drivers. They tend to pay a bigger fraction than other transportation companies. They try to develop a set of drivers and relationships around the family so that the family has more comfort. They also have tracking technology to allow the parents to know where the child is at any point in time.
Sramana Mitra: It’s an Uber for bringing children to school and activities.
Miriam Rivera: Yes, and they’re growing very quickly. They went from being in one school district last year to being in 103 districts this year.
Sramana Mitra: Awesome. Let’s do another example of something that you’ve invested in that’s representative of how you think.
Miriam Rivera: Arch Systems is a company that is in the Internet of Things space. They were started by a set of founders that had worked in the Peace Corps. In the Peace Corps, they had wanted to develop sensors that would allow people to test well water quality and be able to tell people at a distance. Many people are walking great distances to sources of water. They wanted to develop a reliable and low-cost approach to sensoring this type of water access.
They realized that it was a very challenging problem to do it cheaply. Part of that was you typically required a prototyping phase and then a manufacturing phase. You develop something and then you built it out. Then you spec’d it out. Then you could have a manufacturer build something. For a number of years, they worked for a non-profit to help develop these sensors. They realized that they also had something that could now be a potential commercial application.
They founded a company to take these kinds of sensors and their process and be able to help any company build Internet of Things devices. Their great insight was a very old insight similar to what the Japanese did in the 70’s, which was to say, “Why don’t we design for manufacturability from the outset? That will help us reduce our cost and increase our quality.” What they did was develop software that could go from design to manufacturing, and reduce the need for different skillsets, which are difficult to find now because everyone went for computer science.
Many people moved away from electrical engineering and hardware engineering over the last decade. It’s very difficult to build devices because you don’t have as much of this expertise available. What we know is everybody in the world is trying to run their operations more efficiently, and there are many applications for technology from the field whether it be agriculture or factories. Essentially a factory is a set of machines that may all be in one physical location.
A company may have many physical locations in which they’re producing goods. People would like to be able to run those factories more efficiently by being able to measure production, understand when there’s a problem with the machine, and understand what the problem is. Now, they have entered into a relationship with one of the world’s largest manufacturers to help provide this kind of data in the field so that they can run factories as if the machines were actually related and communicating to each other by taking data from a huge variety of machines and sending it into a central data architecture where they can then track production and problems with machines.