“The Works” Participant #1: RDI Technologies Inc.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles profiling the teams participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “The Works” accelerator. The teams will pitch their ideas on September 21 during a “Demo Day” at Scripps Networks Interactive. For more details, click here. Registration deadline is September 16.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
At the time, RDI was focused on using its non-contact optical detection system, developed by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Hay, in three different sectors – infrastructure, machines and humans. The latter was as a unique baby monitor.
“We decided the consumer space was pretty difficult for a start-up to penetrate,” Jenna Johns, RDI’s Chief Operating Officer, says of the baby monitor sector. “We licensed it to an established player that will be launching a new product in early 2017.”
That decision left RDI with two sectors – one established (machinery), the other (critical infrastructure) immature but holding great promise. With some further improvements in the software platform, the start-up is generating revenue in both industries with a product that is now being offered under the Motion AmplificationTM brand.
“We’re a new tool to attack problems in a different way,” Wilson says of the machinery market. It has more established players without the technology advantage that RDI provides.
By comparison, Wilson sees significant growth and opportunity in the infrastructure monitoring space that is not utilizing advanced technology for condition assessment like is being done for machinery.
“They have not traditionally monitored the condition of bridges using technology,” he explains, adding, “Infrastructure monitoring programs are primarily where the machinery market was 30 years ago.”
The software improvement that RDI has made also caused a shift in focus – from a services strategy to a product company.
As described in our September 2015 article, RDI combined its proprietary software algorithms with off-the-shelf camera technology to detect deflection, displacement, movement and vibration applicable to inspections of plant machinery and infrastructure like bridges.
“The production of motion amplification videos required post-processing which could take 24 to 48 hours,” Wilson said. The new software product provides real-time conversion, amplified videos, and analysis which were user requested improvements.
RDI released the updated software to early adopters and Beta testers in late June and has done a much broader release this month. In addition, the company has added a multi-day training program that concludes with individuals being certified to use the product.
“We’re pretty excited about the progress we have made,” Johns says. She is also the RDI team member who was most involved in “The Works” accelerator. She praised the introductions and connections that were made and the weekly exchange of ideas.
“We had access to extra people with a lot of experience who helped us with decision making through critical transition periods for our company,” Johns explained.
Wilson added the significance of industry experts that the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center brought to the table such as Terry Douglass and John McNeely.