By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
“I recently told a new board member the last three years have been more fun than the three years before,” Bill Malkes of Knoxville’s GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc., told us recently with a big smile on his face.
We sat down with the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the nine-year old intelligent traffic technology company after receiving an intriguing Christmas card. No, it was not the holiday message that caught our attention, but rather the highlights of the last year that were reinforced by Malkes’ comments early in our interview.
“Our revenue growth the past two years has been amazing,” he said. The growth in 2014 compared to the previous year was 40 percent, and the number increased another 60 percent in 2015. Malkes expects the trajectory to continue in 2016 with the introduction of its new GS2 processor.
“We pushed out Beta units in the fourth quarter of 2015, and everything we ship this year will be the new unit,” he says.
What are its advantages?
“We took two-thirds of the size out and cut individual components used by 85 percent,” Malkes explains. The updated GS2 processor also includes a modem that allows faster data transfer to the Cloud.
“It’s a game changer, but it is a 12 on a 1-10 scale for the cool factor,” Malkes says of the device that was designed with the help IDEO, a global design firm.
The GS2 processor is not the only high point for GRIDSMART in 2015.
“We had a user conference – INTERSECT15 – that was attended by 80 industry executives,” Malkes noted. Those who came to Knoxville for the three-day event included representatives from Canada, Scotland, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates in addition to the U.S.
The broad geographic attendance makes sense. GRIDSMART has customers in 48 states and 22 countries.
The company also deployed a new version of its web-based ATLAS video board solution in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in conjunction with the Pan American games. The system allows government agencies to look at visuals from all sources, not just a GRIDSMART system.
Today, Malkes describes GRIDSMART as an integrated product company. “Hardware was a means to an end, but that was yesterday; GS2 is tomorrow . . . today,” he says.
It’s only natural that data is an increasingly important component of the company’s sales.
In 2013 about a fourth of the units sold came with a data transfer capability. That number grew to 48 percent in 2014 and 70 percent in 2015.
Such a growth translates into a continuing high priority being placed on improving existing reports and adding new ones.