Commercial truck manufacturers spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually wringing an extra half a percent of fuel efficiency from commercial diesel engines. But once a driver gets behind the wheel of those trucks, his driving behavior can influence fuel efficiency by 35 percent or more. Innovation Works portfolio company Propel IT is doing something about that by tracking driver habits and incentivizing those habits that promote better fuel efficiency.
Started as a data analysis company looking at best practices in several industries, founder Anthony Lacenere created a tool for drivers to manage and monitor their own performance and incentivize their success. The company developed a hardware device that attaches to diesel engines and measures over 4,000 driving parameters in real time, instantly uploading the data to Propel IT’s database. Drivers can then log onto Propel IT’s website and see how they’re performing relative to fuel efficiency, as well as how to improve those driving behaviors. Driving efficiency improvements are incentivized by giving drivers points that can be redeemed for prizes.
So far, the technology has been a success: Propel IT is currently working with six companies, one of which saved $500,000 in fuel costs in a single quarter thanks to Propel IT’s product. Based on multiple rounds of customer feedback from its prototype, Propel IT has embarked on a redesign of the hardware and software, and has received an investment from Innovation Works to do so. The release of this newer version of the technology will serve as the company’s wide release and, essentially, the full-scale launch of the business.
While Innovation Works’ investment is critical to the development of the company, Anthony describes how the mentoring IW provides to companies is equally important: “Innovation Works has shown us how to take a product and sell it. They’ve shown us how to think through the whole business process.”
In addition to the investment and EIR mentorship, Propel IT also took advantage of IW’s Human Resources capabilities through which they found their Chief Technology Officer, a critical hire with a background in diesel engine optimization.
Propel IT’s early success has left them with high hopes for the future, and the capital and advising the company has received from Innovation Works has made them even more convinced that the best days for this young company are yet to come.