Companies to keep an eye on
Greater Madison boasts some impressive fast-growing companies, all of which deserve our attention as they work to become the ‘next big thing.’
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Hard-headed about safety
Another young company that presented at the Wisconsin Technology Council’s 2018 Elevator Pitch Olympics, where it finished second, and also progressed to the third phase of the 2019 Governor’s Business Plan Contest is UCHardChip. The startup came from co-founder Ulysses C. Dinkins’ desire not to see another friend die as the result of an on-the-job injury.
Dinkins, a carpenter with decades of experience, also serves as vice president of construction technology. He says it was his friend’s death, along with its fallout, that led him to realize there had to be a better way for contractors, skilled laborers, and construction workers to perform their duties safely and protect them on the worksite.
Founded in 2016, UCHardChip has designed and produced sensor and microprocessor-embedded personal protective equipment (PPE) and supporting software for construction and other industries that function on Bluetooth technology.
Broadly, UCHardChip products, which are in the beta stage of testing, are designed to improve safety, productivity, and quality in construction, which is perceived as among the most dangerous economic sectors in North America, and one that’s also contending with labor shortages.
Specific UCHardChip applications include sensing environmental conditions for safety hazards and for necessary conditions of certain work; sensing worker activity levels and biometrics, which may indicate health emergencies; coordinating workers and the materials and tools they need in an often chaotic workplace; and enabling hands-free communication between workers, crew leaders, and supervisors to resolve task uncertainty before work is performed incorrectly — all in real time and with the clarity derived from accurately identifying the location of each worker.
Dinkins says the company, which currently has six full-time employees, still has a little fuel left in its tank from its original $20,000 equity and term-loan angel round of financing, which it’s using to get as far as it can in developing its beta version of the product and begin piloting it this fall. But fundraising continues as UCHardChip seeks to progress further to market. Notes Dinkins: “We need $160,000 to $200,000 to achieve a competent location solution and working models for piloting.”
The full slate of Madison-area companies ranked on this year’s Inc. 5000 list is as follows:
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