How this Startup is Revolutionizing Municipal Data Collection
Coady Cameron was in his fourth year of Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) when he came up with an idea. He was learning how municipalities across the continent collected infrastructure data — with expensive vans carrying expensive equipment. Cameron asked why that data couldn’t be collected with the device in his (and everyone else’s) back pocket — a smartphone.
Cameron and his brother Drew decided to run with that idea. They launched TotalPave, a New Brunswick startup looking to change the way municipalities make crucial infrastructure decisions. Coady serves as CEO with Drew, himself a BBA graduate of UNB, looking after the finances as CFO.
Opportunities NB (ONB) spoke to Coady Cameron to learn more.
ONB: Can you give us an overview of what TotalPave offers?
Cameron: We help engineers collect standard road condition data using smartphones instead of big expensive vans. This data allows municipalities to make better paving decisions on an annual basis, resulting in better-conditioned roads at lower costs.
Engineers can input distresses into TotalPave’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) calculator and it will instantly output the necessary data. They can use our International Roughness Index (IRI) mobile app to automatically collect roughness while they drive. Finally, they can easily map general issues with our Issue Tracker app.
Data outputted is based on global standards so any municipality anywhere—anyone managing pavement really—can make use of our data.
ONB: Let’s discuss early adopters. You’ve had support from your hometown in the early going, is that right?
Cameron: Yes, the City of Fredericton was our first customer. Last summer was the first time we had usable technology and the City was there to test it for us. We added three other municipalities for the summer as well. We collected feedback from those municipalities and fine-tuned the solution for use with those same jurisdictions this summer.
ONB: Speaking of Fredericton, the city’s former Mayor Brad Woodside joined TotalPave recently. Tell us about that.
Cameron: We’ve been working hard on the technology to get it just right, and have had good early success with those early adopters. We’ve reached the point where we’re confident enough to start going after every engineer in the world. We needed a senior Business Development person, and we figured there weren’t too many people in the region with a better network, and more experience running a municipality, than Brad Woodside. He was the obvious best fit. He joined us as our Vice President of Business Development this spring.
ONB: It’s a good sign when the mayor of the city you first worked with joins your team. He clearly came to believe in the technology while in office.
Cameron: Absolutely. He’s been a champion of ours from the beginning, and a strong supporter of local startups in general throughout his tenure as Mayor. This confirms his dedication to the tech space.
ONB: Let’s talk about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Brunswick. What’s your experience been like?
Cameron: We received our first investment via NBIF’s Breakthru competition. They call it a ‘company-in-a-box’ solution and it really is. Not only is there equity investment, but you receive all the professional services you need; legal and accounting help, coaching, IT support, etc. It really gets your business off and running. During that time we also went through the Activator Program from UNB’s International Business and Entrepreneurship (IBEC), which really helped us with Breakthru.
We’ve since been part of all the great programs in this region. We went through a cohort at Planet Hatch, and participated in Propel ICT’s Build Program where we just wrapped on Demo Day. The support network for young businesses here is tremendous.
ONB: Having been through every step of the startup process, what’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Cameron: Get out there and do it. If you have a good idea and you want to pursue it, tell the world. There are hundreds of people here in our ecosystem dying to help you. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. The support network here is strong, we can vouch for it. If it wasn’t for all these support organizations offering help along the way we wouldn’t be here.
ONB: What do you consider benefits of living and working in New Brunswick?
Cameron: I love that I can hop in my car and be at work in five minutes. I can also very easily jump on my bike and go for a ride along the river. These may seem like small things but they’re not.
New Brunswick is a beautiful place. Low traffic, short commutes, reasonable house pricing, low overhead costs, it all helps. As we touched on, the infrastructure is here for entrepreneurs, you’re not giving up anything in that regard. You can have that work-life balance here; it’s not an either-or situation. You don’t have to sit in traffic for an hour or more going home, and yet you still have a solid ecosystem in place to support your business.
ONB: What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
Cameron: Having the necessary patience. When our idea originally came about I thought it would take a month or so to develop, and then we’d be on our way. But research and development has continued for three and a half years. Great things take time, I suppose. It’s nice to finally be able to hit the market rather than just toil away on the development side.
ONB: Finally, what has ONB’s role been with TotalPave?
Cameron: We’ve received assistance from ONB’s Export Development program when we went through Planet Hatch. We’ve also leveraged financial assistance for payroll and—perhaps more importantly—travel. Travel is the big one because for a small company it can be very expensive. The support we’ve received for travel has been essential. Plus the general guidance from ONB reps is just another great piece of that support ecosystem we’ve talked about.
Learn more at TotalPave.com.
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