iMonitor meets goals through strong coaching

Over the past four years, Aucklander Robin Alden has made a transition. He was an engineer with a burning desire to design and make world-leading monitoring and control systems.
iMonitor meets goals through strong coaching

iMonitor meets goals through strong coaching

Over the past four years, Aucklander Robin Alden has made a transition. He was an engineer with a burning desire to design and make world-leading monitoring and control systems.

Now – after plenty of coaxing from Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and a business mentor – Robin is a switched-on commercial operator ready to launch his wireless monitoring solutions on the international stage.

“When we first met with ATEED (more than four years ago), we were a start-up company founded by engineers struggling to find our direction, more focused on technology than our customers, and therefore struggling commercially and financially,” says Robin (pictured, top), chief executive of iMonitor, based in East Tamaki.

He says ATEED helped in many ways including:

  • Giving us someone unbiased who actually cared about our company’s future and could see, over time, the mistakes we were making and subtly helped us along the journey
  • Financially through various grants which allowed us to engage with outside consultants and experts who provided us with fresh perspectives and skills needed to solve various challenges
  • Great connections with clients, suppliers, business partners and ‘unfamiliar’ industries.

Robin says iMonitor now has a very clear direction, is far more commercially focused and has secured private equity investment.

“I gained invaluable knowledge from the various consultants – including creating strong strategies, drawing up contracts, negotiating confidentially, and creating positive sales outcomes with my customers.

“ATEED truly wanted our company to succeed and without their help we would still be struggling in so many ways – with their help we are now well down the path to realising our original vision for the company.’’

A turning point came when ATEED introduced Robin to Daniel Batten of Beyond the Ceiling. Daniel, a fellow software entrepreneur and business coach, encouraged Robin to develop a value proposition and the skills and confidence to take a New Zealand-based technology to the world.

Daniel created the term GEMS (geniuses, engineers, mavericks and scientists) and believes that when GEMS unleashed version 2.0 of themselves, New Zealand will immediately become a high-wage economic superpower. Robin now regards himself as version 2.0.

iMonitor meets goals through strong coaching2

Using wireless mesh, cellular networks and eventually satellite, iMonitor is developing a real-time system to monitor the conditions (temperature and humidity) while perishable products are being transported through the cold-chain from the source to the retailer.

iMonitor’s communications devices and sensors can be installed in food cool stores and refrigerated trucks, so companies know exactly what is happening to their product, where it is and more importantly receive warnings of potential problems, such as a rise in temperature, along the delivery chain.

The real-time monitoring system, which is connected to the cloud, ensures product quality and safety, and prevents losses. The customers can check the progress of their product on their computer screen or mobile from any location.

iMonitor is conducting trials of its new product in New Zealand and Singapore, and it has made a demonstration to Walmart in China.

Robin says the monitoring system will be commercially launched next year in a limited capacity. “We still have work to do on the alert service and providing the next generation hardware.”

The system will send real-time alerts when measurements fall outside safe levels, and it archives data to allow operators to meet regulatory requirements.

iMonitor got moving after it obtained a $5000 Callaghan Innovation Getting Started grant to undertake an intellectual property review. Then Callaghan paid for a $25,000 R&D Student Fellowship, and iMonitor has applied for a Callaghan R&D Project grant.

The Auckland company wants to complete $1.2 million worth of R&D, including market development, over the next 15 months and is looking for Callaghan to match its investment with a grant of up to $500,000.

So what’s iMonitor’s value proposition? Robin says anyone moving perishable product faces the risk of poor temperature or humidity and this is not always detected until the product arrives worse for wear. Consumers could get sick eating it.

Our product can prevent issues of health, quality and wastage. It is an efficient and reliable system that ensures the product is safe. The cost of waste can be considerable and impacts on the bottom-line of the business.

“With our product, businesses can mitigate their risk, increase their profitability and lower their prices, and their customers are happier.”

iMonitor developed the in-home display offered as part of the successful pay-as-you-go Globug system used by Mercury Energy customers (pictured, bottom).

The Globug technology is now into its third version and has evolved to a smartphone app which shows consumers how much power they have used on a daily basis, and allows them to make a $20 minimum payment through the app or online, or at 6000 retail outlets worldwide.

Mercury has slashed disconnections by more than 90 per cent since 2006 by providing Globug's pre-pay alternative, as well as changing its credit processes.

iMonitor is looking to partner with Mercury’s owner Might River Power to create export opportunities for the catchy Globug.