Wearable Smart Tech and the Future of Worker Safety
The anatomy of our latest investment in Brooklyn-based StrongArm Technologies
I have known Sean Petterson for years since he and StrongArm Technologies won the Diamond Prize in the MassChallenge Boston Startup Accelerator. When I learned that he would be fundraising again soon and I heard about the strong traction he had made with key customers and then met the rest of his executive team, I knew I would want to participate in the round.
On June 1, we completed an investment in StrongArm Technologies, an Industry 4.0 platform that delivers technology to keep industrial workers protected and productive. Their wearable technology is currently deployed worldwide, empowering workforces to prevent debilitating injuries as well as reduce exposure to viruses like COVID-19. Across clients - including iconic Fortune 100 companies - they’ve proven the ability to reduce injuries by over 50% while producing triple-digit ROI for their clients.
We are particularly enthusiastic about StrongArm Technologies as an investment because of their savvy, driven executives, their traction and growth in key accounts, and their prospects for continued growth within current and potential accounts. What’s more, their enhanced COVID capabilities have garnered national press attention and, far more importantly, reduced workplace exposure by as much as 95% in current deployments.
During diligence, we encountered nothing but glowing reviews from customers and investors. We also discovered robust interest and untapped potential within existing and potential customers.
StrongArm Technologies Overview
StrongArm provides a safety platform for industrial workers that has reduced injuries by over 50% YoY for major enterprises including Walmart and Toyota. The solution features a wearable device with multiple sensors (including COVID-related mitigation via worker proximity monitoring and contact tracing), a smart dock with a touch screen that delivers customized micro-training, and a software platform that shares actionable insights with management.
StrongArm has multiple marquee clients (e.g. Walmart, Toyota) with others in pilots (e.g. Schneider Electric) and has increased MRR by 13% per month over the last 12 months (325% YoY). We believe that worker proximity sensors can mitigate COVID transmission, and that this will boost demand significantly in the near term leading to sustainable increases in recurring revenue from customers that will love the overall value proposition of the platform. StrongArm’s two largest customers recently announced they will more than double usage.
StrongArm has a team of 35 and growing, led by a cohesive executive team with highly-relevant experience and education. Two Lanterns has been particularly impressed by the lucid, hard-working, and highly responsive executives
Sean Petterson, CEO & Founder, is an Honoree of Forbes 30 Under 30 and a MassChallenge Diamond Winner. He graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a major in Industrial Design and Entrepreneurship. Michael Kim, CTO and Co-Founder, earned his B.E. in Mechanical Engineering Cum Laude. Matt Norcia, COO, has extensive experience in transportation and marketing, and received his B.A. from Bowdoin College. Bryant Eadon is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has worked previously at Thomson Reuters and Credit Suisse.
More impressive than their resume line items, though, is their cohesion as a team and their intense focus on delivering results for their clients, team, and partners. They delivered promptly and professionally on every request we made for data or references, and every reference we contacted provided glowing feedback on the team and their work ethic. They literally finished each other’s sentences on our calls, and they were able to address all of our concerns rapidly and with empirical data. They just impressed us at every stage in our discussions.
Platform Overview and Value Proposition
StrongArm Technologies saves clients money by reducing labor costs and improving productivity due to injury prevention. The platform consists of an IoT-enabled sensor, a Smart Dock, and an analytics platform.
The FUSE Sensor is a next generation IoT device engineered to provide real-time, accurate safety data and reduce worker risk profiles.
The FUSE Sensor measures or calculates 25 different data points from sensing chips every 80 milliseconds. Haptic - or vibrational - feedback indicates high-risk potential in real time; auditory and visual alerts chime in if an unsafe scenario isn’t remedied in due time. FUSE is also proven to ensure new (i.e. potentially higher-risk) employees behave at parity with the risk profiles of far more tenured workers.
COVID-19 Update: The FUSE proximity feature helps Industrial Athletes and those who work with them safely abide by CDC recommended social distancing guidelines. Using RSSI values, the distance between sensors can be measured accurately to the foot and FUSE Sensors can provide a variety of alerts to the end user - vibration, visual and auditory - when a proximity threshold is met. The interactions are time-stamped and logged for contact tracing, helping management identify individuals who may have been exposed so that an outbreak can be identified proactively and potentially contained.
The FUSE Smart Dock ensures seamless recharging and deployment; the touch-screen tablet provides worker-specific tips and insights while keeping check-in and check-out a breeze.
The touch-screen tablet provides worker-specific risk profile details, actionable insights, and recommendations for a safer work environment, never missing a chance for valuable micro-learning opportunities. The dock recharges batteries from empty to fully charged in 30 min, and also captures, stores and transfers information securely to the cloud to enable remote management. The Smart Dock is capable of sharing devices intelligently across multiple shifts.
The FUSE Platform offers safety managers forward-indicating data and analysis for risk reduction, time saving, workforce management and corrective action.
Proprietary machine learning modules address worker engagement, outline the impacts of staff reduction on a shift-by-shift basis, facilitate onboarding, and ensure policies and standards are met and optimized consistently. New modules measure “true fatigue” and – along with safety risk metrics – help drive well-being and productivity. Perhaps most critically, the platform empowers informed decision-making for management through customized, daily reporting.
Enabling safer manufacturing and deliveries at a key inflection point
Worker safety is critically important -- all the more so right now given the spike in demand for online purchases and deliveries in the midst of a global pandemic. We are grateful to be able to contribute to a safer and more productive supply chain, and we are thrilled about the economic prospects for StrongArm Technologies.