The innovation happening in smart mobility, connected, automated, and autonomous transportation is staggering. With recent announcements in federal and provincial government funding, that momentum is likely to continue. The implications of the technology are vast and constantly evolving. During the pandemic, Centre for Integrated Transportation & Mobility (CITM) innovator Preteckt doubled down on their technology and ensured their solutions remained fully available to their new and growing client base. Their evolution as a company is unique and an interesting study of the entrepreneurial journey. An idea that started in a residential garage has scaled to become an AI-based solution providing predictive maintenance for a range of vehicle types and personnel. Several years before Preteckt officially launched, the founding group toyed with the idea of creating a product that could detect, communicate, and subsequently prepare for a repair or maintenance issue prior to a vehicle breakdown. Once the group developed an AI algorithm that outperformed their seasoned and award-winning mentor mechanic, the team knew they were onto something.
Fast forward to 2018, and co-founders Ken Sills and Sasha Kucharczyk, now Preteckt’s Chief Technology Officer and Chief Operations Officer respectively, connected with CITM. After receiving mentoring and Executive in Residence consulting hours, extensive training and business development support, and multiple showcase opportunities including a sponsored feature as part of ‘Hamilton Alley’ at Collision 2019, Preteckt gained further traction.
“CITM has been integral to Preteckt’s growth as a company because they provided the support we required as a start-up and introduced us to strategic partners and customers who are early adopters of innovation in maintenance. As a business accelerator, they invested resources and time in our company, helping us achieve the momentum we see today and hope to continue as we look to scale across North America” states Krish Inbarajan, CEO, Preteckt.
Since that initial phase, Preteckt has been rewarded with multiple contracts and pilot project opportunities throughout North America. Recently, the company has been active in New York City, engaging with Transit Tech Lab; selected as one of eight promising companies as part of an exclusive cohort invited to participate in an intensive accelerator program; worked with Metropolitan Transit Authority, the largest transit system in the US; and secured an exclusive contract with the US Army. In Canada, was recently awarded a Scale AI grant to further develop its predictive maintenance technology solution for trucking fleets, and plans to further expand its presence within trucking fleets in the coming year. Preteckt is continuously refreshing its focus on maintenance innovation and has many new ways to help maintenance teams with various fleets.
The company continues to operate a head office in Hamilton and has strong ties to McMaster University where CTO Sills was a faculty member and COO Kucharczyk graduated with a Master of Engineering degree. Their first hires were also McMaster Physics and Astronomy grads because it was such a great place to find creative problem solvers. When asked what else has contributed to their progress to date, CTO Sills believes that the top-down culture of continuous learning and teaching, is a crucial factor. All employees not only learn from one another but must also invest time in developing knowledge and enabling them to teach their peers.
Today, Preteckt prides itself on providing a technology solution that helps clients improve safety, minimize vehicle downtime, reduce maintenance costs, and optimize overall fleet system efficiency. As awareness of their predictive maintenance solution grew, it became increasingly apparent that their product not only benefitted any company transporting goods and people such as commercial trucking fleets and regional transit systems, but also “supercharged” the technicians on the shop floor with an AI based tool that allowed them to quickly identify the root cause of a problem instead of only symptoms. Technicians require tools that allow them to fix problems correctly the first time – nobody wants to see a repair return to the shop.
“As an accelerator, we identify and provide customized support and resources for our clients recognizing that they have unique business needs and requirements. Working with a client such as Preteckt is especially exciting and rewarding because CITM has directly participated in their evolution as a company and watched their progression through the various stages of growth. They took advantage of every opportunity we provided and have grown into a company that now has the confidence, experience, and expertise to scale across geographies and expand into additional target markets” notes Richard Dunda, Director, CITM.
That transition has happened over time but what began as an attempt to develop an algorithm to help personal vehicle owners recognize car breakdowns and maintenance issues has scaled to be a predictive maintenance AI solution used today by a growing number of clients including municipalities, fleet managers and OEMs. This technology is a critical element of Future of Work for maintenance teams of current and future vehicles, including electric and autonomous technologies. Although Preteckt remains exclusively focused on a solution that focuses on people and goods movement via roads, given Preteckt’s Canadian co-founders’ penchant for astrophysics, scientific methodology, curiosity, and learning, the sky really could be the limit for this startup.