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This article was published 14/6/2012 (1834 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BUSINESS that can save lives -- that's the guiding principle behind Tom Tessier's company, Solara Remote Data Delivery.
SRDD's noble model proved to also be a winning one. SRDD won first place Thursday in VentureChallenge, a Dragons' Den-style competition presented by Innovate Manitoba.
SRDD designs and markets GPS products that help guide or rescue people lost in remote or extreme environments.
"Imagine if you're a UN manager. You've got people in Somalia that are in a conflict region, but they're trying to bring food to save people. But there's a conflict on and you want to know immediately where they are and if they're in peril," Tessier said.
"With this new technology, we're able now to build basically a global 911 system," he added.
Prior to the pitch, entrepreneurs were invited to a two-day boot camp designed to help competitors fine-tune their presentations to be as investor-friendly as possible.
From the boot camps, six ventures were chosen to pitch to the judges. The three top-placing teams receive cash prizes, ($15,000 for first place, $7,500 for second and $2,500 for third).
Tessier, who was announced as the first-place winner at a luncheon at the Fort Garry Hotel, founded SRDD in 2006 after a career in both computer and space engineering.
The inspiration for SRDD came out of tragedy. A friend of a friend of Tessier's froze to death in the Arctic after getting lost in extreme conditions. Search and rescue couldn't find him for days.
"I saw that there was a commercial opportunity as well as simply trying to help people that get lost and can't be found," said Tessier.
Six years later, SRDD is at the forefront of the fastest-growing segment of telecommunications with a large client base including the Canadian Rangers and mine-exploration crews in the rainforests of central Africa.
Kevin A. McGarry, president and CEO of Lombard Life Sciences, was part of the panel of judges.
"It's a growing market. (SRDD) have already demonstrated profitability. They need to go to the next level, which he absolutely nailed in the presentation," said McGarry.
"I'm in the medical device business, myself. We are in the business of saving lives. Unfortunately in today's economic environment, there has to be a profitable component to it. They have already demonstrated that."
Tessier, who said he was "shocked" to have placed first, said he wants to use the money to carry out further market research to improve the company's infrastructure. He's also looking for the firm's first CEO.
-- Solara Remote Data Delivery: first place
Designs and manufactures personal GPS-tracking devices and robust satellite messaging server systems for customers who need to monitor the safety and location of personnel in remote or extreme environments.
-- Flatland Software: second place
John Pendergrast and John Hiddema
Provides ticketing and reservations management software to tour operators. The software enables online and in-house sales and gives operators more control over profit and operations.
-- PB&C Agri-Tech Solutions: third place
Developed a patented technology for rapid specific gravity determination. This technology can measure the dry-matter content of a batch of french fries and remove the bad ones.