2018 NEVYs Nominee Spotlight: Tive, Inc.

The NEVCA is proud to share the stories of our 2018 NEVY Awards nominees through their own words. Hear their experiences of success, failure, and everything in between — most importantly, what has driven them forward to build and grow their vision, starting with the very first spark of inspiration.

The team at Tive is pretty excited to be nominated for a NEVY Award — we work in what some would consider an “unsexy” space, so it’s great to see that others in Boston are excited about what we’re doing. Tive just wants to make sure people know where their stuff is and how it’s doing. It’s really that simple. In our case, the “people” are manufacturers and the “stuff” is their inventory. One conversation I had really summed it up — I was talking to an executive from a pharmaceutical company and he said, “I can track my car, my dog and my pizza delivery, but I don’t know where my $1 million shipment of drugs is. That’s crazy!”. We agree.

Many people wouldn’t consider this a glamorous thing to work on, but I’ve been really surprised by how many people are in fact excited by the nuts and bolts of international logistics, and are fired up by the idea of making it work better. After all, this is something that affects all of us — 90% of the goods in your house likely came by ship from China at some point.

The list of people who think this is cool includes me and Krenar, the founder and CEO of Tive, though we came at it from different directions. Krenar stumbled into this world from the technical side — he’s spent the last 15 years designing low-power cellular devices, nowhere near a cargo container. Fortunately, his father in law runs a trucking company in Worcester and complained to Krenar about not knowing where his trucks were. Krenar did what anyone would do — he immediately built a low-power, cellular-connected tracking device that reported its location to a cloud-based software platform, and solved his father in law’s problem. But the real breakthrough came when he realized that some of the shipments in the trucks had “data loggers” attached — simple devices that record the temperature every few minutes, which users can download at the end of the trip to make sure that the goods (like frozen food or drugs) stay at the right temperature. But the device is “dumb” — the user has to physically plug it in at the end of the journey to download the data. Krenar decided that, with recent advances in cellular technology and dropping costs, he could do better and switched his focus from tracking trucks to tracking the goods they carry.

I came to Tive from the supply chain side — I’ve spent most of the last 20 years working at supply chain-oriented startups, like Kiva Systems (robots for warehouses, purchased by Amazon in 2012) and FreeMarkets (we helped manufacturers buy components on the internet in the 90’s). I met Krenar at Bolt, where I was hanging out as an “executive in residence”. As I talked to Krenar about the technology he had developed, I thought of all the tools that manufacturers have developed over the last 30 years that have allowed them to reduce waste and improve quality, all based on the idea of collecting and analyzing data. If we could build a low-power device that we attached to shipments, we could extend those analytical tools into the supply chain, an area more known for “fire fighting” than analysis. I signed up with Krenar to make this happen.

Fortunately, it turns out that people other than Krenar and I are excited by this idea — in the last year some of the largest manufacturers in the world have signed on to bring real-time visibility into their supply chains. Companies in automotive, pharmaceutical, electronics, chemicals and other industries have told us they can no longer operate their supply chains in the dark — not sure when goods will arrive or if they will be damaged when they show up. One customer, Nokia, recently had a booth at Hannover Fair (the largest industrial show in the world) where they talked about how we help them improve their deliveries to their customers all over the world.

As for the future, Krenar likes to say, “the time has never been better for Tive”. The pace of innovation in IoT is accelerating, with new cellular technologies rolling out that will reduce power consumption and improve reliability. Cellular carriers continue to improve the reach and cost of their IoT-focused plans, and the cost of components continues to fall due to global demand for smartphones (which use many of the same components). All of this will help us spread the use of constantly-connected trackers across industry after industry, until no shipper is left sitting in the dark wondering where their goods are.

Every nominee is a winner in our eyes, but be sure to purchase your 2018 NEVY Awards tickets at http://thenevys.com to see who takes home the ultimate prize.

Tive Inc.’s Website: https://tive.co

Follow Tive on Twitter: @tiveInc

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New England Venture Capital Association

New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) members support entrepreneurs winning. Great VCs depend on great entrepreneurs.