Dr. Chris Goodall was a finalist for the 2009 Leaders of Tomorrow ASTech Award. His nomination was for his work creating technology to improve the accuracy of GPS service while in places where GPS does not work, such as forested areas and indoors.
In 2009, Dr. Goodall, along with University of Calgary graduate Dr. Zainab Syed and U of C professor Dr. Naser El-Sheimy, founded Trusted Positioning Inc., a spinoff of the U of C’s Department of Geomatics Engineering. Dr. El-Sheimy won the 2011 Outstanding Achievement in Alberta Technology ASTech Award. In 2010 and 2011 Dr. Goodall helped to grow the company and in 2012 was named CEO.
Trusted Positioning secured its first customers for consumer smartphone deployments in 2013. One of these customers was InvenSense Inc., a company out of San Jose, California, worth $1.3 Billion USD and dedicated to motion tracking on consumer electronic devices. InvenSense went on to acquire Trusted Positioning in 2014 for $36 Million USD. As 2015 begins, Trusted Positioning has been fully integrated with InvenSense, and is now operated as InvenSense Canada, based out of Calgary.
We recently talked to Dr. Goodall about his success:
Can you please explain what your technology does?
[Our technology] tracks motion when [users] go into areas where GPS doesn’t work. We just do software and the math... It is kind of the opposite of GPS. GPS uses absolute positioning, utilizing satellites to triangulate your position. We use relative positioning. When you enter a room and GPS stops working, our tech takes over by motion sensing your relative position based on a known point.
What has been your focus as CEO?
Despite good revenue generation from machine control in 2011, we refocused the company on the consumer space with a vision to provide positioning everywhere, starting with consumer indoor positioning on smartphones.
When you started Trusted Positioning, were there any people or organizations that helped you be successful through funding or other forms of help?
Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures, International Science and Technology Partnerships Canada, Tecterra, Industrial Research Assistance Program, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and quite a few funding agencies got us off the ground... Angel investors were also good advisors, but we did the day to day lifting ourselves.
What were your biggest challenges?
Raising money without much to show. We were burning $150,000 to $250,000 per month. And even after winning contracts, revenue generation could take another 18 months.
What led to InvenSense being interested in acquiring Trusted Positioning?
They were a customer for a year, year and a half before acquisition. They were also an investor and liked what they saw. We took the product to their customers, and their customers also liked the product. I believe our technology was the key to the future, so they wanted to secure us before someone else came along.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs with their eyes on the tech industry?
Tough it out. If you think you have a good idea, even the best product with the best team, under the best market conditions, you still have to tough it out. Average start up success takes five to seven years to really get going. Don’t expect to just get in and sell your start up right away.
Any new ideas that you can share with us?
Nothing I can share publically, but we’re always working on cool new navigation technology that will benefit people. The acquisition has allowed us ot expand our roadmap and we’re excited about what’s coming in 2015 and 2016.