2019 Finalist: Outstanding Achievement in Information and Communications Technology sponsored by TELUS
Data is the new currency
Aimsio develops software to help energy and construction companies digitize, transform and automate inefficient field processes, resulting in better dispatching, better field data capture and more efficient reporting on operations and profitability. The app and web portal help companies make more informed decisions through access to fast and accurate data on a centralized platform. We spoke with Ash Esmaeili, Co-Founder and CEO.
What problem or opportunity did you identify and seek to address?
Aimsio is a software platform that helps companies digitize, transform and automate their inefficient field processes.
Initially, our intention wasn’t to build Aimsio, but to find a solution for my friend’s field service company, which had inefficiencies due to the use of Excel and manual processes. When we tried to find a solution for him, we looked at more than 50 different software platforms, but we couldn’t find one that was able to handle his needs. Because myself and my co-founders have a technical background, we were familiar with technologies like Artificial Intelligence and how those technologies were becoming commonplace in other industries. All of a sudden we realized that in the energy and construction realm, there hadn’t been the same level of advancement in data collection and analytics.
We came up with the idea to take the best of the tech world and the best of the energy and construction world and build a tool for the field guys. The challenge was that they had projects out in remote locations that take anywhere from two days to two years to complete and you have a lot of daily data that needs to be captured.
Before using Aimsio, our clients recorded most of their data in Excel or on paper. There’s a lot of data that gets lost, leading to missing information. The challenge they face is in the delay between capturing data in the field and getting it back to the office. There was a true disconnect between the field and office and we asked, “What if we took it digital? What if we got rid of the paperwork and brought in iPads to the field?”
What has been the impact?
In one case, our client went from more than 94 hours of manual data entry work in a week down to less than 50 hours with our platform. For another client, the cost savings has amounted to over $1 million in a year by capturing data at the right time, in the right place, and processing it actively to minimize revenue deficiencies.
How has being in Alberta helped you find success?
Beyond the fact that the energy industry was a great place to start for a tech company because there are a lot of possibilities for innovation, I think there are a number of good entrepreneurs and great talent in Calgary and in Alberta. If we started in Silicon Valley, we wouldn’t be able to afford the talent we needed. Additionally, there is a great amount of artificial intelligence and data science expertise at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.
Who have been your major supporters?
Our first paying client actually liked the technology so much they ended up investing in Aimsio. We managed to raise quite a bit of money through our clients and ever since, they have also been our advocates. They really are our research and development arm because a lot of insights from the product realm are coming directly from our customers. That’s been extremely helpful.
We’re also getting support from Calgary Economic Development, the Industrial Research Assistance Program and the Western Innovation Initiative Fund. These have all been a great help to get us going.
What are the plans for the future?
Coming from an AI background, we realized from day one that data is the new currency. If you look at what’s happening in the energy and construction industries, a lot of data is coming from the field. Once that data is accurately captured and properly labelled, it proves to be extremely useful in making decisions all across the business.
The first step is to get away from the paper, get away from Excel and capture it digitally. Then, once you have that currency in hand, you can apply analytics and artificial intelligence to come up with insights and unimaginable savings.
We leverage the data we’re capturing for our customers today to provide them with insights they would never see otherwise on Excel and paper. This allows them to be more competitive and proactive. We are transforming them into a 21st-century company.
How does it feel to be an ASTech Finalist?
It’s amazing! I think one of the challenges for startups is the brand awareness, putting your name out there and getting people to realize the possibilities so that you can leverage the potential. For us, it’s amazing to be a part of the elite group of finalists and we are looking forward to the event.