September 2015

BoldIQ CEO to speak at Seattle Biz-Tech Summit on October 24th, 2015

Roei Ganzarski, President & CEO of BoldIQ, will speak at the 3rd annual Seattle Biz-Tech Summit on the topic of the convergence of Mobility and the Internet of Things. His focus will be around the mobile workforce, transportation, and real-time time decision making.

About Seattle Biz-Tech Summit

Seattle Biz-Tech Summit is the premier international business and technology conference hosting influential executives, investors, developers, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders to highlight and promote the benefits of business exchanges, technology collaboration, and global innovation between the United States and China.

The third annual Seattle Biz-Tech Summit will mirror the theme, “Entrepreneurship, Global Investment, and Technology Innovations.” Sessions for 2015 will continue to focus on cutting-edge technology topics in Cyber Security, Mobile Development, IoT, Digital Marketing and E-commerce and more. New to this year is the Seattle Startup Challenge, this dynamic pitch contest will emphasize the importance of continual growth among the startup community in the Pacific Northwest by connecting participants to investors from Seattle, Silicon Valley, and China.

Seattle Biz-Tech Summit is dedicated to helping grow technology and business relationships throughout the world. Join us as we showcase the value in Seattle’s unique ecosystem through expanding the platform for discovering new business connections, partnership possibilities, and investment opportunities.

Goto the Seattle Biz-Tech web site

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BoldIQ featured in the Puget Sound Business Journal cover story by Steven Goldsmith

Seattle’s miserable traffic has an upside. It’s spurring local entrepreneurs to try to reinvent the way you commute.

Seattle’s stuck in traffic. It’s turning to software to break free.

Heeding that S.O.S., investors are pouring millions of dollars into the business sector known as smart mobility — tech firms that share cars and rides, deliver meals and connect roads, transit and parking — all en route to the coming landscape of self-driving cars and aerial drones.

Kirkland-based Inrix, Seattle’s Pavia Systems, Bellevue transportation firm BoldIQ and even Seattle’s Pronto Cycles are all working — in very different ways — to unclog crowded streets both here and elsewhere.

If these and other companies are successful, the region’s tech entrepreneurs could develop a reputation for creating technology that solves one of the most maddening, time-consuming and money-losing propositions — sitting in traffic. The financial opportunities for these companies are huge.

A recent Texas A&M Transportation Institute study found that traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours. The total nationwide price tag is $160 billion. Commercial truckers lose more than $30 billion annually.

In the Puget Sound region, drivers spend 63 extra hours a year stuck in traffic — the seventh-worst in the United States.

Stamping out gridlock

BoldIQ CEO Roei Ganzarski called the Seattle area one of the nation’s top five hotbeds for smart mobility.

“This region has a beautiful mix of really bad gridlock, a very quickly growing population and a tremendously active entrepreneurial community,” he said.Those entrepreneurs increasingly also team up with old-school public agencies that run buses, paint parking spaces and build roads.

Such public-private mashups occur at Pavia Systems, whose app makes state highway inspectors more efficient, and Inrix, which just got hired by the government of Denmark to monitor that entire nation’s traffic in real time.

“Governments are saying, ‘We have to tap the benefits of the private sector,’” said Chris DeVore, partner at seed-stage investment firm Founders’ Co-op and director of Techstars Seattle.

DeVore noticed the most applications ever last year for funding from companies partnering with government agencies, including transportation tech.

Estimates vary on the financial potential of smart mobility, as do definitions of what the sector encompasses — whether to count food delivery apps, for instance. It’s hard to find a tech company that doesn’t have some transportation play in its garage, especially if it wants to work with industry leaders Google and Apple — both of which are getting ready to build their own “connected” cars.

Transportation mashups

In 11 funding rounds, San Francisco ride-sharing colossus Uber has raised nearly $7 billion.

To grab its dominant market role, Uber has had to persuade municipalities to unlock decades of regulations protecting taxis and limousines from competition. Seattle was one of 51 jurisdictions, at last count, to allow ride-share companies after Mayor Ed Murray negotiated a compromise that offered some concessions to taxis.

Kaleb Miller, who worked at the pioneering Car-Share Portland in the 1990s, now serves as Seattle general manager for the largest car-share service in the world, Boston-based Zipcar. He’s part of an industry that’s grown by 41 percent every year since 2010.

Zipcar works with public transit agencies to make it easier for residents to get around without clogging the streets with a personal vehicle.

About 60 percent of Zipcar’s customers have a transit pass, and a quarter of users ditched their personal vehicles after joining.

It’s an example of how public and private players increasingly drive parallel routes.

A typical industry “hybrid” is Ted Trepanier, director of product management at Kirkland’s Inrix. Before joining the firm, he spent a quarter-century at the Washington state Department of Transportation.

To unclog traffic, Trepanier said, the public and private sectors will need still deeper interaction.

Though not a household name like Uber, Inrix draws on serious resources. The traffic data firm has more than 300 employees and was valued at $550 million in its most recent funding round, led by Porsche.

The company provides back end data for more than 400 customers in 42 countries.

A smaller-scale success story in public-private collaboration is Pavia, whose software relays real-time information on potholes and other road and bridge repair needs.

The startup recently pulled in $3 million from investors and landed deals with the Washington state Department of Transportation and other agencies. Bridge and road inspectors use Pavia’s app to log problems and compose reports using the cloud.

Uphill climb

Where is all this leading? Possibly to a world where taking a single mode of transportation is an outmoded idea.

Demi Allen, general manager of Seattle’s Pronto Cycles — a nonprofit that runs the region’s biccycle-sharing system — paints a future in which a commuter, using a single prepaid card, will hop on a bike share to a park-and-ride, pop on light rail and then use Zipcar to travel from the transit stop to work.

But how is a mere human to sort through all those options? At Bellevue’s BoldIQ, “dynamic-optimization” software is already saving delivery services 30 percent to 60 percent in costs by using artificial intelligence to sidestep ever-changing traffic clogs and recalculate routes as new orders arrive.

BoldIQ has helped trucking companies make routes more efficient and cut down on fuel usage.

Ganzarski’s 12-employee company is on track to triple in revenue this year, after already tripling last year.

That doesn’t mean anyone thinks gridlock will vanish at the click of an app.

In fact, Ganzarski believes that popular ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft actually worsen traffic congestion by sending squadrons of driver-only cars trolling around for the occasional passenger. A better way, he said, would be to arm taxicab companies with sophisticated technology to deploy cabs at utmost efficiency.

Howard Jennings, manager of Arlington, Virginia-based transportation demand management company Mobility Labs, also sees an obstacle-laden route to clearing America’s highways, especially because any road that’s traffic-free never stays that way for long.

A few years ago, Jenkins’ organization began inviting young transportation entrepreneurs to monthly meetups. The group now has 900 members.

“There’s private sector innovation just busting out,” Jenkins said.

Seattle, with its narrow-waisted geography, belated start at mass transit, rapid job growth and fifth-most-congested streets in the country, has a tougher hill to climb.

But experts say the region has one thing in its favor: a bevy of tech entrepreneurs.

Thus, when Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond looks at updating the prepaid ORCA (One Regional Card For All) transit pass in the next half-dozen years, he says he may rely on tech companies to lead the way.

“We don’t have the creative expertise to create new applications,” Desmond said. “That’s where the private sector comes in.”

Click to see the story online

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Meet Mike, a senior developer at BoldIQ…and a geek

GeekWire’s Monica Nickelsburg featured our very own Mike Christensen in Geek of the Week:

Mike Christensen is a life-long software engineer — a career that began remarkably early. While most of his kindergarten peers were mastering their ABCs and 123s, he was programing his first computer to count to 10.

When he was 18, Christensen began working for Microsoft as a software engineer. After his 11-year tenure there, he began pursuing his passion for machine learning.

“I spent three years trying to teach a computer how to understand recipes; what they taste like, if they’re sweet or spicy, would you make them for breakfast or dessert, what ingredients you’d need to buy, etc.,” he said. “This involved natural language parsing and artificial intelligence.”

That startup, KitchenPC, didn’t find the right fit in the consumer market, and Christensen decided instead to open-source all the technology behind the project. He now works for data solution startup BoldIQ. He balances his highly technical work life with CrossFit, hiking, and travel.

“I love nature, and I love helping elephants. (I’ve adopted about 20!) I’ve hiked everywhere from the Pacific Northwest, California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Peru and Hong Kong,” he said. “I have a hiking bucket list a mile long.”

Meet our Geek of the Week, and continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

What do you do, and why do you do it? “I’m currently a Senior Software Engineer at BoldIQ. We optimize things – in other words, we take your problem, look at all your data, take into consideration all your constraints and then use software to figure out the optimal solution. In aviation, we can find optimal crew schedules that eliminate unnecessary flights. In ground transportation, we can figure out what order you should pick up and drop off packages. We can continually optimize these scenarios as conditions change or new data comes in.

I do this because it lets me explore so many different and fascinating industries. I also think as businesses scale, a lot of unnecessary waste is created. This waste can have an adverse effect on the environment. Plus, when the engineer in me sees something that’s inefficient, I can’t help but want to fix it.”

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Data is messy! So many problems could be solved in an elegant and straight forward manner, if only the data was clean, accurate and organized. A lot of the problems I face involve teaching a computer how to interpret what a human probably meant, and not look at things as either a zero or a one. Most frustrations people have with computers or technology can be traced back to different ways of thinking. As technology truly integrates with our daily lives, I think this will be the number one problem to solve.”

Where do you find your inspiration? “I’m a UI geek. I’m always checking out futuristic user interfaces in movies, and I’ve been known to try to emulate them in my own products.”

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “My smart phone. I have no idea how I got through 30 years of my life without one.”

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “Lots and lots of monitors. Both at work and at home. I also keep my desk immaculate and free of clutter. I work best without distractions.”

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “Find hobbies that balance out the technical aspects of your job. My love of hiking helps prevent my life from becoming too one sided. Getting in touch with nature allows me to see the earth as a whole.”

Mac, Windows or Linux? “As more applications move into the cloud or become web based, I see less and less distinction. I use all three.”

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Picard. I believe Voyager would have been a single episode under Picard’s crew. Ok, maybe a season finale cliff hanger.”

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Transporter for sure! I think of all the places I could travel to, mountains I could climb, and restaurants I could dine at. Plus, I’ve already had a Cloak of Invisibility; I call it my high school years.”

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would: “Investigate the viability of using unmanned aircraft to stop poaching and protect endangered wildlife.”

I once waited in line for: “I tried to get Mariners postseason tickets in 2001. The media was there, pretty much making fun of everyone crazy enough to stand in line. I never did get tickets.”

Your role models: “Bill Gates – one of the smartest men alive, and he created an entire industry. There’s a lot of billionaires that just want to see how rich they can get. Gates is devoting his life to eradicating disease, eliminating third world poverty and improving education. He’s using his geek skills to accomplish all of that.

And, Nathan Myhrvold. Sure, the patent system is screwed up and this guy takes full advantage of it. However, he’s a polymath of da Vinci caliber. He not only started Microsoft Research, he’s been everything from a paleontologist to a world class barbecue champion. He’s searched the skies for extraterrestrial signs of life, created lasers that can zap mosquitoes and researched geoengineering techniques to end global warming.”

Greatest Game in History “Tetris. It’s a deceptively simple game with an absolutely fascinating history.”

Best Gadget Ever: “TiVo/ DVR has changed the way we watch TV. Time slots have very little meaning anymore. I’m also really loving the Amazon Echo (I now own two). It’s the first device that’s actually made me feel a real human interaction with a computer.”

First Computer: “TI-99/4A. Though I was never cool enough to have the ‘Extended BASIC’ add-on.”

Current Phone: “Nexus 6. I find the Android platform much more open and configurable. I can get things working exactly the way I want, though sometimes it takes a bit of work. The Nexus doesn’t have a lot of the ‘bloatware’ associated with manufacturers like Samsung and HTC.”

Favorite App: “GPS Navigation, such as Google Maps. It’s gotten to the point where it works so well and is so seamless, we forget how much awesome stuff is going on behind the scenes.”

Favorite Cause: “David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They rescue orphaned elephants and help combat poaching in Africa.”

Most important technology of 2015 “The Cloud. We’re now finally seeing devices as a commodity, and real innovation happening on the back end.”

Most important technology of 2017: “Mining an asteroid would be pretty cool. I think this will be key to eventually building large objects in outer space. Another technology I’m interested in is self-driving cars, which I think will come in several stages. Eventually, I don’t think there will be a need for everyone (or even most people) to own a car. There will be a network of cars, some owned by companies such as Uber and some owned by private individuals. You’ll be able to lease time on that network for your transportation needs. After your car drops you off at your favorite restaurant, it will drive around tending to other passengers and then pick you up when you’re done. Things like parking will be a thing of the past, and only an exact number of cars will need to exist to meet demand. Concepts such as ‘rush hour’ will also be made obsolete, as this network can be optimized intelligently. In fact, BoldIQ has some real potential to make this a reality.”

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “Connect what you are truly passionate about to what you are good at. Don’t focus on what jobs will make the most money, or your career will turn boring.”

See the source with pictures and all

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